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Linux Game Sales Statistics From Multiple Developers Part 2

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The second part in my investigation into how well developers are doing on Linux with selling their games via the Steam store.

I hope you all enjoyed the first part; it was a good experience talking to developers and seeing their numbers, so I decided to reach out to more developers for your reading entertainment!

They are listed from best to worse performing titles, so be sure to show your love for the lower ones.

Harvest: Massive Encouter
For the last 12 months
77.1% Windows
5.4% Mac OSX
17.5% Linux

If we count the whole lifetime though;
96.2% Windows
2.3% Mac OSX
1.5% Linux
Just bear in mind it was released in 2008, the Linux version only got released at the end of 2012, so that 1.5% figure is actually really, really good.

Jens Bergensten, Oxeye Game StudioUnless Steam for Linux really takes off in the future, we're not sure it's the effort for us to offer our games on multiple platforms. It's very time consuming for such a small team as Oxeye has.

75% Windows
16.2% Mac OSX
8.8% Linux
This is after Linux had a delayed released.

Door Kickers
89.0% Windows
8.0% Mac OSX
3.0% Linux (Ubuntu distributions account for 57% of the Linux users)

Mihai Gosa, KillHouse GamesThe stats were different in our first month since the Early Access release, where Linux was around 6%, it seems things have changed.
We also released a free demo for almost two months. That was before getting on Steam, but Linux downloads totalled at 5%.

The initial development time for porting on Linux was about 2 work days and another 3 days added in the following months for updates/fixes.
All the code written for the Linux port is contained within a single file of 1320 lines.
Most problems we had on Linux were compatibility issues, which were solved by using an older Ubuntu version for compiling the game. We also never managed to do proper alt-tab when the game is running full-screen, which seems to bring major anger to our users :(

Mac OSX initially took longer at about 3 days, mostly due to the programming IDE (Xcode) and the time it took to go buy a Mac machine, but didn’t have to do any fixes on it afterwards.

Since they’re both POSIX systems, parts of the code are common.
Even though it depends on factors like what technology/engine you’re using (we’re using a home-brewed engine) and how you architectured your code in the first place, I can’t imagine why more developers don’t do it.
Bottom line is Linux+Mac brought us 11% of the sales for a single week’s work, so yeah, it was definitely worth it.


Trine 2
Units sold:
2.1% Mac OSX
1.9% Linux

4.9% Mac OSX
4.2% Linux
Since 01.01.2013

91.46% Windows
6.70% Mac OSX
1.84% Linux
Sales % per platform for the last 4 months.

The Windows figure is over inflated since many people redeeming Kickstarter keys were forced to use Windows for several weeks after Steam launch. Looking at the player figures or sales this month, the actual number is roughly 8% with Mac at 5% or so.

97.5% Windows
1.4% Linux
1.1% Mac OSX

Simon Roth, Maia DeveloperLinux was one of my target platforms from conception. I'm far more keen on supporting it than OSX, which has been nothing but trouble in comparison.

Since I use standard, Linux friendly libraries such as SDL, it's really a no-brainer to support. Using different compilers on multiple platforms is a good way to weed out complex memory bugs so even if it wasn't profitable to support, it would be worthwhile to me. Interestingly, due to the new GCC features and the low system overhead on Linux, Maia Linux often outperforms the other platforms in testing. It's also far easier to support currently, as Linux users are generally more technically proficient with their systems.

I primarily develop and test on Mint, as I prefer the "Windows" style GUI rather than Ubuntu's horrid new interface. I think Linux adoption was hit hard by Canonical totally losing the plot since around their 8.10 release.

For future games I will definitely support Linux, and am considering a controller support for the Steam box. I'd really like to see ATI put out some better drivers as the NVIDIA ones are currently a mile ahead.

The developers where kind enough to show us that image when I requested it, so that makes:
95.88% Windows
3.57% Mac OSX
0.55% Linux

Again this number may seem small, but I doubt the guys at Facepunch Studios think it's not worth it (For those who don't know, Facepunch Studios created Garrys Mod) . When you look at it that 5,621 * £14.99 selling price is around £84,258 give or take, that's without taking taxes and Steam's own share into account, but that's still a lot of money, probably more than some indie games will ever make.

Project Zomboid
99.942% Windows
0.05% Mac OSX
0.008% Linux
% of total revenue made since PZ appeared on Steam.
Looks like it's time to show Project Zomboid some sales love don't you?

Chris Simpson (known as Lemmy) from Project Zomboid's The Indie Stone had this to say:

Chris Simpson, The Indie StoneI remember though coming up with a figure of approx 3-5% linux back in the day we offered direct downloads, though obviously this is a much lower sample of people. In truth its not really easy for us to tell definitively, but for the large part if the cross platform support isn't too heavy, then its beside the point.

On the whole the low numbers don't bother us as we have a lot of pride supporting all three platforms, but more crucially we firmly believe in time those numbers are going to swing dramatically in Linux's direction with SteamOS, even if it takes a few years. We worked on a game using XNA, which is MS proprietary technology, and while MonoGame exists now, we were stung badly by MS's reckless abandon of it. And with Windows 8 and MacOS both taking worrying steps toward forced application signing and funnelling more and more through their own stores, it's not about making money but securing the future freedom of our game not to by tied into a closed system governed by a company who could just screw you on a whim. That's why Linux is and should be of prime importance to developers, particularly those doing alpha funding business models where they have to rely on income from a single game for years.

OH I should add, and this is of prime importance further to our numbers. We don't feel we've done a good job, even an acceptable job, at supporting Linux thus far, due to the problems we've had getting familiar with it as developers. As such we've probably lost a huge chunk of sales from Linux and to a lesser extent mac due to our poor support of them. We have a demo of the game we urge people to try before buying, and due to the nature of Linux and our inexperience we've yet to hit on a way to make our game 'just work' and this may have turned a good % of people on Linux off buying our game. we're improving this and hope to come up with a way to make PZ more accessible to Linux users without manual set up and such, so the numbers may look a lot more flattering to Linux at that stage.

Again a big, big, thank you to all the developers who could spare time; we know they are always stupidly busy and not always doing fun things. Paperwork takes a lot of time to do!

What do you all think of Part 2? Are you surprised or do you think it's still about right for where Linux is in the market right now?

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Liam Dawe 11 Feb, 2014
Added in a missing quote from Lemmy!
migizi 11 Feb, 2014
Love the articles. I wanted to just say a few things. I probably own 80-90 % of Linux games available on Steam and/or Humble. I feel that even if the game isn't screaming at me, they supported Linux so I support them.

But the last point you made was about Project Zomboid. I bought that game a few years ago when I still had a Windows install. It seems to run fine on Windows but I've had nothing but troubles making it work in Linux. The game concept is great but the foundation they built on isn't my favorite. I've pretty much stopped playing any game that required Java because of performance issues. If you use the wrong version of Oracle Java you have problems, if you don't use Oracle Java you have problems. It's just not worth the hassle for a language that was supposed to work flawlessly across multiple platforms.

As for the point about AMD drivers, I completely agree. I'm a big fan of AMD but their Linux drivers aren't the best. I do think they are actually trying to improve the open source driver to the point of being on par with Catalyst. So it's probably an issue of looking in too many directions at once so nothing ends up stellar.

There may be one flaw in the stats as well. Some of these games I bought before they had Linux versions. So while I play on Linux, I bought when it was Windows only. You addressed that for some stuff but it may be something developers should be aware of.
manny 11 Feb, 2014
cool figures.

umm not sure how project Zomboid feel off my radar, looks to be a pretty great game with some cool features.

Maybe because it was alpha and so many different zombie games in the market, can make things a bit confusing and you end up missing.

indeed worth a look.

Sadly the problem with the first developer (Oxeye) is the technology they use.

I remember they making "fists of resistance" for the humble Mojam bundle challenge, but to play it you had to use Wine, because of all the the directX and windows dll stuff they used...

so yea if you don't have a similar mindset of "multiplatform" from the start (like some of the other devs interviewed), then the porting can become harder or costly.
Guest 11 Feb, 2014
Like I said on twitter, it's great seeing these guys braving it like this, putting out native Linux code when almost no big publisher would (there are some notable exceptions, of course) and not ending up regretting their decision.

While Steve Jobs isn't greatly loved amidst the free software community people have to watch or remember the way he was selling the industry more than a decade ago on developing for the not yet released Mac OS X. Basically he said something along the lines of: don't wait for Adobe and the others to deliver products, make your own, make better ones and be the first to claim a place in the new software market that just opened.

It seems to be just what the indie developers are doing.

This article has changed my game buying priorities for this year, with one exception, Witcher 3 :)
manny 11 Feb, 2014
and speaking of multiplatform, no excuses now that the steam dev days videos were released. ;)
DrMcCoy 11 Feb, 2014
How exactly are they counting the platform of Steam users?
Initial download? Time the user spents running Steam on a platform? What if someone downloaded using Wine first? What if they didn't download the game at all?
Kristian 11 Feb, 2014
Quoting: DrMcCoyHow exactly are they counting the platform of Steam users?
Initial download? Time the user spents running Steam on a platform? What if someone downloaded using Wine first? What if they didn't download the game at all?

I'd guess the platform running when the game was bought?
DrMcCoy 11 Feb, 2014
What if I bought it using a browser? Or they checking my User-Agent string? What if I bought the game on a mobile phone?
Xpander 11 Feb, 2014
afaik its the last 7 days played or downloaded
so if you bought it under phone and downloaded to your linux machine it counts as linux.
if the last time you played it through wine or in windows it counts as windows

not 100% sure though how its counted
stan 11 Feb, 2014
  • Supporter
"We also never managed to do proper alt-tab when the game is running full-screen, which seems to bring major anger to our users"

Indeed a game with no alt-tab reaaaaally annoys me :) (I just won’t play it). But if there is a windowed mode with functional alt-tab then it’s ok.

In my experience to make alt-tab work, devs just have to not grab the mouse pointer. If that’s not working, or as a simpler solution, just check if alt and tab are pressed and switch to windowed mode if that happens…

Edit: interesting article btw!
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