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Linux game sales statistics from multiple developers, part 5

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It’s been a long time since I’ve done this, but here’s part 5 in the series of me talking to developers about how their games have been selling on Linux.

If you missed the previous articles: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

Beamdog
For those who don’t recognise the name, Beamdog are the people behind revamps of classic RPG titles like Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition and Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition.

They gave some details about how Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition sold on Steam:

  • 91.74% - Windows
  • 6.22% - Mac
  • 2.04% - Linux


Additionally, they also gave details about install numbers from their own Beamdog client:

  • 91.13% - Windows
  • 6.38% - Mac
  • 2.49% - Linux

 

Here’s what Beamdog CTO, Scott Brooks had to say about Linux support:

QuoteWe really think the Infinity Engine games are something special and work hard to bring them to people that might not otherwise be able to play them. We've worked with professional and volunteer translators to help bring Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition to 14 languages, and we add things like Story Mode to help people who otherwise would have a hard time playing these great games. We've ported an engine that was originally built in the 16bit to 32bit transition to 64bit in order to let people continue enjoying these games. There are people on Linux that would love to play our games specifically on Linux, and we would love to let them.


Also, if you missed it I did an interview with Beamdog before, you can see that here.

MidBoss
MidBoss, the roguelike where you possess the bodies of your enemies released with Day-1 Linux support back in May. Here’s the figures their developer gave:

  • 93.4 - Windows
  • 4.7% - Mac
  • 1.9% - Linux


Here’s what the developer of MidBoss had to say about supporting Linux now and in future:

QuoteI feel pretty good about supporting both platforms in MidBoss, particularly since Ethan Lee who made FNA did the ports and it wasn't too expensive. Without him they probably wouldn't have happened.

In the future I'll be using a new, completely custom framework that can create .NET executables as well as JavaScript/WebGL builds from a single C# codebase. We're planning to initially use the web builds with Electron to keep supporting Mac and Linux. This should perform just fine for smaller games such as Ultra Hat Dimension which is probably coming out on Steam in early 2018.

When we do wind up doing a bigger more demanding game again (MidBoss 2? Who knows!) I'll investigate getting the .NET versions working on Mac and Linux too. The .NET side uses OpenTK/OpenGL so it shouldn't be that difficult, hopefully, we just don't have the time/resources right now to go into it.


Milkstone Studios
To my surprise, Milkstone Studios were very open and sent over details about multiple titles!

White Noise 2

  • 95.31% - Windows
  • 4.06% - OSX
  • 0.64% - Linux


Only Linux details given for these:

  • Little Racers Street: 12.05%
  • Pharaonic: 4.59%
  • Ziggurat: 2.19%
  • White Noise Online: 0.96%


It’s worth noting, that just before the release of Little Racers Street, I did an interview with Milkstone Studios about the title. That may have helped towards the rather high Linux percentage there.

Here’s what they said about continuing to support Linux:

Milkstone StudiosSeeing these numbers, look like Linux players are more used to single player experiences, so that might be the reason.

We support Linux on a pretty basic level (we're not Linux users ourselves, so we have limited experience with it). Linux support takes up lots of support time (I'd say around 20-25% of our support time is dedicated to addressing Linux issues), and it's hard to justify dedicating our time to this platform if sales for it are low. However, Unity allows for easy generation of Linux builds, and most of the work required for a proper port was done with Ziggurat, so for now we'll continue releasing games with Linux support, and trying to solve issues to the best of our knowledge.


While they weren’t able to give any specific details, I did speak to two of the bigger porters Feral Interactive and Aspyr Media.

Here’s what Feral Interactive had to say:

QuoteThe Linux market remains small in comparison to Mac, and tiny compared to Windows. Three years of bringing AAA games to Linux has taught us a lot about what works in sales terms, and what works less well. Although we had hoped that the Steam Machine would gain more traction, we have been pleasantly surprised by the Linux sales achieved on distros other than SteamOS, and continually encouraged by the passionate (and vocal!) audience of Linux gamers. However, we are disappointed by the promotion of piracy by some, which does disproportionate damage to the economics of bringing games to an already small platform.


Take a look at what Aspyr Media said:

QuoteOur Linux business continues to be an important part of our strategy going forward. We consider Linux a viable platform, and continue to make it a target goal of any deal we strike.


I did reach out to Virtual Programming, but they were extremely busy and didn't have time.

I would like to thank everyone who got back to me. Sadly some didn’t reply, but given how busy developers are actually making games, it’s all good!

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Comments
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Jan 2 August 2017 at 11:59 am UTC
A groundhog day discussion: Read Feral's comments and find your own conclusion. It's a myth that Linux gamers in general are more willing to spend money on a Linux-specific product. We've had this discussion on GoL about people complaining to re-buy a Linux port or if a game isn't SteamPlay from day one (or the piracy topic where some users promote it to avoid Steam or any form of DRM, which is just plain stupid and ignorant regarding AAA releases).

Porting costs money, Linux is a super small platform irrelevant for any AAA publisher. If we don't pay a price premium for an Aspyr or Feral port, there won't be any huge game releases in the future at all. It's as simple as that.

Thank you very much Liam for the great insights. I have the impression Linux gaming in 2017 is about Indie ports from Ethan, Cheese and Ryan Gordon and a handful of AAA titles from Feral. Aspyr has already left the building (regarding AAA) and none of the big publishers cares about SteamOS or Steam Machines.

I just hope some people will finally acknowledge the market reality and pur their money where there (big) mouth is.

Sorry for being so negative, but apart from Vulkan's great improvements I don't see a realistic chance for AAA Linux gaming in the foreseeable future.
Leopard 1 years 2 August 2017 at 12:10 pm UTC
Conclusion is simple actually. If AAA games keeps coming without Linux support , Linux gaming won't go anywhere better.
Tiedemann 2 August 2017 at 12:11 pm UTC
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I would not have a problem doing it like Kickstarter, pledge money, get a refund if there's no Linux version.
Then I wouldn't have to check up on games and have to follow them to see if we get a Linux version, and the devs knows if it'l be worth it or not.


Last edited by Tiedemann at 2 August 2017 at 12:11 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
Pecisk 2 August 2017 at 12:12 pm UTC
QuoteHowever, we are disappointed by the promotion of piracy by some, which does disproportionate damage to the economics of bringing games to an already small platform.

Disappointing indeed. Considering regular Steam and vendor sales, and offering games to Linux in general, also amount of cheap and even free games available I am really disappointed to see people praising copyright infringement for some thought up reasons (whaaa, I don't like wrappers, DRM, etc).
vipor29 2 August 2017 at 12:16 pm UTC
unfortunally i do not see this getting any better.i mean if we had a game that was linux only and it was a decent game where people would be dying to play it maybe just maybe it would get some interest.i don't want to be negative but i have been watching this the past 2 years and unless something drastic happens with windows 10 where people mass flood away from it we are just gonna be that small market.i so want linux to be huge but people are not giving it a chance or just too afraid to try it.
Pecisk 2 August 2017 at 12:16 pm UTC
JanA groundhog day discussion: Read Feral's comments and find your own conclusion. It's a myth that Linux gamers in general are more willing to spend money on a Linux-specific product.

It is not a myth. It can be proven by numbers.

QuoteWe've had this discussion on GoL about people complaining to re-buy a Linux port or if a game isn't SteamPlay from day one (or the piracy topic where some users promote it to avoid Steam or any form of DRM, which is just plain stupid and ignorant regarding AAA releases).

So people complain. So what? Not really indicative of community itself.

QuotePorting costs money, Linux is a super small platform irrelevant for any AAA publisher. If we don't pay a price premium for an Aspyr or Feral port, there won't be any huge game releases in the future at all. It's as simple as that.

I buy these ports. Lot of people do.

QuoteSorry for being so negative, but apart from Vulkan's great improvements I don't see a realistic chance for AAA Linux gaming in the foreseeable future.

I will take *some* of AAA Linux gaming plus good indies thank you.
scaine 2 August 2017 at 12:34 pm UTC
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LeopardConclusion is simple actually. If AAA games keeps coming without Linux support , Linux gaming won't go anywhere better.

I know what you're getting at, but the tricky part is "AAA". If you changed "AAA" to "quality" games, I'd agree with you wholeheartedly.

But "AAA" is such an ambiguous term. Is Ballistic Overkill AAA? I think so, but it's not even in the same league as Paladins in terms of player-base, let alone something truly gigantic like Overwatch. What about Insurgency? Or Albion Online? Do we still think Full Throttle is AAA? Does "AAA" time out, somehow?

So as long as some/many quality titles are available, it's an acceptable sacrifice (to me) that not all quality titles are available.
Areso 2 August 2017 at 12:37 pm UTC
Nyah, how con Linux users spend MORE money on Steam (let's say Feral ports are not available on GOG as a solid rule, and in HumbleBundles - almost always). Linux users spend MORE money when price is PAYW (Pay-As-You-Want), and so, you can check statistics only on sites, where this option is available.
About general numbers, now it correlates with platform owners (see Steam statistics, ~1% of userbase is Linux users). Earlier correlation was not 1-to-1, because of Linux gamers was very hungry for games (because they have, how many, 6 of them before Valve get punch a devs?) so they buy any games with Linux support to support devs and to show their interest. But today a lot of games already available, so, Linux users buys only those games, which they are liked.
Personally I have 250 games in Steam with Linux support, so, I don't see any sense buy any linux game from day one, as it was 3-4 years ago.
liamdawe 2 August 2017 at 12:39 pm UTC
As it stands, Linux is a fantastic platform for playing indie games. It's an accessible platform due to the no-cost entry to Linux distributions itself, so people can whack a Linux distribution on any laptop, pc, media centre hooked up to a TV and so on. Linux is also extremely easy to install compared to how it was some time ago and driver support has improved at a staggering pace.

People have to remember how far we've come in reality, considering how poor Linux gaming was even three years ago compared with today.
Pecisk 2 August 2017 at 12:40 pm UTC
scaineSo as long as some/many quality titles are available, it's an acceptable sacrifice (to me) that not all quality titles are available.

We have to grow from somewhere. And yes, we are still growing, both community and tech wise.
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