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Sales Statistics For Linux Games From Different Developers, Part 4

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You would hopefully have seen my previous articles talking to multiple developers about their Linux sales, so to begin a new year we are talking to a few more about their sales.

You can see part 1, part 2, and part 3 at those links, so if you haven’t read them or didn’t know about them take a look at them first.

We’ve had many different responses and feelings over the last year from developers, so we decided to take another look and see what developers can currently expect to achieve with Linux.


Simon Roth, MaiaCurrently Linux is just under 2% of our sales data in the last 3-4 months. With Mac at 4%. (Although we have been releasing special Mac builds to fix Yosemite and Mavericks so the game has had more sales-generating coverage in that area).

Linux sales are coming from all over the world. With the US at 2% Linux, and most of Europe sitting at 0.5-4%.

I asked Simon how he felt about the sales, and how he felt about supporting Linux now, and with future games:

Simon Roth, MaiaLinux support is pretty great. We have the flexibility to get things fixed when it doesn't work for users. Which is something we just don't have with Mac. Linux users, on the whole, are far better at seeking help and more useful when there are issues. The community have been quick to report system specific issues, which has allowed us to fix things promptly and reduced our testing workload.

The driver situation could certainly be better, but the game runs well on our test machines. Often 5-10% better than Mac and Windows due to lower CPU and GPU overheads.

Linux Mint has been going from strength to strength. It's been a solid development platform for me. I would like to see some more active development on Codeblocks, as it's starting to fall behind other IDE's feature-wise.

We'd certainly release on Linux in future. Even at our current 2% of sales, it would make solid financial sense and reach lots of players.

I've spoken to Simon a few times, and he's always great to speak to. Maia has come a long way in a short time, and it's only getting better with each release. It's a game I'm personally excited to see finished.


Rust has come a long way, and even in my smaller amounts of testing it seems to run pretty well, and that’s without getting into how beautiful it looks. It’s not my type of game, but I’ve heard a fair few people tell me how they’ve lost many hours to it.
It’s still sad to see such low numbers over an entire year for it. I thought we would be much closer to the Mac sales than we are for it.

For reference, the last time we spoke to the Rust developers in part 3, they had nearly 8K sales units from Linux, and in part 2 they had over 5K. We don’t know how long their reporting periods are though, so we don’t know if the most recent image they shared is over a shorter time (which would explain why it’s much lower, when it was previously growing).

When asking the Rust developers how they felt about supporting Linux, they simply said this:

@gamingonlinux Makes no money, but costs no money either.

— Rust (@playrust) March 5, 2015

This is of course thanks to Unity!

Soul Axiom
1% Linux
8% Mac
91% Windows

Ben Tester, Wales InteractiveOne thing we found with supporting Linux is that the Linux gamers tend to be more supportive towards the development of the game, especially when getting involved with games on Early Access. Soul Axiom is our first game on Early Access and the support we’ve had from the Linux community has been pretty good. Technically speaking, developing for Linux is getting easier over time and if it continues on that path then I would think more devs would support it.

Our Samsai actually did a GOL Cast on Soul Axiom, so take a look to see what he thought.

Windows: 5797 (88.3%)
OS X: 575 (8.76%)
Linux: 191 (2.91%)
Total: 6563

The developer Jasson had this to share:

QuoteSupporting Linux is both rewarding and demanding. It truly makes me happy to know that more people can enjoy Crea and many of Crea's most supportive fans are linux users which is fantastic. The one major downside to supporting multiple platforms during Early Access is that it slows down the process of iterating on the game which is what should be the focus while in Early Access. Sometimes instead of working on a new feature or adding more content I must fix platform specific bugs. Moving forward, I'll absolutely support Linux with my future games but likely hold off until official release.

I actually have access to Crea, and plan to take a proper look at it sometime, keep an eye out!

NEO Scavenger
Since NEO Scavenger's early access began (December 6, 2013), total revenue contributions are:
Linux 1.6%
Mac 7.6%

Since launch (December 15, 2014):
Linux 1.7%
Mac 8.5%

I asked Daniel how he felt about Linux, and he had these words to share:

QuoteI think my feelings about Linux support are similar to last time: if it isn't too much of a headache to support, I will gladly support it.

NEO Scavenger's platform of choice (Flash) made Linux harder to support than I hoped, due to Adobe dropping Linux support years ago. However, I was able to maintain parity by freezing all platforms at the last-supported Linux distro (Flash 11.2). This cost me some modern performance and feature support, but has soured me on Adobe more than Linux.

Moving forward, I intend to make games using Haxe, with OpenFL and HaxeFlixel libraries. Since OpenFL is based on Flash, and HaxeFlixel on Flixel, the code should be relatively easy to port. And Haxe is built to support all platform targets as seamlessly as possible, including Linux.

As such, my hope is that I can support all platforms equally and without any extra work. Like I've said in the past, I prefer to spend my time writing game code, not platform code. As long as I can focus on the former, I'm happy to support users of any platform I can!

Note: Adobe dropping support of Air on Linux happened back in 2012, and it has been an issue for multiple games. It’s another reason to not use something so closed up.

The developers of Minecraft also shared this chart with us, this isn't a sales chart, but the percentage of people per platform that login and play since the start of the year:

With how popular Minecraft is, I actually expected us to remain very low on their login charts. It's probably more popular than a lot of AAA games on PC for Windows gamers.

Windows: 91.52%
OSX: 7.05%
Linux: 1.43%

The developer had these encouraging words to say about it:

QuoteSo altogether OSX and Linux have been treating us rather well, amounting to 1/12 of the total sales when combined. Considering official OSX and Linux support didn't start until three weeks after the game's initial release that's a very encouraging result.

It’s worth noting that the 4089 developer actually uses Linux for development, so that’s pretty awesome.

@gamingonlinux linux accounted for 3.5% of sales, Mac 5.8%, the rest is Windows!

— Real Phr00t (@phr00t_) March 9, 2015

Windows: 85%
Mac: 12%
Linux: 3%

Daniele GiardiniI have to admit that I hoped Linux would go better, also considering that Goscurry runs well even on pretty old machines :P

Looks like they could use some love!

Also an honourable mention to Aspyr Media, who responded to my requests for comments. I spoke to Michael Blair from Aspyr about how they feel right now:

Michael BlairThanks to the tremendous support of the amazing Linux community, our Linux sales have been tracking around 15% of Mac for The Pre-Sequel. This is actually quite good!

In short, our outlook on the future of Linux gaming is very optimistic (especially with Valve’s support on SteamOS and Steam Machines) and we are continuing to pitch Linux versions of every game we are to potentially publish.

Wrapping this up
So, it looks like for most developers they can realistically expect between 1-3% of their sales to come from Linux. Considering the Steam Hardware Survey puts Linux at around 1-2% of Steam’s user base, that sounds about right. Anything above 1% should be considered a win, since that’s above the general percentage of the user base.

I would like to thank everyone who replied, and hope Linux manages to grow significantly with Steam Machines, as let’s be honest, developers aren't going to make a living with Linux right now. I don’t mean to put a downer on it, but I’m being a realist here, we need to grow, and we need to keep buying those games. However, 3% extra actually shown as Linux sales are better than zero right? Especially as more recent engines like Unity and Unreal Engine 4 have made Linux support vastly easier. Not only that, but multiple developers have stated while sales have been low on Linux, the sales have exceeded what it costs to support us.

I am hopeful for the future of Linux gaming, more so than I ever have been before thanks to the great indie games we have, and porting houses like Aspyr Media and Feral Interactive bringing us some higher profile releases too. A deserved shout out to porters as well like Ethan Lee and Ryan Gordon.

I am still missing my favourite genre with games like Battlefield and Call of Duty, as their online modes are an absolute blast to play, but I hope we will get something closer to them in future. I mean, we are getting titles I never thought we would like Borderlands 2 and XCOM, so nothing is impossible.

I am sure I will have plenty more to be happy about when Feral Interactive unleash the collection of AAA games they've announced. I'm sure a lot of GOL readers are as excited as I am about our future.

Keep gaming on Linux (see what I did there?), and keep buying Linux games.

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Pecisk 20 Apr, 2015
Quoting: KimyrielleA lot of devs stayed away from Linux in the past because of the thought of having to support three dozen different distros scared the hell out of them. Rightfully so. Then they apparently realized that they don't have to do that at all and officially picking the largest distro for the "token official support" is good enough. Which it is. Because most of us don't exactly need help to install the newest graphics drivers on our systems. One of the commonly accepted facts about Linux users is that they are a LOT more tech savy than the average computer user. I'd be surprised if we'd make up more than our fair share of the 3% of revenue in terms of support costs. It's probably less.

Second - the point is that they don't have to invest anything if the engine they're using deploys on Linux with basically one mouse-click. To the devs it's not an investment in this case, it's deploying on another platform for basically free and earn a bit more money doing so.
The question is a completely different one when considering a port of a game that can't be deployed on Linux just like that. Porting costs money and you won't do that unless it's somehow profitable. But if multi-platform deployment and cross-platform APIs like Vulkan become the new norm anyway, the need for ports might be largely a thing of the past soon. At this point I might point out that the re-branded Linux that is Android is actually the market leader in the mobile devices segment, so the industry -will- have to support multiple platforms at least for any game supposed to run on mobile devices. The days where you could develop for Windows only and be done are already over for all practical purposes.

So much this ^^

There's still lot of old thinking and skepticism around about Linux gaming. First of all, Valve coming out and defining system based on Debian has helped a great deal. Devs know what to expect, how to test against potential Linux platform. As Linux user base is very technical, they have no problems to adapt, and they provide great feedback. So this perception is slowly, but surely changing.

I agree that small and medium games have no issues to adapt due of platforms they are built upon. As engines are getting more and more automated, this clearly will ensure that some devs will keep releasing Linux ports.

As for games using home grown efforts there's lineup of solutions growing.

It seems people are bit afraid to believe in SteamOS, just not to get disappointed again. It's a risk Valve and even more Linux gamers take. However, long term investment doesn't detract me from playing games on Linux finally. I just can do it and it makes whole world of difference. While it remains to see how Steam Machines will work out, it seems to me that community as whole and Valve have done a lot to make it happen. Valve needs better marketing and lot of community ideas thrown around (like having SM grading system and matching them to games) has been interesting to say at least.

TLDR while it is healthy to remind skeptical, more or less this summary provides interesting positive feedback from devs how all this could work. Yes, some of the devs clearly do trials on Linux mostly due of SteamOS, but I would also go out and say that SteamOS/SM success/failure is something we will see over longer period of time. Judging by Valve comments, they are in for long haul. So why just not strap in and enjoy the ride.
Eike 20 Apr, 2015
Quoting: zimplex1I love these types of articles... It's very fascinating seeing how developers feel about supporting our OS.

That's the single most important type of article to me on this website, and the first I saw (might have been the first at all) made me come here on a daily basis to take a look at the other articles as well.

Keep it on, Liam!
Liam Dawe 20 Apr, 2015
Quoting: Eike
Quoting: zimplex1I love these types of articles... It's very fascinating seeing how developers feel about supporting our OS.

That's the single most important type of article to me on this website, and the first I saw (might have been the first at all) made me come here on a daily basis to take a look at the other articles as well.

Keep it on, Liam!

I will do my best.
Purple Library Guy 20 Apr, 2015
Quoting: stss
Quoting: seveni don't wanna spell doom or anything but i don't think steammachines gonna be a success, i hope i'm wrong but i don't see them kick a dent in the xbox/PS universe

The comforting thing about this though is that Valve doesn't expect it to compete with consoles. That's just not what it was made for, and I'm pretty sure they are well aware it's catering to only a small portion of their overall users. So even if sales aren't spectacular it doesn't mean the project was a failure at all.

It's good to keep that in mind, because I think the biggest threat to steam machines is not the low quantity of people who will buy them, it's all the people who are no doubt going to be comparing steam machines to console sales and spreading FUD all over the place the moment they realize steam machines sales don't measure up (which they almost certainly won't).
It's a threat to their success because it could cause even less people to buy steam machines when people see "not successful" all over the place, even though that standard of success is an artificial one that valve was never shooting for in the first place

Welll . . . On one hand, my impression was that competing with consoles was to a fair extent exactly what they were intended to do. Not precisely, perhaps, they'll do other stuff as well, but there's a big overlap there. And so I'm kind of hoping that they will indeed successfully do that (unfortunately current price-points on Steam Machines publicized so far are not creating optimism on this front, although I doubt that's the final word).
But on the other hand, it's true that from a Linux gaming perspective, even a relative flop will be a success. I just looked up sales totals for the PS IV and the Xbox One; 20 million and ten million, respectively. I seem to remember there are currently about 1 million Linux users registered on Steam? So, say Steam Machines take 3% or less of the major console market--that is, sell 5% as many as PS IV, 10% as many as Xbone. That'd be a million units, which would double the number of Linux boxes on Steam, which would vastly improve the chances of a port beating break-even. If Steam Machines became a minor competitor in the console world, like 10% of the market, that would in a stroke catapult Linux over the Mac for purposes of PC game sales.

One nice thing is that Steam Machine success isn't self-limiting in the way that a true new console would be. That is, normally if you start a new console from scratch, a simple competitor to the big PS and Xthings and I guess Wii, one big problem is having games exist and continue to be developed for it. If you don't win big right away, whatever market share you got at the start is doomed to erode and disappear fairly soon, because developers won't bother. It's happened before if I'm not mistaken. But with the Steam Machine, it plays PC games as long as they're ported to Linux (and to some extent even if they aren't--that streaming thing). It already before release has a catalogue of over 1000 games, albeit mostly indy. If it has any success at all, that catalogue will just get bigger and higher-end, which allows Valve to build on initial mid-level success in a way that a typical new entrant to the console space could not. And near as I can figure, Valve is very good at steadily building on initial success.
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