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Snapshot Games have cancelled the Linux version of Phoenix Point

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Some news that I'm not particularly happy about. Snapshot Games, which includes X-COM creator Julian Gollop, have announced they've cancelled the Linux version of Phoenix Point.

As a reminder: After having a succesful Fig campaign last year, where they raised well over $750K which went up to over $780K after it finished, Snapshot Games also gained over $1.2 million in pre-orders from their own store. Linux was a platform advertised during their crowdfunding campaign along with it being clearly listed as a platform on their official website's FAQ. They went on to release two backer builds, both of which had Linux support and ran quite well. After spending quite a number of hours in their second backer beta, I was extremely keen for the third build which was expanding the feature-set quite a lot.

I ended up speaking to Snapshot Games, who gave me the news ahead of time so I've had a little time to think about this. Even so, I'm really not happy with the situation.

They put up a dedicated page to talk briefly about it, after I told them not to leave the reasons why up to people's imaginations. Citing reasons like Linux requiring "specialised graphics programming" as it uses OpenGL and not DirectX, they also mentioned that Linux drivers are "not as comprehensive as for Windows and Mac" requiring them to make "adaptations to graphical shaders" to get them working. Additionally, they mentioned the issue of Linux having many distributions, Linux-specific Unity bugs like "not being able to correctly render the video player" and input issues. I won't comment much on those points, since I am not a game developer and so I've no idea how Unity handles different APIs and everything else Unity does. It's clear Unity has had plenty of Linux issues in the past year though.

I consider myself a big fan of Gollop's work, after discovering UFO: Enemy Unknown/X-COM: UFO Defense when I was younger on the Amiga. So when Phoenix Point was announced, I was incredibly excited. I actually put my own money down for their "Luxury Digital Edition" without using their discount code (not exactly cheap) as I wanted to support them. So for me, this stings quite badly.

Hopefully they will properly reconsider this in time. In the grand scheme of things, it's only one game. We do have a lot of strategy games as well, so it's not like it was serving Linux gamers something we have a complete lack of. A very unfinished game too, but it's still not great to have news like this. Disappointing is a wild understatement.

Anyone who backed it for a Linux build, should contact them to seek an immediate refund. I already have and that's not me being malicious, but if they're not currently doing what you paid for, that money should be put to better use. If they do support Linux properly in future, I will likely be the first in line to pick up a copy.

Obviously, it's a reminder that during development anything can happen. When you support crowdfunding, Early Access and so on developers priorities can and very often do change. Although, that can happen after you release a game too like with Human: Fall Flat so it's not something that happens only here. It's also a reminder about being realistic. Sadly, with our current market share developers find it all too easy at times to leave Linux in the dust. There's not a whole lot that actually treat Linux as a first-class citizen outside of dedicated porting studios and individuals. This has happened around 8 times this year now, hopefully next year things will improve. I could argue that 8 games out of well over 1,100 released for Linux this year isn't a lot, but it's still 8 too many for my liking.

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jo3fis 9 November 2018 at 6:24 pm UTC
At least they were open about it and communicated with their fans.

Silent treatment would be a lot worse.

Last edited by jo3fis on 9 November 2018 at 6:25 pm UTC
micha 9 November 2018 at 6:27 pm UTC
The saddest thing is how much exposure they had here.

I'm really glad though that I held back buying Phoenix Point. I was really close to buy it more than once but always decided to better wait for the release since I wouldn't want to play the unfinished version anyways.
bradgy 9 November 2018 at 6:30 pm UTC
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jo3fisAt least they were open about it and communicated with their fans.

Silent treatment would be a lot worse.

Yeah, if you're going to pull support this late in the piece, this is the way to do it. Clear communication and an offer to reach out for support.

I'm not sold on their reasoning but it is what it is. Seems like a lot of devs are citing trouble with unity lately, hopefully that is not a symptom of a larger problem there.
TemplarGR 9 November 2018 at 6:31 pm UTC
The typical bullshit excuses were provided. When a developer includes in his list of reasons "there are too many linux distros", you know anything he says is a pile of shit. This is an argument that ONLY comes up by people who never actually bothered with Linux in the first place.

Also the game uses UNITY, so there was no issue with OpenGL and Vulkan, like at all... They have already created builds that ran fine...

I think we should wear our tinfoil hats and ponder around the possibility of certain OS makers providing "incentives" to developers in order to dump Linux. There is no other explanation. When developers use engines like Unity and Unreal, engines that can very easily support Linux, plus the games are distributed digitally in this day and age, so again, no problem with a Linux build at all, i don't see the reason to drop support other than for nefarious, anti-competitive reasons. Those are lost sales we are talking about, why they would not like to get our money?
SadL 9 November 2018 at 6:40 pm UTC
That's really sad. I hope they give us a Linux version sometime after release. *sigh*
Shmerl 9 November 2018 at 6:40 pm UTC
Unity and Unreal are using shaders in HLSL and then compile them to whatever target like DXBC or SPIR-V or translate into GLSL if I understand correctly. Their shader translators and compilers had some problems in the past. Remember how many problems Everspace had until they were ready to release the Linux version? So while engines are improving, it doens't mean they are hassle free.

I can't really evaluate what issues developers encountered in this case with the engine, but at least their comment about multiple distros is not convincing. However their point about requiring OpenGL expertise is correct. If they don't have OpenGL/Vulkan experts and can't afford them - too bad really. Gaming company should have them.

Last edited by Shmerl on 9 November 2018 at 6:46 pm UTC
Salvatos 9 November 2018 at 6:52 pm UTC
I wanted to give them kudos for making a clear announcement about it, but considering Liam had to prod them to do so, it doesn't show up on their news list and they don't even mention the fact on the third backer build announcement, I am very unimpressed.

Well, as long as they honor refunds, they're still doing better than other studios.
Maelrane 9 November 2018 at 6:58 pm UTC
I am not kidding, I was about to buy the game the next couple of days. Actually I wanted to last week, but then I was so focused on other things (among them XCOM 2 WotC), that I postponed.

What a bummer now!
g000h 9 November 2018 at 7:06 pm UTC
It is sad that this has happened. Good that the game studio has made the press release, rather than hiding it.

Meanwhile in my own space, I have 143 games in my Steam Wishlist, and rather than spend money on a non-Linux title, I can spend it on one of those others instead. My cash resources are not infinite ;)
Patola 9 November 2018 at 7:07 pm UTC
These are heartbreaking sad news. However, it must be noted that some of their "bullsh*t" arguments might not be complete bullsh*t. Like the need to support different distributions: Yeah, in theory you could just support Ubuntu and be ok with that, but it doesn't work in practice: linuxers from other distributions -- at least some of them -- demand equal treatment. It's not "toxicity", these users might even be very polite and willing to help, but each extra distribution is an enormous burden to bear for the audience. Maybe the developers get so much feedback on that that they feel having an unified linux build is an impossible task.
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