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We all know the current Linux gaming market share isn't turning heads and it can be tough to persuade developers that having a Linux version is worth it. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about user reviews and how they can help out. The primary focus here will be steam, as it’s the largest player, but this also should apply to GOG, itch.io and other stores.

Since I follow a lot of developers and talk to developers every single day, one of the biggest problems they currently face is actually getting noticed. Unless they have some fantastic marketing skills or the backing of a decent PR firm or publisher, they're probably going to struggle in the current market given how many games are bursting onto various stores like Steam every single day.

I constantly see developers practically begging for people to review their game on Steam, because of just how important they are.

With that in mind, perhaps this is a way to get developers more invested in the Linux version of their games and the Linux community. I mentioned at the start that the current Linux market share isn't great, but let's think about how many of us actually buy games versus how many actually bother to leave a review—the answer is usually not that many. I know there's a lot of seriously passionate gamers who follow us, so why don't we think about actually getting that passion properly across to developers in ways that not only helps them directly but also helps us actually get noticed?

Developers are more likely to continue supporting Linux with future games if we are useful! Especially when the majority we speak to mention that a Linux version wasn't truly worthwhile in terms of financial reward. So with this, we give them another reason to support the platform.

If more developers suddenly saw reviews from a few hundred/thousand Linux gamers, which helps them get noticed through Steam's various algorithms for putting games in front of people, this could actually help quite a lot. I'm not just talking about how Steam shows games on the home page and in various lists, but also how it tells you how many of your friends recommended it too on the sidebar of a game's page. Think about it—you’re probably more likely to actually buy a game if you saw that multiple Linux users recommend it directly.

This can then push various games in front of a wider audience for Windows and Mac too, not just Linux, resulting in developers actually seeing more sales, overall. This, in turn, allows them to continue to support their games and work on new ones. So in a way, this actually ties into the previous article "How to be a great advocate for a niche gaming platform", about how we're not just fans of Linux but the games themselves as well and I think it's a point worth remembering.

It should go without saying, but I will do so anyway: if a game isn't any good then don't blindly go giving it a positive review. If you think issues can be solved, talk to the developer first and give feedback.

Also, just to be clear on something. I'm not saying this is going to move mountains and won't really apply to bigger developers that already get a ton of reviews. That said, it does depend on the situation. For Linux porters like Aspyr Media, Feral Interactive, Virtual Programming and so on—it would still be useful to show them that the port was worth it and continue to spread the word about their ports.

So basically, for a really short version: Think about the last few games you played and if they were good, leave a review and let the developer know you enjoyed it and played it on Linux. It helps a lot more than you might have thought.

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28 comments
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bryanquigley 9 August 2018 at 7:39 pm UTC
Is there a simple way we could associate the reviews with Linux users reviewing?
#Linux #GamingOnLinux - I can see how to tag products but not reviews.
g000h 9 August 2018 at 7:42 pm UTC
Guilty as charged. Yes, I need to leave more reviews myself. Not only does it encourage the developers, but also it encourages Windows users to consider Linux, and it motivates other Linux users that a particular title is working well under Linux.

When I'm reading through reviews and spot the person has played on Linux, it certainly helps with my encouragement.
skye 9 August 2018 at 7:42 pm UTC
That reminds me I've been meaning to write up some reviews for some of 10tons games...
bubexel 9 August 2018 at 7:44 pm UTC
Me and some friends launch that game https://store.steampowered.com/app/692130/Rise_Of_Titans/ last week in early acces. Now we did a soft launch, only is accessible on south america, spain and easteuropean countries. When we have a solid build we will release it to all countries. If you are from those countries feel free to test it and submit a review ;D


Last edited by bubexel at 9 August 2018 at 7:44 pm UTC
cbones 9 August 2018 at 8:10 pm UTC
I started leaving reviews for almost all games I play now for precisely this reason. Though, do be prepared for some trolls in the toxic Windows community to leave annoying comments - I still am not sure if the best course of action is to delete those comments (which I have been doing) or to leave them there as evidence of their toxicity.

That being said, I use a modified format from Steam user headless_cyborg. I write a short paragraph about my thoughts, and add in some details in the table, here is my modified template:

[h1]System Info & Performance Report[/h1] [table] [tr] [td]Operating System[/td] [td]Ubuntu Linux 16.04 x64[/td] [/tr] [tr] [td]CPU[/td] [td]Ryzen 5 1500x[/td] [/tr] [tr] [td]GPU[/td] [td]GTX 1050, nvidia-396.51[/td] [/tr] [tr] [td]Game Saves[/td] [td]Automatically and manually with 4 total save slots[/td] [/tr] [tr] [td]Notes[/td] [td]The stories are a great way to tie everything together and add some replayability[/td] [/tr] [tr] [td]Technical Notes[/td] [td]<Poor performance in xyz area> | <No Problems>[/td] [/tr] [/table]


Last edited by cbones at 9 August 2018 at 8:26 pm UTC
nPHYN1T3 9 August 2018 at 8:11 pm UTC
I normally leave reviews for games and I used to do it for a living. I think one of the issues here is some devs are crying out for more input but people have stopped giving it because all too often we're unheard or ignored.

For example I've given super positive reviews for The Long Dark and Hinterland as a studio. I think they are a studio the Linux community should give big warm hugs to. Bohemia and Arma...not so much and my reviews reflect that...as do the insane about of crash reports and bug reports I've left that still go ignored. I get it, if 100% of the Linux community piped up (even one not playing games) would the numbers be enough for most devs to care about? Sadly I think not. So from a business perspective I can see why we'd be overlooked. However they make half baked efforts then wine when we complain, report issues or just don't giving them "10/10 for real totally legit bro" reviews. However I think most devs just don't prioritize getting the feedback they need. Again looking at Bohemia; make half hearted efforts to get others to do their market research for them all the while ensuring the project will fail and voices go unheard. If we're not worth the investment stop releasing for Linux...I hate to say that but I also hate being handed broken crap and paying full price while everyone runs off playing with their fully functional purchase and we have to sit around with digital hot glue and duct tape trying to wring out $0.20 value from an $80 purchase.

I don't think this is a simple topic because some devs might love interaction, some might feel overwhelmed and unable to field it all and some just crap on you for being honest driving up apathy and lack of care in gamers (looking at Bohemia and Obsidian). There is a lot of backhanded efforts going on and false sympathy being passed around.


Last edited by nPHYN1T3 at 9 August 2018 at 8:19 pm UTC. Edited 3 times.
scaine 9 August 2018 at 8:24 pm UTC
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I understand your frustration, nPHYN1T3, but with 107K reviews already logged for Arma 3, this article isn't aimed at them. They just don't need us as a market and actually I quite like the fact that they're experimenting with supporting us anyway. I paid full price for Arma 3 as a token of support to BI's "risk" and I'm frustrated as you that while the single-player experience seems okay, a lot of the rest is a broken mess, mainly due to their release schedule.

But as I say, this isn't about BI or their ilk. Some targeted reviews on smaller studios could really make a difference in showing developers that we're more than the 0.5% Steam survey makes out.
rkfg 9 August 2018 at 8:30 pm UTC
I want to add that it's not enough to just leave a review. It must be at least mildly interesting, informative and not short. I often see useless reviews like "good game, must buy" or some not so funny jokes (instead of a review) that still get many thumbs up. Don't be those guys, please. When I write a review I always ask myself: what would I like to know about this game that will make me buy it? Something not mentioned on the store page, something unique about this exact game. Why should I spend my hard earned money on this title and not on something else?

Sometimes the developer's description is too vague and uninformative. Sometimes to the extent that even watching the gameplay videos doesn't help. But you know that the game is a gem (or at least cool enough), it's just that the developer failed to describe it properly or highlight the unique mechanics the game has. Fix it! Write a review that makes the game look right. You don't need any particular writing skills for that, don't be scared. Just tell people what you liked in this game or something unusual you noticed.

I often write a review if I spent more than 10 hours in the game, that means I've been hooked so the title is worth it. And I help other people get hooked as well. Most of my Steam friends use Windows and that proves that Linux players are important for everyone if they help both developers and players, even on different platforms.


Last edited by rkfg at 9 August 2018 at 9:27 pm UTC
Shmerl 9 August 2018 at 8:51 pm UTC
Do you mean to leave reviews for Linux releases, or to leave them for Windows only releases and comment about interest in Linux versions? I suppose for the later case you assume playing it in Wine?

Convincing developers who aren't yet releasing for Linux can be tricky.


Last edited by Shmerl at 9 August 2018 at 8:52 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
scaine 9 August 2018 at 9:10 pm UTC
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ShmerlDo you mean to leave reviews for Linux releases, or to leave them for Windows only releases and comment about interest in Linux versions? I suppose for the later case you assume playing it in Wine?

Convincing developers who aren't yet releasing for Linux can be tricky.

I only read this as giving developers already supporting Linux a reason to be delighted with us Linux users, by leaving reviews of their Linux games. This in turn ensures some developer loyalty and shows other non-Linux-supporting-developers the error of their ways...
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