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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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Shmerl 9 August 2018 at 9:12 pm UTC
Yes, good point. Leaving reviews and thanking for the Linux release will give them more appreciation of the Linux user base.
LibertyPaulM 9 August 2018 at 9:35 pm UTC
My problem is that I am utterly shite at reviewing things and that is true of games, music, books, films etc. I am hopeless at putting my thoughts on a game into words and then putting those words into a review and my fear is that I just wouldn’t do the game justice.

One thing I think is understated as a contribution to games, particularly indie games, is the fact that Linux users talk to Windows gamers a lot. For example, I have turned Windows gamers who would normally just play the Destiny’s and the Fortnites onto games like Ballistic Overkill and Star Traders: Frontiers just by sharing other people’s reviews with them. They had never heard of these games so I have created interest in good games in my own way. I know it’s not as visible as writing a review but not everyone has that ability.
Alm888 9 August 2018 at 10:16 pm UTC
ShmerlDo you mean to leave reviews for Linux releases, or to leave them for Windows only releases and comment about interest in Linux versions?

IMO, a review should be just that: a review. This means one must at least play the game in order to judge it and vocalize its flaws/strengths. Otherwise it will be like "I haven't read <author's name, usually Pasternak>, but I condemn him/her!"

That being said, if one played a game in WINE, I see no problems with him/her leaving a review and marking it as "WINE experience" because, obviously, those playing the game on Windows might have different results, and this review helps other WINE-users to better weight the purchase (not that I encourage WINE-targeted purchases, it is NTNB for me most of the time, but that's just me).
ShabbyX 9 August 2018 at 10:38 pm UTC
If you don't have the writing or language skills, or you just don't feel analytical, I believe writing a review like this would be much better than nothing:

"Works great on Linux, thanks".

It's not a great review, but shows us the Linux port is solid, shows the devs we appreciate it, and gets them a +1 on their score.

Certainly better than no review.
antisol 10 August 2018 at 1:11 am UTC
I run a Steam curator called linuxgamer (https://steamcommunity.com/groups/games_for_linux) which only reviews Linux games. Devs are welcome to send me keys for games to review, and I review many of the games that I buy and play. Regular folks are also welcome to follow it and/or get involved.

Note that giving me a game for free only means you'll get a review, it doesn't mean you'll get a positive review. But I've only ever given one negative review and that was when I couldn't get in touch with the developer to see if issues were going to be fixed.
GeoGalvanic 10 August 2018 at 1:37 am UTC
Playing/buying the games is good.

Leaving reviews is a step up.

Being an active part of the community is even better.

If 1/100 people playing are on linux it doesn't look too great. If 1/50 reviewers are praising linux it looks a little better. If 1/20 community moderators/active/helpful users indicate that linux support is the reason they are invested in the community, it leaves a much more favourable impression of the OS than just market share numbers could ever do, and does so with less people.
Comandante Ñoñardo 10 August 2018 at 1:40 am UTC
I just purchased Artifex Mundi Hidden Object (native Linux) games on GOG...
Now I have to post a review about them, clarifying that the games were played on Linux.
Asu 10 August 2018 at 2:57 am UTC
I'm bitching under every bethesda game lol...
TheSHEEEP 10 August 2018 at 6:59 am UTC
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I write reviews for about half the games I play (would leave more reviews on Steam if it didn't have that awful "only great or terrible" system, as half the games simply don't fall in either category).
And in each review I also positively mention the linux support.
Beamboom 10 August 2018 at 9:49 am UTC
This is a very good point. I've never thought of that. ... And I even love writing down my thoughts and opinions on all sorts of things :-D I guess my opinion on user reviews has kept me from writing them myself.

But I'll start writing reviews from now on, whenever I think it's worth it!


Last edited by Beamboom at 10 August 2018 at 7:34 pm UTC
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