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Linux just needs one killer game, says Battlefield dev

Linux just needs one killer game, says Battlefield dev

Mon 14 Oct 2013 5:32pm GMT / 1:32pm EDT / 10:32am PDT
TechnologyDevelopment

DICE creative director Lars Gustavsson says open source operating system could have huge future in gaming

Linux is just one big game away from establishing itself as a key part of the mainstream gaming industry. That's according to DICE creative director Lars Gustavsson, who told Polygon that the Electronic Arts studio is keen to start working on the open-source operating system.

"We strongly want to get into Linux for a reason," Gustavsson said. "It took Halo for the first Xbox to kick off and go crazy - usually, it takes one killer app or game and then people are more than willing [to adopt it] - it is not hard to get your hands on Linux, for example, it only takes one game that motivates you to go there."

The key is making it convenient for customers, he added, something deeply integrated with their lives. DICE already uses Linux servers because it's a "superior operating system" for that purpose, Gustavsson said.

DICE isn't the only outfit with designs on Linux. Valve has already expanded its Steam storefront to the operating system, and is building its new SteamOS off the technology, a move that garnered Gustavsson's approval.

"Basically for different ways of accessing customers and giving them possibilities of play, I think it is super exciting," he said. "The only thing I know is that from five or 10 years from now gaming and especially how you consume it won't look like it does today. I do think with streaming services and new input devices and so on, it wouldn't surprise me if there is less need of hardware and more on-demand gaming experience."

15 Comments

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,210 2,051 0.9
Popular Comment
1 key game is not enough. We always talk about a solid library of games...not just 1 game.

With Linux, the problem is 2 fold. It's not just about having a solid library but enabling the average PC gamer to have access to a Linux distribution without damaging, harming, alienating or making it difficult to transition from their Windows OS to their Linux OS.

In fact, if I were a big player at Valve, I'd be working on a Valve OS distribution that included a very basic virtualization functionality, a few demos and a couple of full games. Then I'd market the hell out of it.

In all honesty, they are losing revenue by not doing what I just laid out.

Posted:6 months ago

#1
I agree Jim, it would need at least 2 or 3 incredible and exclusive games to make people begin to notice. I dont see anyone having an incredible game allowing it to be exclusive to linux. Who is willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars?

Posted:6 months ago

#2

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

423 362 0.9
Linux needs Microsoft Office! That is all Windows really has over Linux for desktop users nowadays.

It could do with something on par with Visual Studio and VAssist for c++ developers, but that can be done under a VM.

As for a gaming machine, it just needs traction. The SteamOS will provide that so it will be interesting to see what will happen.

Posted:6 months ago

#3

Philipp Nassau
Student - Business Administration (M. Sc.)

51 18 0.4
@Jim to be fair, it's unproblematic to (un)install Ubuntu directly from within Windows nowadays, even on the same partition. Honestly, if HL3 was linux exclusive there wouldn't be much holding people back.

Posted:6 months ago

#4

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
Been hearing variations on this theme for 20 years now at least. Wake me when it happens and I promise to look interested.

Posted:6 months ago

#5

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
Popular Comment
@Phillip. Pie in the sky, ask yourself why anyone at any point would make a game that big and keep it linux only. It's suicide. In fact it's such a fucked up decision to take, the guy making it would get punted by the board faster than he could say "sudo uninstall career".

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 14th October 2013 11:58pm

Posted:6 months ago

#6

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,374 1,024 0.7
Interesting how people jump from what was said, which was "one killer app or game" to "exclusivity". Technically, it's not exclusivity that's needed for gamers to jump on board - it's doing something so far in advance of Windows that it would be crazy to not at least dual-boot. And that could be something as "simple" as releasing HL3 cross-platform, but pointing out that the graphics and frame-rate on the Linux version are so far in advance of the Windows release, that the Linux version is the best.

Though that's just getting the gamers on-board - your casuals and the like are a different matter.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 15th October 2013 7:26am

Posted:6 months ago

#7

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,199 317 0.3
@Keldon
I'm not sure office is the biggest thing, more home users I know are turning to OpenOffice, on Windows, and all it takes for many is to tell them it exists, it's free and it works.

My personal problem with Linux is when I installed Ubunto and tried to install Ubunto, after solving the problem that I only saw the top half of the screen, but needed to see the bottom to fix the resolution, was that when I tried to install code::blocks the instructions involved doing one or two more things that I didn't know how to do. When I looked up online how to do these, the ansers all assumed knowledge of something else.
It seemed like a private club where you needed to find a guide. Not only did the windows instructions require a double click followed by onscreen prompts, there is plenty on online info for beginners.
What SteamOS needs is a site with step by step instructions that assumes no previous experience.

Posted:6 months ago

#8

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
And that could be something as "simple" as releasing HL3 cross-platform, but pointing out that the graphics and frame-rate on the Linux version are so far in advance of the Windows release, that the Linux version is the best.
That's your problem though, it wouldn't be true. (Actually open gl does run the same thing a little faster than DX but not by an amount worth any trouble.)

This is the core of the reason why I've been hearing this plea for 20 years. Whilst I can provide a very long list of things that would make your computing life worse under linux, I can't think of one single area where there'd be noticeable improvement.

To a non tech nerd, linux is simply an alternative to windows that they may have heard about. It's free, but it's missing a shitload of abilities like reading documents that people send them, running all the tools people know about, etc. etc. Not viable at all for non specialists - most of which would start dribbling if you mentioned virtual machines or dual booting.

I'm not down on linux at all and have used it plenty under the "right tool for the right job" premise. However it's simply not a viable option for your average Joe and imo never will be.

Posted:6 months ago

#9

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

423 362 0.9
@Andrew: OpenOffice and LibreOffice are great, but there are still compatibility issues with Word and I have often had to reformat some documents using Google Docs or Word when sending out email attachments.

@Paul: Well Linux is just not geared for the casual user and I doubt will ever be, but a Linux based OS can be as we've seen with Android and netbooks. In fact Amazon's top selling laptop is the Linux based Chrome Book.

Posted:6 months ago

#10

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,374 1,024 0.7
@ Paul
(Actually open gl does run the same thing a little faster than DX but not by an amount worth any trouble.)
Actually... :)

Even a year ago, Valve's OpenGL implementation of L4D2 on Linux saw a 20% improvement over DirectX.. With software engineers from Nvidia embedded at Valve , I'm sure the improvement has widened considerably since then.

Interesting read that I happened across whilst Googling for those links:

Porting Source to Linux: Valve’s Lessons Learned

Posted:6 months ago

#11

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
And if they spent that long on the DX version, they could speed it up similarly I'm sure. The general difference is mainly down to driver level hardware locking well below the api level, which once gotten around puts both systems on par.

But taking one game from 100fps to 120fps in return for changing out and then learning a new operating system? That still goes under my "not enough for the trouble" umbrella tbh.

Posted:6 months ago

#12

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,374 1,024 0.7
Mmmm... It all depends on how much effort is involved, I suppose. The beauty of the L4D2 test is that it runs on Source, which means anything from HL2 upto L4D2 and Portal 2 will all show similar results. Okays, that's not that many games, it's true. :D But factor in the mods which use Source, and the new Source engine that's forthcoming, and I'm sure that a lot can be learnt just from this improvement.

Also, good point re: driver-level differences. I just literally-this-second came from this article; quite short, but worth a read if you're at all interested in Linux-gaming-as-possible-future. :)

Posted:6 months ago

#13

Paul Johnson
Managing Director / Lead code monkey

787 931 1.2
Sounds more like their system becoming self aware! The authors not knowing how/why something changed does kinda remind me of my experiences in linux land though, lol. :)

Posted:6 months ago

#14
"It took Halo for the first Xbox to kick off and go crazy
Um... Halo was a release title, so how do we know it was Halo that sold the X-Box, rather than just a new console being launched?

There's also a key difference. With Halo / xbox, you plugged it in, inserted the disk and started playing. Installing linux is... somewhat less straight forward. Which distro should you use? What packages are going to need to be installed? Do you want it as a dual boot so you still have all your Windows games that you love? In which case you're going to need to re-allocated partition space or plug in a new disk drive. "Dude where's my C: drive gone?" etc. Don't even get me started on the fact that generally if you want to install something newer than the packages included with your distro you have to download the source and build it yourself (not forgetting that you'll probably need to download the source for its dependencies and build those and the dependencies of the dependencies... ad infinitum).

My point is, Linux does not have the best record for being easy to get started with. Some things are down-right obtuse, so you're going to lose a lot of players before you begin. It's going to take more than just a single good game. Perhaps a special distro that makes things easy, but that just makes the decision of which one to choose more difficult!


(Sorry if that's a little ranty. Spoken by a linux developer who is longing to return to Visual Studio...)

Posted:6 months ago

#15

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