THQ evaluating Linux

Jason Rubin attributes decision to Humble Bundle feedback, says Saints Row: The Third sales topped 5.5 million before promotion

THQ's pay-what-you-want Humble Bundle promotion went well enough that the publisher is considering some other new strategies to boost sales. Answering a customer inquiry on Twitter over the weekend, THQ president Jason Rubin said he "got the message loud and clear" from gamers who wanted Linux versions of the Humble Bundle games, and added THQ was already doing a cost-benefit analysis on the idea.

Rubin later clarified his comments with Polygon, saying "The message I took away from a large number of tweets and comments around the THQ Humble Bundle sale is that there are vibrant communities of gamers using other operating systems besides the dominant ones, and a company like THQ should not overlook them." He added that gamers have suggested a number of ways to keep the cost of Linux ports down, such as enlisting the help of the Linux gaming community to handle some of the workload.

Rubin also posted a new sales total for one of the featured THQ Humble Bundle games, Saints Row: The Third. According to the publisher's president, the game had sold 5.5 million copies before the Humble Bundle promotion. More than 885,000 bundles were sold, but only those who paid more than the average price ($5.76, by the promotion's end) were given a copy of Saints Row: The Third.

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Latest comments (13)

Pier Castonguay Programmer 5 years ago
Linux community sure have a big voice, but I'm not sure they really have that much paying customers.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
Well, it doesn't need that many... The key number is "more than is required to cover the costs of porting the product". And the Unity-based project they're doing? Well, that's not going to cost anything to port is it? "Out-of-the-box Linux support".
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Dave Wolfe Game Developer, Cosmic Games5 years ago
@Pier There's obviously far fewer Linux users than Windows or Mac, but I think part of why it seems there are few paying customers is because Linux gamers tend to have a Windows or Mac computer as their gaming computer. How many games are released with a Linux version the same time as the Windows/Mac version? I'm not going to wait years to see if Skyrim ever gets ported to Linux, I just buy the Windows version and dual boot. If I could get the Linux version the same day (or even after a reasonable delay) then I would get the Linux version. Of course, that means that the total sales will still be about the same so where's the incentive for developers to risk a Linux port?

@Morville Just because they make a small profit doesn't mean it's worth their time. There are plenty of big companies that won't bother with something if it doesn't have a good chance of making a sizable profit, because otherwise the risk doesn't justify the reward. Also, just because Unity has built in Linux support now doesn't mean the cost of porting is zero. You still need to do a Linux build which may require at least a little bit of platform-specific code, do QA, and squash any Linux-specific bugs. You also will need to hire QA staff that is familiar with Linux or train your existing staff. The same is true for the IT staff.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
True enough, though it's not just about profit. Or at least, it shouldn't be purely about profit (though in THQs case...). The more reliance there is on Windows-based gameplay, the more reliance there is on MS, with the DirectX API. One of the strongest cases I've read for Linux gaming is that it would refocus developers onto the OpenGL API, which can only be good in the long-run.
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One thing we can consider is, say we aer running THQ, would we consider either converting our existing stable of THQ games to LINUX. would it be in hosue or via a specialist contractor orfactor in damage limitation, and seek stablization by plugging any further drainage of fiscal holes, and limp to a safe harbour into 2013
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Rob Jessop R&D Programmer, Crytek5 years ago
At Free Radical the main development platform was Linux for many years and we had working versions of our games running in OpenGL. It's a little tricky though; support for DCC tools, consoles and graphics card drivers was being abandoned or was a low priority for vendors.
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Alexandros Gekas Co- Founder, Editor, Ragequit.gr5 years ago
I wonder if THQ's Linux plans are in any way connected to Valve's upcoming living room PC/console.
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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 5 years ago
I don't remember the last time I actually paid for anything Linux based. I have serious doubts that there is any money to be made here. If Valve somehow convince companies to back Linux it will be as well as, not instead of, the normal channels.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 5 years ago
@ Peter

Well, yes. In the same way that Mac gaming is as-well-as, not instead-of, Windows gaming, there's no reason why Linux shouldn't be the same.

@ Rob

With Valve making a push for Linux gaming, hopefully the driver-and-support issue will be less of a problem in the future. The ATI/Nvidia duopoly shouldn't care that people don't run games on Windows, just that people buy their graphics cards.
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Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.5 years ago
The ATI/Nvidia duopoly shouldn't care that people don't run games on Windows, just that people buy their graphics cards.
That would involve AMD (and Intel - see Baldur's Gate's issues) actually giving a monkey's about OpenGL. Here's hoping.
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Adrian Herber5 years ago
I read in a feature about Steam & Source engine linux support that AMD and/or Nvidia driver teams were working closely with Valve, improving their linux display drivers and fixing any found bugs, including the teams flying out to Valve headquarters for some face to face sessions. The result was the source engine game LFD2 running stably and FASTER on OpenGL/Linux than it did on DirectX/Windows (on the same hardware obviously). Sounds like the linux drivers are getting some serious love.
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Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.5 years ago
@Adrian: Yeah, that would probably be this Valve Linux blog entry from August. Personally I have yet to see it for any of the chips I have hanging around on my desk, but I have hopes that it'll permeate through eventually.
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gi biz ;, 5 years ago
I would normally say this is good news, but what upsets me is that indies have been supporting Linux for years, giving us (sometimes very late) releases of Super Meat Boy, Voxatron, Lugaru, Tiny and Big, just to mention a few. Seeing how easily the upper levels at THQ are giving 10.000$ to charity on Humble Bundle, spending the 50-100k to make the Linux version shouldn't be an enormous risk for them. In fact, I suspect they could pay a freelance with money from their own pockets and still don't give a damn if they sell only 10 copies. Heck, with the loot from this bundle they could finance the port of all of the games and still have enough left to drawn a town in booze.
Instead they just stand back and never dare to do anything they hadn't tried. So indeed, there isn't a single machine running Windows in my house, I buy games for Linux, I donate and all, but I'm not sure I'd spend a cent on THQ games. Especially seeing this turn-around after the copy-and-paste they gave me by e-mail only a few months ago.
You guys here seem to be very pragmatic about income, numbers, money and stuff, so much that you forget games are about innovating, experimenting and bringing fun to as much people as possible.
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