Boston Globe on Linux Gaming

February 26th, 2004 by Crusader

The Boston Globe published an article yesterday on the state of gaming on the Linux platform. Quotes from Bob Zimbinski of the Linux Game Tome, Transgaming’s Gavriel State, and Epic’s Mark Rein are included:

Epic vice president Mark Rein said the decision to offer Linux servers forced his hand. “Our feeling is we can’t give them a Linux server and not give them a Linux client,” Rein said. “That wouldn’t be fair.” So Epic created a Linux “client,” a full-fledged version of the game, complete with all the complex and expensive 3D graphics.

No good deed goes unpunished. Rein said that while at least half of all Unreal game servers are running Linux, fewer than 1 percent of the players are using the Linux version of the game. Rein doesn’t seem to mind. “Sometimes you’ve just got to do the right thing,” he said, “even if it doesn’t make you money.”

15 Responses to “Boston Globe on Linux Gaming”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I pre-ordered UT2004 so there’s some money for them :)

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I wish that more people had the same mindset of the people at Epic. Too bad a lot of Windows using folks will run Linux servers whether or not there is a Linux client. And I doubt that Epic would lose many servers if they chose to forego the Linux client yet they still do it.

    I think it’s funny that they say that Linux users only account for about 1% of the clients in games and other accounts will tell you that the UT series is the most popular played on Linux. Yikes!

  3. blueworm Says:

    I’m not into ut.
    I’ll buy it nevertheless it will keep me entertained a while.

  4. Starbuck Zero Says:

    Linux gaming has come a long way.

  5. theoddone33 Says:

    I think the most recently posted numbers showed an increase from 1% to 3% of people using the UT2K3 Linux client.

    I think “well we released a Linux server so we should release a Linux client” doesn’t make sense at all. Not that you should need an excuse to write portable code.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    There’s something about the gameplay of the original UT that I prefer strongly to the nerwer versions. Unfortunately, I can’t play it online because of all the servers running the UTpure mods that effectively lock out Linux clients, so I need to get in the 2k3 habit.

  7. zealotasd Says:

    And what about all the users that don’t ever register on Epic’s network, including the *gasp* pirated *ungasp* ‘ware? ;-) Yea, you forgot that statistic, didn’t you: the ratio of pirated Win32(…and win64) UT* users is astronomically higher than the ratio of ELF *BSD/Linux UT* users.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I preordered UT2004 as well. The chances that I would have even considered buying that game if there was no linux support? Exactly 0.00% I have so many problems with my windows partition that I never use it at all, even for games.

  9. utgamer Says:


    I still play the original UT online and have no problem with UTpure. You can get the linux version of UTpure from

    Happy Gaming !!!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    I was a big fan of UT and played it to death. UT 2k3 didn’t really float my boat, but UT 2k4 is freaking awesome! I’ll buy it the first day its on! The Onslaught mode is definitely a “good thing” ™. Epic people: If you’re reading this, thanks!

    -Mr. Lizardo

  11. RobSeace Says:

    Epic rocks for their support, no doubt… I’m very glad to have UT* available on Linux… But, I must say I was rather surprised to see no mention of id Software in that article… When I think of one games company that has supported Linux longer than anyone else, I think of id… The original Doom was ported to Linux, then Doom2, then Quake, then Quake2, then Q3A, then Q3TA, and by all reports I’ve heard, Doom3 will be ported to Linux when it’s done, as well… I’m not trying to start a holy war between id fanboys vs. Epic fanboys, but I just think they both are great, but when it comes to best history of strong Linux support, I think that award has to go to id (and, specifically John Carmack)…

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Methinks a big problem is that people don’t KNOW it’s been ported. Hopefully the fact that Linux will be mentioned as supported on te UT2004 box will help remedy this problem.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Epic is right about be obligated to port but there’s a common flaw in the reasoning of numbers. %1 is only people playing online. I’m sure there are many people like my sister and I who only play single player games and play UT2k3 offline. And Linux is a mass market OS now and the numbers are anything but miniscule. The number of users are very large, at least three times the size of any estimates and the current estimated market share based on pre-install sales is very large when you take into account how tightly MS tries to control the desktop.And Loki didn’t go out of business because of the market, it was poor management.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    A few notes, a few people here are a bit naive about ports. Not only do you have to pay for the ports of your game, but there are marketing costs, support costs (even if you say you don’t support the Linux version, you’ll still get Linux people asking for support and that will mean time spent handling that), and then things like testing, to be sure that the version that goes on the disc is working fine. This means you could potentially delay the game until all the ports are ready to ship.

    Delaying a game is possibly the most expensive thing you can do, as the advertising campaigns are set up months ahead of time (print mags especially can have months of lead time).

    It also means any patch you release has to have an equivalent amount of work put into them, as you have to release patches for every platform and then test them to make sure they’re all co-existing well for multiplayer games. This is very expensive and requires a lot of coordination between all the involved parties.

    Finally, talking about writing “portable code” is a bit of a silly topic nowadays. D3D code is portable to the Xbox (where you can’t use OpenGL). Would you say that writing your engine to support D3D is not writing portable code? You could equally say the same about writing an OpenGL engine. So really if you want to do a console version, Windows version, and Linux version, you have to now add the cost of supporting both D3D and OpenGL to your engine.

    So while I obviously support Linux gaming, you really have to consider the business aspects of this. For Savage I put my ass on the line with our publisher and promised to have a Linux build ready for the gold master so Linux gamers could rejoice at having linux support on the disc, but we almost had huge problems fitting both versions on the CD while we were crunching at the end of the project. There are very real business costs to consider, so it’s not purely a “it costs them $20k to do a port, so it’s definitely worthwhile” kind of argument.

    Jon (Slothy)
    (the guy who did the Linux port of Savage)

  15. salsadoom Says:

    I know from experience, that a lot of linux gamers tend to play their games in windows. They have a linux copy they install and play once and a while, but most of their gaming gets done in windows since they just have more games now. Thankfully, this is actually not much of a problem for me now, with games like UT2004 and NWN for linux…

    But the problem is dual-booting. We want games, so we keep windows around for them, but the game companies see us using windows and assume that there are few linux gamers because of that. If there is a linux port of a game, we should all be making a point of only using that linux port — otherwise we are damaging our cause. UT2004 especially!

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