Comment: Why the Linux Port Will Flop
December 4, 2011
During early December we saw a surprising image of what appeared to be a port of Game Maker to Linux. Yet the excitement YoYo may have wanted to build, using the screenshot of the program running on a Fedora distribution, may not be manifesting itself as strongly as they had hoped.
I for one saw nothing but another opportunity for Game Maker Studio to be delayed when I saw this announcement. And I don’t believe I am alone in this point of view. Aside from Studio, YoYo are already having to deal with PC spin-offs of GM, such as the HTML5 edition. And lets not disregard the ol’ faithful Standard edition.
If we all sit back and take a moment to recall Game Maker history, there was a time when a port to Mac was the “big plan of the future”. It had Macintosh users purched on the edges of their seats, regularly looking for news of the release. And then out of nowhere a good year or more after the announcement, out plopped a half backed, outdated port for Mac that left few impressed. GM4Mac has grown to be a little better over time, but it still needs work, and fast. So why exactly are YoYo trying to cover more platforms when they haven’t refined their last endeavor?
YoYo may feel that this approach equals more cash. Hopefully this isn’t their thinking.
Mac users take up a significantly bigger market share than Linux does, and there is arguably more opportunity for exposure when creating games for OSX. Apple also has a distribution system making the process a whole lot more enticing. However GM4Mac hasn’t been received as well as many may have expected. So how will a Linux port do, in a “niche” community, that is filled with freeware indulging cheapskates (myself included)? Not so well I feel. I believe a Linux port, assuming it comes out in 2012, will be a flop (though if the Mac development history is anything to go by, we won’t be seeing a port to Linux for quite some time).
In saying this, an eventual port to Linux is welcomed. But is now really the right time? Probably not.
I sometimes wonder if YoYo is getting a bit carried away with their plans for extending the GM product range. The concepts seem good enough, but why does it feel like everything is being rushed and has to happen all at once? Even from an enduser’s perspective, its getting messy. Or at least it feels that way.
Though lets be fair to YoYo and their plans for Linux for just one moment. Sure, while we selfish Windows users may have to stretch our patience further when it comes to updates (unless YoYo becomes neglectful and caves into updating for PC more often than other ports) it is hard to not be a little excited about the port. After all, unlike the Mac edition, everyone will be able to test the Linux port when the time comes, since its a free OS accessible to anybody. Though one can’t help but feel this is a pointless exercise in covering more ground with operating systems.
Maybe the accessibility of Linux to the existing PC user base will be the secret weapon the Linux port needs to outdo the response that GM4Mac received.
Time will have to settle this one, but for now, it might not hurt to get your Ubuntu discs in order (or OpenSuse if you care to look past your doorstep– gotta love that green lizard).