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This subject seems to be discussed lately, with some ideas tossed around in the GOG wishlist, but with little to none feedback from GOG. May be it's good to open a discussion here on the forum about it, and hopefully GOG folks can provide some insight on their plans, or what prevents them from implementing these.

So, I'll summarize some ideas which were generated:

1. There is probably no need to provide Wine wrappers for all games on GOG to ship them for Linux (it's a big effort). Linux users already know how to use Wine and play Windows versions of GOG games like that already.

2. If some game already has a native Linux version, why not to give an option to download it on GOG?

3. Shipping a nice distro agnostic GOG packaging for such native Linux games would be great, but will require effort from GOG (also to account for 32 bit and 64 bit Linux variants).

But why not to start with packaging provided by developers first? Humble Indie Bundle for example does that and many users are happy with it. They don't repackage shipped games, and just allow to download tarballs, self extracting archives or whatever the developers prepared. It's better than nothing at least! When GOG will have more resources and time to focus on Linux, GOG can work out some nice distro agnostic packaging as well. It's workable for multiple common distros - it's not a new issue in the Linux world. If GOG worries that without such packaging it'll look like an inferior service - no need to worry. Linux folks aren't scared of such issues and usually understand the matter. You can explicitly mark such things as "beta" service if you want. So support for such things will be limited, and you can warn about it on the download page. There can be known difficulties like configuring video and audio on Linux for certain games to work, but this has nothing to do with packaging, and GOG shouldn't be scared of these as well. Most Linux users are used to this, and will try contacting the authors of corresponding games if such issues arise. Understandably it's hard for GOG to provide support for such kind of stuff. Most recent games handle these issues quite flexibly (take for example Amnesia).

4. Even if there is no Linux version for some games, GOG can link to the WineHQ AppDB from the Game page, which often describes experiences with GOG releases under Wine. That's while not strictly necessary, can be helpful to some users who aren't yet very familiar with WineHQ. It will add to the friendliness of the site for non Windows users.

5. For games based on Dosbox and Scummvm, Linux users don't really need the Windows installer around them. So it would be nice if GOG could package such games in parts (i.e. the original game, plus a Windows installer and other stuff for those who use Windows). Splitting games in such fashion shouldn't be too hard. Linux users will download just the game, while Windows users will download both files and will have the same experience as now. (Unless some Windows user prefers to use Dosbox and Scummvm directly as well).

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Related wishlist items:
* Add Linux versions of games
* Alternative OS Forum (Linux / MAC)
* Show which games use DOSBox or ScummVM
Post edited June 10, 2012 by shmerl
I would say that the bigger issue is that in most cases Linux and Windows versions of PC games are treated as individual releases.

and much like many of GOG's titles having Console versions that GOG is not allowed to sell, in all likely hood GOG has only got distribution rights for the Windows versions or in the contract it explicitly states that they can only distribute on Windows (since most of the older games are actually DOS titles).
Well, whatever they will get. But if they can get a right to distribute some Linux release, why not? I'm sure it's not the main issue here and many developers will be happy to allow distributing Linux versions of their games as well.
Post edited June 10, 2012 by shmerl
Every few weeks the question gets raised and I think it usually ends up boiling down to us linux/mac guys going "yeah that would be nice" with a side of "but then they have to offer support."

Given the newer games direction and the availability of alternative versions through other purchasing avenues, I'm more and more coming to the conclusion that they need to just do it. It wasn't that long ago that I wanted them to but didn't really think it was all that likely/ important.

But now, maybe they should just try here and there. I understand that some devs may be resistant, but if they can make one or two scores along the way then that is something at least.

Ultimately I still have some mixed feelings in that once we start talking about supplying various version then someone is going to wonder why we get Linux version and not Steam keys which I feel is different but it could add leverage in that argument. Personally I would like to see Devs offering their customers some avenue for alternative binaries and think it is somewhat their responsibility to provide the game in whatever format the user needs if such a format is available.

I do understand that that is not always easy, but I get the impression that some devs are using such versions as a way to funnel buyers into a preferred way of purchasing their game. Which I find somewhat frustrating when I enter into a situation where I would need to rebuy a game just to get it to run on whatever system is convenient for me at the moment.


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BTW http://www.gog.com/en/wishlist/site/alternative_os_forum_linux_mac
Vote for a forum if you are interested in one.

also a somewhat recent poll trying to count the number of mac/linux users here. It didn't do as well as a poll done the year before, but its recent enough people could still post in it.

http://www.gog.com/en/forum/general/linuxmac_users_raise_your_hand
Post edited June 10, 2012 by gooberking
Looks like there are 2 separate problems here. First, that some developers are hesitant to distribute Linux/Mac versions as "the same release" for some reason (which is rather bizarre to me, but whatever). And second, that even when there is a version available, GOG needs to prepare an infrastructure to ship and support it. There isn't much GOG can do with the first issue, but the second is really something up to GOG.
Post edited June 10, 2012 by shmerl
Thank you for making me aware of that request and that poll, gooberking! I'll get right to it!
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shmerl: Looks like there are 2 separate problems here. First, that some developers are hesitant to distribute Linux/Mac versions as "the same release" for some reason (which is rather bizarre to me, but whatever). And second, that even when there is a version available, GOG needs to prepare an infrastructure to ship and support it. There isn't much GOG can do with the first issue, but the second is really something up to GOG.
When I put forth the idea that devs might be using such a tactic it is coming from my own personal interpretation of what I have seen. There may not be much validity to it and when there is, they may have perfectly practical reasons beyond trying to get the best return on a sale.

To illustrate, one example is Trine which can be purchased here, through the Humble store via the Trine website, and a number of other stores you would expect to find it on. however, only the one directly promoted from within the website will give you access every version. I believe you can still buy Mac and Linux versions out right, but it looks like you don't get the windows version when you go that route. There one deal is vastly superior to the others, and my, again my, assumption is that that deal may net them the most return per sale. Oddly GOG isn't even listed as a store for the game, but that could just mean they never saw the point in updating the list once we got on board.

Again maybe I'm just reading into things, but I remember you used to just be able to go download alternative binaries for a game(which isn't ideal but would do) from a devs website. Of course back then it was mostly just ID games .
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Future_Suture: Thank you for making me aware of that request and that poll, gooberking! I'll get right to it!
You betcha.
Post edited June 10, 2012 by gooberking
Added WineHQ AppDB reference idea to the list.
We'll probably see Linux/"alternate OS" support from GOG once someone else who can afford to risk spending resources on it tries; that is, after someone like Steam starts supporting Linux and can show that it would be worth it, in terms of profits, for GOG to take that risk themselves. GOG only has 20-some-odd employees and according to the few that actually post here, they are already way too busy keeping up with the Windows library to even consider adding Linux or any other OS to the mix. There are too many unknowns for GOG to deal with; potential issues with cross-platform licensing, package creation and testing, technical support, etc; all of which will require a significant up-front investment on GOG's part, with no guarantee of any return. Let's face it, no matter how many of us are Linux (or other OS) gamers, we will only ever represent, at most, a tiny fraction of the number of gamers there are on Windows right now. Sticking with Windows for now is the safest bet for GOG.
Yes, that's pretty much the expected issue (not enough resources). But it would be nice at least to hear it from the GOG team first hand. Some things however like linking to WineHQ entries shouldn't be a huge overhead.
Post edited June 10, 2012 by shmerl
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shmerl: Yes, that's pretty much the expected issue (not enough resources). But it would be nice at least to hear it from the GOG team first hand. Some things however like linking to WineHQ entries shouldn't be a huge overhead.
Search the forums, they've said as much themselves several times. This topic does come up quite often (seems like every few weeks) and they have taken the time to respond before, but because it is such a frequent topic, they don't respond every time (they let us parrot the answer for them).
Post edited June 10, 2012 by cogadh
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cogadh: We'll probably see Linux/"alternate OS" support from GOG once someone else who can afford to risk spending resources on it tries; that is, after someone like Steam starts supporting Linux and can show that it would be worth it, in terms of profits, for GOG to take that risk themselves. GOG only has 20-some-odd employees and according to the few that actually post here, they are already way too busy keeping up with the Windows library to even consider adding Linux or any other OS to the mix. There are too many unknowns for GOG to deal with; potential issues with cross-platform licensing, package creation and testing, technical support, etc; all of which will require a significant up-front investment on GOG's part, with no guarantee of any return. Let's face it, no matter how many of us are Linux (or other OS) gamers, we will only ever represent, at most, a tiny fraction of the number of gamers there are on Windows right now. Sticking with Windows for now is the safest bet for GOG.
Historically I have agreed with the support issue, but the big problem is its being done, quite a bit. I don't know what those numbers are like, but if HB can wad 5 games together and average something like $8 then GOG has to feel some pressure when charging $10 for one of those games and offering you only one version.

Given my situation I am looking for someone to not make me choose versions. I am currently using Linux, but I still really want the option of having a windows version to fall back on down the road. A lot of times the other version is sitting right there. Just right there,

I find it kinda frustrating that I bought World of Goo and that it has a Linux version, but I can't play it because.... I don't really know why. Maybe someone did the port and they need to get paid or whatever, I get that to a point, I would rather not have to worry about such things. I may not be entitled to or ever get what I want, but as a consumer I do want.
The subject of not enough resources and wanting to provide a quality service at all times actually came up starting from here. Needless to say, apparently it's not as much effort as GOG likes to make it seem.
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Future_Suture: The subject of not enough resources and wanting to provide a quality service at all times actually came up starting from here. Needless to say, apparently it's not as much effort as GOG likes to make it seem.
Making packages and distributing them? Yes, that's trivial. But what your poster in that thread doesn't account for is that we do a lot more than that with classic games. I'm not the guy in charge of testing, mastering, and building games, but let's just look at what *I* can think of that makes Linux release a very difficult proposition:

1: Testing. What distros do we support? There are 10 "fairly common" ones (Ubuntu, Mint, OpenSuse, Fedora, CentOS, ArchLinux, Debian, Slackware, FreeBSD and, um, I've forgotten a couple). Hardware? What level of updates? Only FOSS drivers, or can we take some closed source stuff? Once we've decided on a test bed, we still have to check the games. Do they boot? What about oddball games like, say, Theme Hopsital? There's a version-specific DOSBox-related fix there. Does it in work in any distro? In all of 'em? Managing testing across the 3 OSes we support is tough and requires a lot of time, effort, and money. How much more complex will 10 more OSes make it?

2. Support. Having problems getting your game running? We'll help you out. Contact Support and they'll try to diagnose your problem and offer a solution--but they only know how to fix common (and less common) Windows problems. LInux is famous as the hacker's OS--that is to say, the OS of people who like to do odd things with their hardware. If someone contacts Support because he can't get his copy of Fallout running on his Raspberry Pi with a video out that's connected to a six-panel e-ink display and he wants his money back, well, that puts us in a bad spot.

3. Maintanence. Across those 10 common distros, how often does one of them update? Quarterly? Monthly? I don't know, but the answer is certainly "often". What do we do if slackware updates and breaks the functionality of a glide wrapper that we're using for all of our games? Or if FreeBSD removes a driver from the kernel that we depend upon in order to run some games? Just planning for Windows 8 is a minor headache--ask Tolya about his test plans if you want to hear an earful--but planning for a wide spectrum of OSes that have constantly changing sources and see major feature and bugfix releases more than once a year? Man, that's a Herculean labor.

This is a thumbnail sketch of the challenges that await a digital distributor who wants to release games on Linux and who also wants to provide proper support when doing so.

Of course, we could just release a client, sell the games, and figure that you can sort the rest out yourself--I'm sure some businesses may even consider that a successful business model--but that's not really the GOG way of doing business. ;)
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TheEnigmaticT: but that's not really the GOG way of doing business. ;)
That's the way with taking care of your customers! Thank you :)