Hackenslash had posted Is Linux Gaming Plausible?. It makes for a good read, although I felt it was light on details and didn’t provide much of a definitive answer.
However, a major disadvantage for Linux gamers is the availability of DirectX in Windows, a multimedia tool that allows developers to create applications easier for the Windows platform.
“Unless DirectX runs on a different platform, it (Linux game development) might not really take off,” Gotangco said, adding that Linux gaming and game development would most probably remain an “indie” or independent industry.
DirectX is a Windows technology, and as such it is platform-specific. I don’t see Microsoft opening up access to their API to other operating systems. Since some major games, notably Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament 2004, have been ported to Gnu/Linux without the “advantage” of DirectX, it shows that Gnu/Linux game development is entirely possible and doable. Like DRM, DirectX isn’t a requirement for game development.
Multiplayer game servers are almost always provided for Gnu/Linux, and so the porting effort shouldn’t be too difficult for the client software. Unfortunately, when a developer uses a platform-specific tool such as DirectX, the porting effort becomes difficult. To create a version of the game that runs on a different system, you essentially have to gut your game code to remove the DirectX-specific parts and replace them with something available on a the target platform. Most developers will decide that the rewards would be too little to justify the expense of making such drastic changes to the code.
Still, I don’t believe that game development will be so dreary on Gnu/Linux.
A few Linux gamers actually have ways of circumventing the cross-platform issue of playing an enticing Windows game to Linux, without having to port it. One answer is just emulating the game for Linux. But according to Zak Slater, this isn’t an accepted industry and he said it is better for users to buy Linux versions or directly create Linux-native games.
I am 100% in agreement with Slater. I am not a fan of technologies like Wine or Cedega. It’s great when it works, but I would rather have native support for my platform of choice.
While the Linux gaming industry would not certainly be able become as big as traditional PC gaming, both Slater and Gotangco agree that Linux gaming is there to stay. They suggest that Linux game developer-hopefuls can get their Linux game fix from Icculus, Pompom Games (www.pompomgames.com), Tux Games (www.tuxgames.com), among others.
I’ll also note that the Torque Engine from GarageGames is both inexpensive and cross-platform, so games like Orbz and Dark Horizons: Lore can have native Linux-based clients right out of the box. With more indie games like those, I don’t think that we’ll have a problem if game development on Gnu/Linux remained an indie industry.
Also, using open source engines will probably become more common in commercial games. The infrastructure of a game isn’t the game, yet developers always spend a lot of time on recreating it. Using existing tools just makes sense, and using open source tools gives you a number of advantages, including the ability of your more technical customers to give you more than a simple bug report.
I believe that gaming on Gnu/Linux is definitely plausible. It’s very difficult to tell how many Gnu/Linux gamers there are since there are hardly any games available for them and they’ll likely pay for their games on the Windows system for lack of a better choice. They WANT native games for their preferred OS, and so far there aren’t many options.