While I beat the drum about supporting GNU/Linux gamers, more than a few people have noticed that the world doesn’t revolve around Windows vs Mac vs GNU/Linux anymore. Jeff Tunnell wrote in February that putting your game on OS X and GNU/Linux is not enough.
Instead of debating OSX, Linux, and Windows vs. just Windows, you should be considering all OS’s, Flash, the browser, Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, Steam, Instant Action, Greenhouse, your own site, iPhone, Android, other smart phones, Nintendo DS, Xbox via XNA, XBLA, Playstation Network, Wii Ware, box distribution, Casual Portals like Big Fish Games and Yahoo Games, Flash Portals like Kongregate and New Grounds, international portals.
When I worked to convert a game to Flash and bring it to Facebook, Sea Friends was the result. And until I made this effort, I didn’t realize how much Flash, Facebook, and the web in general were individual platforms.
When Netscape and Java were new, the promise was that applications would no longer be locked into the operating system you were using. All work and play would be in the web browser. The push got stopped long ago, but look around you today. Facebook is huge, and more people spend time logging in there than many other sites. The iPhone had a gold rush, and Android phones may have their own.
And the platforms impact how you play. Games available through Facebook and other social networking sites tend to be social games. It’s only natural. If you can’t interact with friends in some meaningful way, your game won’t get played. iPhone games tend to be quick and easy to play, which are perfect for people who are sitting on a bus or waiting in line somewhere.
If anything, supporting Windows exclusively, as many indies do, is a sure-fire way to marginalize your game in the world. Supporting Windows exclusively is easier, yes, but why should you expect that doing the easy thing will be profitable?
But the bigger point is that supporting Windows, OS X, and GNU/Linux aren’t enough. Does this mean that Joe Indie has his work cut out for him? Perhaps, but it also means your game has many ways to meet potential players. You have many options for testing your game designs long before you invest years of your life into the implementation.
Always see, and really see, what is possible.