Linux Could Be A Problem For MMO Handheld The Jungle

Panasonic's recently unveiled portable massively multiplayer online gaming platform won't be a success, can't be a success if there are no games to play on it.

And since The Jungle will run Linux that could be a problem. Why?

According to at least one massively multiplayer online developer, Linux isn't exactly a great system to develop games for or port over Windows or Mac games to.

"The Linux user base is too small for the financial risk, Linux users are generally savvy enough to make their OS run whatever games they want anyway, and since the Linux community is very DIY-minded, they tend to not want to pay for much," said Ryan Seabury, creative director at NetDevil for LEGO Universe. "All of these make it a pretty bleak area to publish games into."

Seabury said that while porting a game from Windows or Mac to Linux isn't rocket science, "it's also usually not worth the cost and it's difficult to find talent with the right expertise."

Founded in 1997, NetDevil currently has more than 200 employees working on two announced and one unannounced games for the PC. With all of that PC and online multiplayer experience, Seabury isn't sold on the idea of The Jungle.

"Portable gaming is good, but targeting one specific genre of game is limiting," Seabury said. "If you're going to lug around another piece of hardware besides a phone, iPad and/or laptop, you'd want it to play as many kinds of games as possible."

Other challenges that The Jungle faces includes the still unknown price and the devices interface.

"With the face of mobile gaming heading towards light weight devices and multi-touch user interface, a larger full keyboard clamshell seems a bit out of place," Seabury said. "Having premium content partners would be key for this, because if it's just going to run browser based experiences, smartphones and tablets can provide that already and are much more practical in other functions as well. Linux OS will be an obstacle as well in this regard. And finally, in a market where you can buy pretty high end smartphones for a hundred bucks with a contract, or a decent netbook for a couple hundred, The Jungle would have to be a pretty low price point for such a specialised piece of hardware to gain any traction."

Seabury also notes that creating a usable graphics user interface for deep massively multiplayer online games at normal PC screen resolution is already challenging for developers. Making the screen smaller, he said, only increases that challenge.

While I'm no developer, I can't see myself carting around what looks like a super-sized 1980s pager.


    it's called wine

    They can use linux easily using WINE providing they use an x86 processor.

    I would have thought the biggest challenge would be what processor to use. If they use an x86 processor the device will suffer a big hit with its battery life.

    If they decide to use an ARM processor they lose the ability to use x86 games(Except browser games) but gain battery life. Unless they of course get the big players to port it across and well what are the chances of that?

    Would love to see it though.

    I think you guys are missing the point. He said it's not "rocket science". What he is saying is that it doesn't make business sense to do the port.

    I agree that this portable is doomed to failure, even if it wasn't for the fact that it is a portable gaming device whose main aim is online play? Did wireless internet suddenly become awesome?

    What's with the smear campaign on this? It's a hand-held Linux computer, what's the problem?

    Trying to give the iPad a leg-up by purporting that it plays more games? Good one, guys.

    "Linux users are generally savvy enough to make their OS run whatever games they want anyway"

    Whoops! Back-pedal time. From no games to any game they want?

    It doesn't seem like a slow week for news, what's the agenda?

    It sounds like Seabury is scrambling for answers to a question he's never actually thought about, aside from the usual gaming mantra of "Linux is bad".

    It is a small DESKTOP market, but that's a non-issue when it comes to a handheld or mobile device - the PSP and DS/3DS aren't Windows or OSX, yet games will get developed for them anyway.

    Wine/Cedega is not an excuse to stop porting games. It helps, due to the fact that there are many many games which will absolutely not receive a port, but it's not perfect, never has been, and will always be playing catch-up. Some people develop cross-platform engines that can read the original game data, but that takes years of volunteer effort, and is often legally vague depending on the IP holder.

    While Linux users are very DIY-minded, the belief that they are financially stingy is utter rubbish. We will pay for games, if you make them for us. We regularly pony up more than Windows users do for the same titles, even years after their release. Indie games? We'll lap them up.

    Obviously Seabury hasn't been looking in the right places, as there are publishing/development houses that will offer to pay HIM to provide a Linux port.

    So, what's the real argument against the Jungle?

    The first 2 games on Wine's AppDB top-10 platinum list are WoW and Guild Wars.

    And didn't you guys already post an article showing that Linux users actually pay more for games? And Mac is also based on Unix. I don't know much detail about this... But wouldn't porting a game to Mac be about the same amount of work as porting one to Linux?

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