Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Ubuntu and new indie games, a great combination

Where to start...
It's been far too long since my last blog entry and a lot has been going on in the FLOSS / Indie Gaming since I posted. So while I can't talk about everything, here are a couple of the latest happenings.

First off, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx is out and after waiting a week or two to make sure that it wasn't going to torch my system, I upgraded. Frankly, besides the new Mac^H^H^H purple theme, an improvement over the brown one, the biggest change has been adapting to the shift of the buttons to the upper left instead of the upper right of windows. Debate on this topic has been heated. Some people like the change, while others are less happy. In the end, I'm not finding it as hard to adjust to as I had imagined, but it still feels like an unnecessary change that will hamper adoption by Windows refugees. While my system has never been unstable under Linux, Lucid hasn't crashed yet, surviving several of my battles with PulseAudio without faltering. I've glanced at some of the packaged software changes, but since I only upgraded an existing install of 9.10 instead of installing fresh, I already have most of my standard programs installed. Overall, it seems like a step up, definitely a cleaner and better upgrade than from 9.04 to 9.10.

Next, the Humble Indie Bundle has come and gone. I offer my condolences to anyone that missed out on this awesome deal. In case you missed it, a group of indie game developers each put a game in and the bundle was sold as "Pay what you want" with the proceeds being split between the developers, the EFF and Child's Play. Once they hit a million dollars, the sale was extended and 4 of the 5 developers committed to releasing their games (or at least their engines) as open source. In the end they brought in a little over a million and a quarter, with over $200k going to each of the charities.

In addition to raising a ton of money, the Humble Indie Bundle made some remarkable discoveries. One feature of the bundle is interoperability. All the games run natively on Windows, Mac and Linux. During the sale, the page displayed the average amount paid and the total collect broken down by operating system. While Windows users accounted for around half of the money collected, Linux users accounted for 25% of the money collected despite making up less than 5% of the desktop market. Further, on average, Linux users paid around 80% more than Windows users and 40% more than Mac users per purchase. Linux users are usually seen as cheap since they are using a "free" operating system, but we are clearly willing to open our wallets for a decent product, and when we do, we are more generous.

The other observation, made on Wolfire, was that despite the bundle being available for as little as a penny, there was still a significant amount of piracy via posting of download links. While some folks are just pirates-4-life and will pirate everything regardless of price, john, the author of the post, opines that most of the pirates in this case where potential customers that simply did not have access to the tools needed to pay, namely a PayPal account or a credit card. In the end, the programs are DRM free, so the organizer's response was to just ask those that needed to pirate the games to use Bittorent instead to save on their bandwidth.

I hope to post some reviews of the bundle games over the next few weeks so stay tuned.