In the Linux Community, we are focusing a lot on what we get (i.e. new games, new ports, new open source projects, 800 games on Steam, etc…) while it is also interesting to focus on what we miss. The glass is surely getting fuller but let’s not forget it’s still half empty, if not more. As a gamer, I like to play a number of game genres, and while I try to spend my gaming time exclusively on Linux, there are several genres that I miss on the platform.
First, good first person Racing Games are clearly missing – we did have a release of Flatout 1 and 2 on GOG not too long ago, but these are WINE-wrapped versions and these games are already kind of old. Things are starting to look up a little since Project Cars, that looks absolutely fantastic, is said to come to Linux in 2015 (not as a first class citizen release, though), but in the meantime apart from using WINE, you are left dry. And while Open Source alternatives are numerous (TORCS, etc…), they do not hold up very well in comparison with the best closed source games out there. There were also rumors of GRID2 making it to Linux but so far they have not been confirmed either.
Sports games are nowhere to be seen either (I am deliberately excluding Football Manager since it’s more a management simulation than a Football game). While there is tremendous opportunity there (sports games like Soccer tend to have universal appeal and popularity), it is hardly surprising. FIFA is controlled by EA (and EA would probably be the last company from which I would expect any kind of Linux support, since they do not even release their games on Steam anymore for Windows, but on their own Origin client), Pro Evolution Soccer by Konami (Japanese publishers, don’t even mention the name “Linux” to them unless you want to stare at blank faces)… our only hope is 2K Games. 2K has the NBA2k franchise at least, and they have been supportive of Linux ports for a while now (Civ 5, Borderlands 2 and Pre-Sequel, Civ BE). There has been no indication of any sports franchise making it to Linux however, so at this moment there is not much hope in sight.
Multiplayer Card Games are few as well. There’s no Magic or Might & Magic: Duel of Champions on Linux, just to name a few. The void is especially felt since Hearthstone from Blizzard has been a resounding success in 2014 on many other platforms, while Linux is left apart. There are a couple of Open Source alternatives, but I am not sure how well they hold up again versus the commercial offering. One thing is sure, if you had a popular game like Hearthstone on Linux, you would not need to look for a long time to find someone to play against.
We do have a few like Ryzom, Wakfu, 8bitMMRO, but none of the most popular franchises out there like WOW or Final Fantasy XIV, and there’s many more on top of these two. Community size is a very important factor for a good MMORPG experience and unless you get into massive communities you incur the risk of going for a stroll in an otherwise empty world. WOW seems to work well on WINE but the absence of an actual Linux client is still frustrating. But rejoice, soon Shroud of the Avatar will be released (it’s already available for Linux as well as Early Access on Steam) and that should fill the gap somewhat. In the next year (or later) we should be getting Star Citizen which is regarded as a MMO game with certain RPG elements. Things are looking up with serious contenders coming in the Linux arena.
EDIT: This is a genre I forgot when I first published the article (thanks for those who pointed it out). Once again there are virtually no games in that genre on Linux, while we were supposed to get Skull Girls at some point until the developers decided to screw a little those Linux users who supported them on Kickstarter (it’s a little more complicated than that, but it’s the impression everyone got at least) and asked for community support to make the port happen on Linux. Who knows, it may still happen but at this point it’s not up to them anymore. The most popular games on Windows and consoles are absent (no Street Fighter IV, no KOF, no Blaz Blue, no Tekken or Soul Calibur) and the fact that most of these games are handled by Japanese developers and publishers is not a good omen for Linux support anytime soon. But I’d certainly like to be proven wrong.
As you see it’s a little of a mixed bag at this stage. We cannot say that there are good alternatives for every gaming genre out there at the moment, but there are signs things are improving a little bit, while there is still a long, long way to go. By the way, if you think we missed a specific game genre or a particular game that would fit well in the categories I mentioned, please feel free to enlighten us in the comments.
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