When Valve released Steam for Linux a couple of weeks ago, one of the first thoughts I had revolved around the potential success that developers would experience. Would those developers that already support Linux cause those who don’t to reconsider? Our best chance at an answer for the moment comes from the developer of Defender’s Quest, a game Mario took a look at a couple of months ago and loved.
In an article posted to Gamasutra, Defender’s Quest‘s developer Lars Doucet posted not only the number of sales made since the introduction of Steam for Linux, but lifetime sales, so that we can better understand what we’re dealing with.
During the one-week sale Valve held to celebrate its Linux launch, Defender’s Quest sold 2,423 copies, for total revenue of $16,958. Impressive – but how much of that was Linux? You might be surprised to learn that it was a mere 16%. A further 6% belonged to Mac OS X, whereas 78% was gobbled up by Windows.
Given the demand seen for Linux over Mac OS X from this one sale alone, things look promising.
Lars also conducted some research based on the platforms that were downloaded the most from the game’s official website, and there, it’s Mac OS X that places second to Windows, with 11%, leaving Linux 7% of the pie.
This doesn’t necessarily mean much on the Steam front, however, as Steam’s presence is far larger than any independent website out there. Many people frequent Steam just to see which games are released – and not surprisingly, many that make it to the front page are not always discussed by gaming websites (and it’s a shame).
With Steam selling Linux titles, and the service being as active as it is, I still believe that any game developer should consider developing for the platform. In Lars’ case, he’s confident that he made the right decision to do just that – his returns from the Steam sale alone more than offset the development costs. He did have a couple of benefits, however. He estimates that the total cost to port was $1,000, due entirely to the fact that the game is based on Adobe Air, a cross-platform runtime.
Still, had the game actually launched after Steam for Linux was already available, we might see entirely different numbers. There are many factors to weigh, this is for certain, and some of them just have to be speculated.
For more stats and analysis, check out Lars’ Gamasutra article.