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back to article Valve showers Debian Linux devs with FREE Steam games

Games vendor Valve has offered a surprise present to the Debian Linux community, in the form of subscriptions that give Debian project members free, unlimited access to all Valve game titles – past, present, and future – forever. According to a message posted to a Debian mailing list on Thursday, the offer is open to all Debian …

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Anonymous Coward

Damn...

I thought it was a marketing ploy until I saw that newly added titles would be free as well.

Wow...

Uncle Gabe is going to get a lot of devs helping to port games.

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Re: Damn...

Well, Steam has never been "against" Linux as such. Even in the early days, they said that it was something they wanted to do but couldn't. Steam for Linux is, undoubtedly, a success. The problem is the percentage of large studios offering games but Steam stepped up to the plate and has offered Steam for Linux for quite a while now. And it works just the same. It works well. And their converted games work as best they can. They didn't just wait until the chicken-and-egg situation could resolve itself, they pushed it and then sat staring at the game developers saying "Go on, then". Same for Steambox.

This move I don't find surprising from Valve. They care about their software-platform, not what hardware or OS you run it on. If they can sell you a game (or, now, software) on any platform, they can make money. Valve has never said "No" when asked in the past, only "We're trying".

And a Steam subscription to games that they are selling millions of units of is a drop in the ocean compared to the PR from the news of doing so, and the support of a community rallying behind them to champion their product.

Think of this - in a year's time, with SteamBox, Steam on Linux, and a year of Debian developers able to hack on the software, break it, update drivers, etc. alongside Steam... what will be the buying-base for something like, say, Half-Life 3? More or less than if they didn't?

I don't get why people are surprised by this. It's a sensible move by a sensible company.

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Re: Damn...

"I don't get why people are surprised by this. It's a sensible move by a sensible company."

We are not used to companies making sensible decisions!

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Boffin

Re: AC Re: Damn...

"....Uncle Gabe is going to get a lot of devs helping to port games." Well, yes and no. This kind of offer generates publicity amongst the Linux community and spurs individual contributors that are also gamers, but to attract professional coders and games software companies requires more business-like incentives. Uncle Gabe seems to have realised the correctness of Balmer's "developers, developers, developers" schpiel, he just needs to find a way to attract the companies to Steam on Linux as well as the geeks.

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Re: Damn...

Publicly traded companies can't afford sensible decisions. They are run by morons answering to stakeholders.

Only a privately-held company can afford to play nice.

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Re: AC Damn...

@Matt Byrant:

There are 2 things that bring the gaming houses:

1. Money

2. Money

The 1st is the platform, which has the biggest distribution, PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox one, Android, IOS, Steam OS, insert other platform...

They don't care, as long as their game makes it to the widest audience.

2. Bribes, such as Microsoft's exclusivity contracts.

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Facepalm

Re: annodomini2 Re: AC Damn...

".....There are 2 things that bring the gaming houses:

1. Money

2. Money.....Bribes, such as Microsoft's exclusivity contracts." OK, just think about that for a second - suppose I'm the director of a new games company and I have Steam and MS on the phone, both wanting to sell my super duper new game. Steam offers me free games for my team if I port to Linux and sell through them, but MS offers me cold, hard cash to develop it on Windows or Xbox first and stick it on the Live Store.... Yeah, I'm really going to turn down the cash, which will help pay the costs of development and bring me closer to break-even a lot quicker - not!

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Well clearly...

the more Debian devs play steam games, the more steam-related bugs in Debian are going to be found and fixed. Very much a win-win for two parties who both deserve a little bit of win.

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Re: Well clearly...

And yes I am aware there are home brew internet installer scripts to work around the issue but perhaps the first thing Value should do now is make sure their default installer works with Wheezy.

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Re: Well clearly...

Having it (package ‘steam’ in non-free) work properly on testing/unstable is arguably more important, given Debian devs.

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Re: Well clearly...

Would be easier to do on testing/unstable as well because Wheezy is stuck with the rather dated 3.2 kernel as well as fairly old version of Xorg.

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Re: Well clearly...

or less cause all the devs are now playing games! haha

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Re: Well clearly...

3.2 is "rather dated"? Shit, all the machines I'm dealing with at work are Ubuntu 10.04 so they're all using a 2.6 kernel.

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Linux as a game platform??

Perhaps this will move things from Windows based platforms for games. If this works out well, it would increase the stock in Linux by quite a bit.

More Linux games --> More Linux users --> More Linux games (etc...)

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Re: Linux as a game platform??

> Perhaps this will move things from Windows based platforms for games

That's the idea. Since Microsoft intends to close Windows for distributors like Valve and Origin, those distributors are trying to get gaming to switch to Linux. That's what this is about, that's what the whole SteamOS and SteamBox thing is about.

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Coat

Do I see a potential glut of Debian devs in future?

I can see the recruiters on the Debian list having to beat off the newcomers looking for a free game with a rather large stick.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do I see a potential glut of Debian devs in future?

Going to get down voted relentlessly but the legendary smugness of the Debian cocoon crowd will tame the horde. Still they really have given us so much over the years.

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Re: Do I see a potential glut of Debian devs in future?

Becoming a full Debian member is hard. The full details are at https://wiki.debian.org/DebianDeveloper, but include (amongst other things) a test of if your philosophical views on free software are up to scratch and compatible with theirs, sponsorship by a current member, agreeing to a social contract, at least six months of significant contributions, and a ton of free time to jump though hoops.

There is a reason that Debian Developers are a bit cliquey.

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Re: Do I see a potential glut of Debian devs in future? Ney Sabotage!

surely this is an attempt to stop debian development in its tracks.

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FAIL

That's Denian productivity down the pan then!

(I say in jest! - fair play)

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Re: That's Denian productivity down the pan then!

I must admit that one of my first thoughts after "that's nice" was to wonder exactly how much was going to get done on Debian this year. It's a nice way of saying thanks, and one person can only play so many games after all! ;)

And on a more pragmatic basis, the ability to actually play the games is likely to encourage the debian devs to ensure that they actually work on Debian.

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Re: That's Debian productivity down the pan then!

Exactly my first thought. They try to sabotage the Linux development.

Get an upvote for identifying the rela reason.

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probably be a low take up

(Debian user for the past 16 years)

Much of the debian development base seems pretty hard core free software... Given that Valve and their games are not anywhere close to that I would be surprised if more than a handful picked up on it.

My own expectations of Steam on Linux/Steambox/SteamOS being a success(relative to other platforms) at least in the near term (next 3 years) are very very low. Beyond that I don't know.

I'm not a gamer so I suppose it doesn't matter to me either way.

I still have some Loki games I bought back in the day that I never got round to installing. Unfortunately due to Linux's wonderful backwards compatibility they have absolutely no chance in hell in running on any distribution released in the past 5-6 years (meanwhile some how I can still play windows games that came out in 1995 in Windows 7).

That doesn't stop me from using Linux though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: probably be a low take up

There are 1200 people eligible, more or less. I'd be curious to hear your guess at actual takeup numbers.

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Re: probably be a low take up

Well... even Stallman concedes that games are entertainment and that there are going to be non free games.

I've still got games that I bought a decade ago that I can still make run. Unreal tournament 2004, Doom 3 and friends, Quake 4. At worst, you might have to drop some compatible libraries in the program directories. (Their wrapper scripts do LD_LIBRARY_PATH variables, if such paths aren't baked right in)

About the only thing I am aware of that would prevent the Loki installer from running on a modern distro is the lack of GTK+ 1.x. It's idiotic not to include that, for all the 2 megabytes of space it takes up. It still compiles, even on x86_64, with patches. (most of the problem is just the older GNU autoconf scripts and macros). Games on Linux tend to just run out of their own directories. Use the Loki installer if you have to on one distro, then just copy the game directory to other systems (stuff prompts for license keys on first run, if applicable). Mine have been moved many times.

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Re: probably be a low take up

Linux's backward compatibility is strictly at the Source Code level -- you generally have to recompile anything to make it run on a newer kernel or libc.

This is intentional. Go read the Design Philosophy.

As far as the Linux developers are concerned, users having to type "make install" again to get an application to run after an upgrade (or, re-downloading the latest version of the pre-built package; which can be handled automatically by any decent package management system) is preferrable to them leaving vulnerabilities in the kernel just so that old, legacy software can be run without being rebuilt.

With Linux, the ABI is expected to change over time; and users are expected to deal with this by occasionally rebuilding software. And it's not the Linux kernel developers' fault if some software vendors refuse to play ball.

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Re: probably be a low take up

> Linux's backward compatibility is strictly at the Source Code level -- you generally have to recompile anything to make it run on a newer kernel or libc.

...which is not that different from DirectX really.

On the other hand, Unix-in-general has a number of ways of helping you get around this kind of problem.

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Anonymous Coward

GabeN can afford to give away....

....Valve content, he does this already to all and sundry via the f2p tf2 and the Xmas L4D2 both of which I paid for when they came out. Valve have managed to create a system where their "subscribers" have paid retail price for products that can be removed from their use tomorrow and ofc he is going to want to continue his business for as long as he can get away with it.

What does interest me is GabeN's comments about M$ restricting WinRT applications to M$'s app store, M$ again aping Apple. He admits he has had a free ride up until now but is unwilling to support his old mentor, you have to love the M$ way BillG must be proud.

I also note that the "games" industry hardware and software seem to be chasing their tail atm as people do not seem to be buying into the "quick! upgrade your hardware to run the latest M$ OS so your kids can play X". I smell desperation on all fronts but if it means a move away from the current pay to be owned OS and applications I am all for it.

Personally I think ARM should look to specifying a complete system rather than just the CPU, they truly don't seem to understand their power. Its how intel and M$ got control of the home/business computer market and it's components. IMHO the time is ripe for a return to the path we should all have been following since the '80s.

I look at hardware and software and to be frank aside from being prettier and more accessible nothing has changed in the last 30+ years beyond the idea that you can claim ownership for things other people developed in the '70s, maybe with a change of platform and a return to open OS and hardware computer innovation can begin again

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Anonymous Coward

Re: GabeN can afford to give away....

Downvote for the use of M$ multiple times... Is this 1999??

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Re: GabeN can afford to give away....

Nothing has changed much in the last 30 years? Really?

So my Android tablet, Win7 gaming PC and smartphone are just the same as my Atari 2600? I think not. The rest of your post was a confused diatribe that made little sense. I can't decide if you need to lay off the pills or take more because your current dosage isn't working.

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Re: GabeN can afford to give away....

"quick! upgrade your hardware to run the latest M$ OS so your kids can play X"

Most people buying gaming hardware are buying it so they can play the games themselves. Very few people buy gaming hardware for their kids. In my experience trying to sell it, they even refuse when the game they just bought has zero chance of running on their system.

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Re: GabeN can afford to give away....

> Valve have managed to create a system where their "subscribers" have paid retail price for products that can be removed from their use tomorrow

I've been a Steam user since it was released ten years ago. Haven't lost a game yet.

> M$ restricting WinRT applications to M$'s app store

That's the whole point of the Microsoft Store: Microsoft takes 30% commission for every item sold, and the plan was/is to force all software to be sold through it. That's why Valve developed SteamOS to begin with: Microsoft's plan would kill distributors like Valve.

> He admits he has had a free ride up until now but is unwilling to support his old mentor

I have no idea what you think you're saying here.

> the "games" industry hardware and software seem to be chasing their tail atm as people do not seem to be buying into the "quick! upgrade your hardware to run the latest M$ OS so your kids can play X"

It's not a case of "people not buying in to it", it's a case of there being zero reason to upgrade. There isn't a single game which requires Windows 8 to run, and since all PC games are written for console (8 years old hardware) then ported to PC, the hardware of a five year old PC can run all present titles. Games no longer push PC hardware evolution.

> a return to open OS and hardware computer innovation

There was innovation and variety in computers in the early days because the technology wasn't mature. You see the same kind of pattern with any new technology: tons of companies with unique solutions, then gradually the market gets consolidated, and eventually you have one clear winner + one or a few niche players. It's what happened with cars, it's what happened on PC, and it's happened with mobile devices. And there's no going back.

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WTF?

Re: Vociferous Re: GabeN can afford to give away....

".....There isn't a single game which requires Windows 8 to run, and since all PC games are written for console (8 years old hardware) then ported to PC, the hardware of a five year old PC can run all present titles....." Ironically, Steam actually broke that with updates to Counter Strike Global Ops which screwed audio on the old Counter Strike Condition Zero and made it impossible to run CSGO on older systems that quite happily ran both CSCZ and the initial release of CSGO. Their forums were alight with frustrated players that found Steam was effectively forcing them to upgrade to fully DirectX 10 capable systems in order to play a new game after they had paid for it, but at the same time broke an older game they still wanted to play. They even broke the workaround of the old dxlevel startup option. So, no, Steam has not retained the ability to run everything on old PCs.

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On the other hand, I now have the possibility to legitimately run my Painkiller game that I bought years ago on DVD but with DRM so draconian it didn't even recognize its own install disk. Now that I have purchased a Gold Edition of the game for a low, low price, I can do away with the pirate copy I had to get to play MY game.

And I can run Sim City 4 again. And I got Space Marines, a game of last millenium that I had missed but knew about. I runs beautifully well.

I have CSCZ, played it for some years. I now have CSGO and am playing it twice a week on average with my friends. Never realized anything was broken with CSCZ since we haven't played it since CSGO.

Steam is the best online gaming vendor there is bar none. But everyone stumbles from time to time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: GabeN can afford to give away....

I was referring to technical innovation and if you actually understood how computers work then you would understand that in your own example 90% of the hardware technology in the "modern" devices you list was already invented when the atari was out. The screen on the tablet is about it in terms recent innovation the rest already existed albeit at a massive price difference.

So in answer to your question, yes 90% of your modern tat was already created when the VCS not the 2600 came out and you are posting on the wrong site if you don't know that.

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Can't resist

Well if he restricts them to the native linux titles then it wouldn't cost that much even retail wise currently. Yes yes I know more are coming any day now but when I have like 12 titles on my shelf for windows and like 8 of them work on the Mac client but like 2 on linux they have aways to go. And where the hell is CS GO on linux?

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Re: Can't resist

And yes DRM sucks but Steam is as good as it gets. Being able to run games you have bought 5 years later on a totally different platform is pretty sweet.

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Re: Can't resist

It's not restricted. It's all titles. Probably game beta and Dev engine rights as well. Why not?

Gabe Newell is a genius. This gives positive results in every dimension.

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Re: Can't resist

The games you have bought may not have been posted, but but there are many that have. For example, if of the entire Valve collection only Portal 2 and CS:GO don't have a Linux version (no idea why those two have been left out). I have almost a hundred titles in my library - most of which were imported via the humble bundle, and but some were recent Linux specific purchases. The others being the HalfLife 2 bundle I am bought a when Steam was first launched.

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Re: Can't resist

Yeah...

I don;t buy that many games but these days when I feel like a new game I *first* look what it available on Linux and if there is anything I like I'll buy that. I'm not going to buy a game *just* because it runs on Linux, but I will look there first now and only if there is nothing I want will I look for windows games. I'd rather run it on my linux machine than my windows machine (which I keep mostly for gaming now).

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Anonymous Coward

What about the software developers?

Okay packagers get free stuff, but they don't actually write the software, they just take the code someone else wrote and using a suite of tools turn it into a one-click install package. Calling most of them 'developers' is frankly an insult to the real developers/programmers.

It hardly seems fair that the offer doesn't apply to the guys and girls who do the programming work and who fix the bugs get nothing.

*Granted there are a _small_ number of people in the Debian Team who do actually know a thing or two about programming and do produce original work specifically for the distribution.

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Anonymous Coward

Just imagine if they were a publicly traded company? None of this would've ever seen the light of day.

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Try game streaming now

The one downside to SteamOS that I have come across so far is that it requires a UEFI BIOS, thus limiting the amount of old hardware that can be re-purposed to Steamboxes.

This is slightly mitigated though by the fact that cheap UEFI motherboards can be picked up on ebay for about £25.

Also, the game streaming is not implemented yet, but there is a way to get a taste of it now, via the open source project Limelight.

Someone reverse engineered nVidia SHIELD and the Steam streaming tech, and have released a client for Windows/Android/IOS.

It's rather nice to be able to play games on your front room TV using any old PC/Laptop as a thin client.

As time goes by, I can see a large proportion of PC gamers migrating their old hardware to Steamboxes - thus filling that front room niche and reducing the demand for consoles.

I see a rosy future for HTPC / SFF case manufacturers, not so much for MS and Sony.

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You'll be wanting Ye Olde SteamOSe

http://directhex.github.io/steamos-installer/

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Re: Try game streaming now

Installing SteamOS on a general purpose computer is pretty pointless anyway. Install a full distribution with the Steam client on the hardware you speak of.

As for the low latency kernel patches they use, that doesn't amount to a hill of beans in terms of game performance. Besides, the Linux kernel can be configured for low latency decently enough anyway with the various pre-emption settings and timer configurations.

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Re: Try game streaming now

"The one downside to SteamOS that I have come across so far is that it requires a UEFI BIOS, thus limiting the amount of old hardware that can be re-purposed to Steamboxes."

That might be something they planned. Think about it... How good would it look if every 2nd person trying it out used a Celeron laptop they had spare, then wondered why every game they tried ran like crap?

I personally wanted to try it on my spare Core2Duo laptop. No go obviously. So I pulled out the drive, hooked it up to my desktop, and tried it out on there. It's hardly worth worrying about.

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Re: "So I pulled out the drive, hooked it up to my desktop, and tried it out on there"

And if you had tried to do that with EAGames, the first time all of your games would be invalidated and you'd have to download everything again, and the second time your account would have invalidated and you'd have lost everything permanently.

But it's Steam, and Steam is more intelligent than that.

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Re: Try game streaming now

If the game is not being run on the same PC, you only need hardware powerful enough to stream a video over a network and route input instructions to the main PC.

People are doing it with Raspberry Pis for god's sake. If that is powerful enough, any PC that still works will be.

Unfortunately I was not aware of YeOldeSteamOSe at the time, so it does indeed seem that any old hardware will do.

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Clever girl...

Get a bunch of dedicated volunteer developers interested in you platform. Genius move.

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