September 24, 2013

Will CCP Embrace Steam OS?

It's old news that Valve announced Steam OS yesterday to pretty much universal applause.  Valve's the little engine that could, growing from a good developer to a gaming behemoth before our eyes. We feel like we've watched it happen, been a part of it, stood behind them the whole way. Everyone cheers for them. Well, there are a few people who are anti-DRM that renounce Steam as the devil, but they're pretty few in number.  And honestly, so far Valve has done very little, if anything, to earn anything but positive responses. They're the white, shining knights of the gaming world. Steam OS represents a burgeoning new horizon, one that Valve will be at the forefront of, pushing gaming boundaries further than ever before, reaching new places (and the words 'free forever' don't hurt either).  So how can CCP take advantage?

Let's be honest: CCP makes decisions based on what is going to make profits. While personally I believe that, for the most part, they are a very fan-focused company and really do hold our overall thoughts and concerns in high regard (when compared to many other companies, at least), nothing's going to happen if it represents a negative income. So CCP, like the rest of us, saw the Steam OS announcement. But unlike the rest of us, some of them weren't thinking, "Oh man! I gotta get one of those!" They were thinking, "Oh man, how can we use this to bring in more money?" Well, it's simple really. Bring back Linux support.

CCP officially ended supporting Linux back on March 10, 2009.  The official support only lasted about two years. As any Linux user will know, you can still play EVE after jumping through a few hoops, but as any Linux user will know, hoops are jumped to do just about anything. That's part of Linux's charm, after all. Of course, the major charm to Linux is that it's free, it's open source, and it comes in a lot of flavors. It's also one of the reasons that it's a fairly niche group of people that call themselves power Linux users - those that barely, if ever, use other operating systems. After all, why develop your game for Linux if most Linux users also have a Windows machine? But Steam OS is going to change that. You're going to get people who don't care anything about Grubs and Sudo commands and terminals with Linux right in their living rooms soon. It's going to proliferate like never before, all because of Valve's backing.

As of right now, Steam is only supported on Ubuntu and soon-to-be Steam OS.  That's not really a problem for CCP, as Ubuntu and Steam OS are obviously going to be closely linked so that making something work for Ubuntu's Steam will work for SOS's Steam.  That's going to allow for EVE to become accessible where EVE has never gone before: TVs all over the world, not to mention all those Linux users that had been left out in the cold, more or less.

Sure, it's possible to run EVE, like I said, jumping through a few hoops - but what about the Linux users who aren't power users? The ones that don't have all the terminal commands memorizes and prefer GUIs to interface with their machine? Even if we're talking about a small number of people here, it's basically a moot point because it's free people. It's people that basically would get to ride the coattails of all the new Steam OS users. Not to mention that the average Linux user would make a perfect fit for EVE. Linux has its own learning curve, and it appeals to certain types of people - people who like to tinker, who like to take things apart and see how they work, people who like to do things the hard way, and do it themselves. EVE is perfect for those types of people.

Any way you slice it, adding Linux support back into EVE would be a great thing now. You'd get to take a cut from two pies: the Steam OS users and the Linux users.  If what Valve says about Left 4 Dead 2 running better on Linux than any other platform is true for other games, what's to stop the future of Linux games? I'd love for EVE to be a part of that movement.