If thereâ€™s one thing that 2013 will be remembered for itâ€™s as the year gaming on Linux got serious. This is already pretty much assured due to the launch of Steam for Linux and the dozens, if not hundreds of games that will bring with it to the Linux OS. On top of that youâ€™ve got the launch of Ouya, which puts Android, and therefore Linux, in a console for just $99.
If that wasnâ€™t exciting enough for January, then thereâ€™s another bit of news making the rounds this week: Blizzard is set to release a game for Linux before the year is over.
Michael Larabel, the man behind the Phoronix website and who first broke the news about Steam for Linux, has had it confirmed by a source at Blizzard that such a game is in the works. It looks likely to be a port of an existing game from one Blizzardâ€™s very popular series, we just donâ€™t know which one yet. Initially it will be targeting Ubuntu users.
Blizzard hasnâ€™t released games on Linux in the past as the company failed to see a market big enough to warrant the cost of supporting it. It also helped that the Windows version of games like Diablo III run fine on Linux using Wine, even if Blizzard did ban such players last year.
It also turns out Blizzard already runs a lot of code on Linux, such as the server code used in a growing number of its games that require a connection to the Internet. A Linux client for the MMO World of Warcraft has also been actively developed and maintained as far back as 2011.
The top contenders for a Linux port have to be Diablo III, StarCraft II, or World of Warcraft. With WoW already having a Linux client working alongside two years of maintenance updates, it seems likely that will be the game Blizzard choose. The only question that remains is why they are doing this now?
If I had to make an educated guess, Iâ€™d say Blizzard is embracing Linux so as to ensure it can target more gamers in a fragmenting market. The market for Linux gamers is going to explode this year due to Steam for Linux, Windows 8 isnâ€™t exactly doing great, and until now Windows has always been where Blizzard made its money so it must be a little concerned for the future. You then have to consider the emerging platforms such as Ouya, which already has over 63,000 backers waiting for their console to ship.
Blizzard already has Windows covered, but by embracing Linux it can appeal to the same market as Steam for Linux as well as target new platforms like Ouya. And who wouldnâ€™t want World of Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft games running on a TV using a $99 console? Thatâ€™s potentially millions of living room gamers Blizzard could cater to with both game purchases and monthly subscription charges.