I sent an email to Unity Tech to see if I could get anything official to put into this Linux Player feature request since people are getting a bit ragey. This is the email I sent.
Sent: 12/21/2011 4:14 PM
Subject: Query regarding Linux Target
Firstly, let me say thank you for all your hard work and in releasing this development kit the way you have. The free indie license coupled with the sheer power of the platform in either it’s variations is amazing and we’re all thankful for that, I believe. However, I just want to try to get something official from you regarding plans for porting the player to Linux (though the editor would be nice, I doubt it’s likely any time soon) . On the Unity Technologies Blog you guys had a successful build of core functionality of the Unity Web Player running in a browser on an Ubuntu machine. That was back in March, 2011. That was exciting for a few people who read the blog, I’m sure.
If you guys aren’t working on it officially for reasons of lack of financial potential or the cost of resources to develop such a thing, would it be possible for the community to organise a drive for funds to pay for the development for this task specifically. All we would need from Unity Technology is a cost and a promise to hire staff with the funds raised. This sort of thing has found success before, with the open sourcing of Blender as a shining example of what crowd-sourcing can do for software on a large scale.
If you check out the cries for Linux player support on your feedback site, you’ll see over 10000 requests for this feature, nearly 10x that as requested for the GUI Editor changes which are currently in progress. Below are two comments I’ve made on this particular issue, back at the end of October. (my user-name is wolflogic there)
Thank you for your time in reading this, and I hope to get something back from you. I want to post whatever you reply with to the Unity Feedback thread in question, as the people there are beginning to cry foul and assume that you guys don’t even read the feedback posted.
wolflogic commented · October 27, 2011
At time of writing, this feature request is ranked 1st, with 9,096 votes in its favour. Reading through comments, it’s been first for at least 6 or 7 months. The next ranked item in the list for a GUI Editor only has 1,805 votes in it’s favour. Why has the Linux player build target essentially been ignored? One of the reasons I left Linux as a primary OS was lack of decent games. A unity player would open up a massive library of content on Linux and bring more business.
And with the Humble Indie Bundle campaigns, it’s been evidenced that Linux Users are more open with their pockets for quality games than those on the other platforms.
wolflogic commented October 27, 2011
@Bugsbane — I would definitely throw cash at a kickstarter project if it were to get this done, player or editor, or both. Ultimately the player is more important than the editor, but I think a large number of people would fund both projects.
I have to wonder if this is something that the community could organise with Unity Tech to make it as easy for them to have to do as little as possible aside from hiring developers?
I got a reply pretty quickly; about an hour or so later. Their reply is below. Graham did counter with some valid points that we the community should probably address.
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2011 17:00:30 +0000 (GMT)
From: Support <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: Query regarding Linux Target
We have a few developers who have been working on Linux in their spare time. For us to sell this as a feature, we need to know there is a market for Linux export. We estimate that a full-time dev, QA and support engineers dedicated to this platform would run at around $250k/year. This would equate to around 170 Pro sales per year. We do not think that there are 170 people who would purchase Pro simply because we support Linux. We would love to be proved wrong. There’s no need for the Linux community to fund the development, just commit to buy the product. With the exception of the HumbleBundle packs we don’t know who is making money from Linux gaming.
We don’t think that the 10k requests for Linux all come from our development community. At least, when we ask our customers we get a different response. We get lots of requests into the support team from end gamers who want to play Unity games on Linux, so some of the feedback is from end users. Those end users should be demanding that the people who make games with Unity support Linux, and for those people (our customers) to tell us what revenue they are loosing because we do not support Linux.
Shipping the linux webplayer on a single distro (presumably Ubuntu) is easy. It’s the on-going support for this, and constantly keeping it updated as the product evolves that is the issue. If we released support for Linux and then dropped it in the future that is kinda worse.
Note that in 2012 we’ll have support for building to Flash, and that will work on Linux, so our customers will be able to target Linux gamers.
For an official comment you need to reach out to our founders. My reply is based on my position providing support and being involved in QA.
He brings up a valid point. 10000 signatures saying “we want to be able to play Unity games on Linux” is not the same as 10000 devs saying they want to sell games to Linux users AND that they intend to buy Unity PRO. Now that they’re not getting money from the Indie license, if people aren’t buying their pro licenses, they’re not making any money, regardless of how many platforms are targeted. I assume this is why the PC/Mac versions are free but even basic iOS and Android targets are $400 a pop. Would anyone buy pro if it was the only way to build for Linux? Some would, but would it be enough to warrant the time and effort in maintaining the platform? What if it was another target like iOS and Android, $400 for basic and $1500 for Pro? Then what happens if you want to go Pro for all 3 (Win, Mac and Linux) then do you have to buy Pro for a “PC” twice?
Definitely something that we should think about, I think. Instead of just screaming that Unity is ignoring us, perhaps we need to talk to them in a more professional manner. Perhaps we should present substantial business cases as to how we as Linux developers will be a boon to their product?
Edit – 2012-03-13-1113
I did actually receive another email from Graham as part of that conversation which I failed to upload. It didn’t change much, just added further information supporting their reasoning. Since I’ve been linked to by ubuntuvibes on this post, I figure I’ll update with those missing emails.
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2011 22:37:08 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Re: Query regarding Linux Target [ ref:00D2M42f.5002Juziw:ref ]
Good that you have some ideas now. Bear in mind that Linux is easily mistaken for open-source, which is easily mistaken for “no money”. We’d do a Linux version if we can see a commercial reason to do so. There is a food chain here. If end gamers want to spend money playing games on Linux, so game developers can make money making linux games, and spend some of that money buying tools from us, then it’s a business. And if that model is repeatable every year (meaning more teams end up buying licenses) then it’s a sustainable business. And, as I said, we know about the HumbleBundle – that is the example everyone gives. We’re just missing other examples of how our customers can monetise the Linux market. Just *assume* we’d never make a free version of Linux export, and charge $1500 for Pro and $1500 for a Linux add-on. Who’s up for spending that money? Are there people out there who’d pay this to get the ability to target Linux gamers? (I am not saying we’d never make it free, but we’d need to get money from customers somewhere…)
————— Original Message —————
From: Richard Cuddy
Sent: 12/21/2011 5:53 PM
Subject: Re: Query regarding Linux Target [ ref:00D2M42f.5002Juziw:ref ]
Thanks a lot for taking time to reply and offer that point of view. It gives us a point to address and work on instead of shouting blindly into the internet hoping someone’ll pity us! I’ve posted your reply and my thoughts onto the issue in question (and my own blog) so hopefully something can be worked toward from the Linux community to show we’re a viable consumer base as developers using your tools, and not just as players of games!
As for the Flash build target, that will be truly awesome when it is launched. I’m looking forward to that one personally, but not as a “it’ll work on Linux” but just because I’m quite keen to see how well it’ll take advantage of the new Molehill. I’ve done AS3 dev in the past so it’ll be a pretty amazing addition to the tools, for sure.