Battlefield dev: Linux needs one killer app to take off

DICE creative director Lars Gustavsson says open-source operating system could explode in popularity with the right software.

With a killer app or game, open-source operating system Linux could become a major player in the gaming industry, according to Battlefield studio DICE creative director Lars Gustavsson.

"We strongly want to get into Linux for a reason," Gustavsson told Polygon. "It took Halo for the first Xbox to kick off and go crazy--usually, it takes one killer app or game and then people are more than willing [to adopt it]--it is not hard to get your hands on Linux, for example, it only takes one game that motivates you to go there."

For Linux to grow in popularity, it must be convenient for users to the point where it becomes an integral part of their lives, Gustavsson said. He added that DICE already uses Linux servers because it is a "superior operating system to do so."

Linux is already catching on with one major industry player. Valve has expanded its Steam library to support the operating system, while the company also recently announced plans to release its own SteamOS and Steam Machines based on Linux.

Gustavsson characterized Valve's recent Steam announcements as "super exciting" because these news products and services will open new ways of play, he said.

"The only thing I know is that from five or ten years from now gaming and especially how you consume it won't look like it does today," he said. "I do think with streaming services and new input devices and so on, it wouldn't surprise me if there is less need of hardware and more on demand gaming experience."

DICE is currently working on Battlefield 4, Star Wars: Battlefront, and a new Mirror's Edge game.

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Discussion

79 comments
mbloof
mbloof

I don't really see what the point is. Is it a question of quality, performance or control?

MS has complete control over their OS, the DX API and their WHQL rating/approval system for OS drivers. I won't bother commenting on how many godzillion Windows machines are out in the wild but surely more than all portable and console gaming platforms combined. 

However, unlike the generic windows home/office applications consumers can purchase there is no certification or promise that a GAME will run on ANY machine running Windows or how well it might run if it does because of differences in performance of the machines themselves and what other applications and software the consumer may have already installed.

While many PC fanboi's poo-poo at the concept+idea the reality is that many modern titles don't look or play all that bad on 360/PS3's and there's a usually at least 1 title each year that looks/plays downright STUNNING on them! How on earth can they squeeze out such visuals out of 8yo hardware? This brings out the age old question of "why can't our PC games look breathtaking?". The popular answer it seems is that all cross platform games are developed with the limited abilities of the console in mind and 'ported over' to the PC. Another answer is that while our PC platform has enormous CPU/GPU processing power compared to the 8yo gaming hardware much of that raw power is sucked up by Windows, its API and all the other crud that might be running in the background. (ever boot WIN7 to your desktop and LOOK at how much RAM is left over?)

Creating a Steam games only Linix distro might take MS and Windows (and all the silly background applications) out of the picture but without proper drivers for GPU cards (and a constant stream of updates) it just creates yet another platform for games to fail to work properly on.

Just look at iOS and Android for a live example. In the 'Apple world' any app you purchase for your phone or tablet will work fine with it. However (until recently) I have little or now way of knowing if a Playstore app will work better on my phone or my tablet or work well on both or not at all on ether. There is simply to much fragmentation in the Android market place.

A PC is even worse. There are more PC configurations and performance levels than there are automobiles on the road. Simply painting them all the same color won't change their underlying performance. Dropping in a different OS won't change the underlying differences in hardware.

If steam truly wished to move PC gaming forward they'd release HL3 (or other 'killer must play title') with a minimum PC specification equal to decent high end modern day PC hardware. This would force all the gamers using outdated hardware to upgrade.

holtrocks
holtrocks

I'm just waiting till SteamOS comes out.

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

Considering that most PC gamers are computer illiterate and that Microsoft keeps dropping the ball, Linux is already a decent gaming platform. It just needs BETTER DRIVERS.

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

It's an operating system not a console you doink. And it's a FREE OS to boot, so no it doesn't need a stupid overhyped "killer app"

jehnubis
jehnubis

Half Life 3 is the ONLY killer app that will unleash Linux to the masses. Especially, if Valve creates an graphics API like DICE's "Mantle," for linux users. Microsoft OS and Mac OS is finished.  Is Valve willing to take this great risk? Then again, i encourage you all to enjoy your Windows 8!!

GH05T-666
GH05T-666

I hope Linux gets more support and takes off!

bluebird08
bluebird08

i wish that DICE would support MAC.

keyb0red
keyb0red

Never going to happen.

Linux is too niche an OS and for too long it's market has been solely technical people

And I'm sure all you guys who are excited about linux would have had your share of unix shell script programming or at least know some of the more arcane unix commands :-)

Renegade__angel
Renegade__angel

Okay. I hate Windows a lot. I love Linux. I'd rather us it or OSX and I only have 1 machine running Windows and it's nothing but a toy for games only. That said, you can't phase out Windows at all. It's FAR too mainstream ESPECIALLY with common N users.


I use Linux mostly for servers, but I'd LOVE to have it on a big powerful gaming rig. If I can phase out Windows from my life and stick with OSX and Linux, I'll be the happiest man on earth. Hell, my Gaming rig has no internet browser or any Windows components that aren't mandatory. It's a lot of power to waste on just games. I enjoy it, but I'd love to have it running Linux.


That said, I think SteamOS will be VERY N user friendly. And keep drivers up to date and overall run smoothly. All I want to see from it that no one has said anything about, is a better boot loader. GRUB isn't 100% reliable. Now I've never had it mess up, but my dad did. And he Lost his default Windows installation. I want Dual booting to be encouraged and supported better in the form of a better, more stable boot loader than GRUB. Something that can dual boot OS's better and not mess up. I've seen GRUB mess up, nothing on my personal computers, but on friends and family I have. Make it friendly to dual boot with Windows or OSX (Mac users might finally be able to turn their purchases into more stable game stations, if they wish to do so with SteamOS) and I'll be sold.

kritvichu
kritvichu

All I need from linux are;

1.Stable drivers to support current and old printers

2.Able to view Libre Office document without readjusting the layout (Layout changes from MS Office to Libre and vice versa; it is ok to use for individual, but sending out or receiving from someone with Office is a mess. I have to readjust the layout everytime and it takes lot of time)

3.Good photo and video editor

4.Games with equivalant performance as Direct X

Then, I will say good bye forever on Microsuck crap!!

Jebril
Jebril

I agree with a lot of people it's going to take more than just one game, but it's definitely a start. Gaming was one of Linux's biggest weaknesses in the past so it's good to see it's growing and actually starting to be one of it's strength. There's still a long way to go though, but this is definitely a start if more and more gamers start adopting Linux as their choice OS companies will pay attention and follow the money, not just gaming companies too. As it stands a lot of software like Photoshop and Sony Vegas would help push Linux forward into mainstream, a younger and more tech friendly audience shifting to Linux would help this.

eze_sl89
eze_sl89

 Im amazed how people in these posts, haven’t even talked about two major critical aspects:

1)Linux having just a “killer app” or “killer game” is not enough to make people switch from windows to linux. why? because NOT everyone in the world is a gamer, or/and NOT everyone in the world is going to be interested on that killer app. PC users are not just gamers, and gamers are not the ones who decide the faith of a OS. You have to consider the 70% of the rest of the users (teachers, scientists, workers of ridiculous variety of jobs, family, girls, etc).

2)Linux is not yet fully prepared to be considered as a gaming OS, even tough it has Steam. Yeah, sure it has Steam, but 90% of the games there are not abailable for Linux anyway ! Come on people, last time i was using Ubuntu, i couldnt download 80% of the games i had in Windows, and just Coutner strike was available, not even GO, just Source and 1.6, and i have  A LOT of games. Same happens with Steam MAC users, yeah , they have steam, but game variety is very limited. So whats the point?

Dont get me wrong, im a huge fan of Linux, specially Mandriva, Fedora and Ubuntu, but Linux is not prepared for the general public now. End of story.

allever
allever

Linux has been around for a while now.  It has had enough time to shine.  A killer app seems impossible.

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

no need killer app, just make the OS as dumb as possible... so my family could adopt it at the living-room (or even a desktop) majority of people are not programmers... Linus Torvald failed to see that...

JLCrogue
JLCrogue

I think he's talking about Half-Life 3... you heard that Valve? If you want people to adopt SteamOS and Linux in general release Half-Life 3 already! And make it exclusive to SteamOS. Maybe then people will start using it and more developers, like DICE, will port their games to Linux and we can finally say no to Windows and use Linux. No more paying $100 for some buggy OS that can't even fix itself when it breaks (even though Linux can fix Windows).

Zloth2
Zloth2

No, in this case a "killer app" will just get linux in the door.  With a console, many people will pick one or the other but with linux you can just install it on a partition, play the game, then jump back to Windows.  If exclusive games don't keep showing up for linux, the partition will just get dropped and bye bye linux.

bizuit
bizuit

I use Linux Mint almost everyday but I can't imagine a lot gaming software being built for it.

ravientia
ravientia

Battlefield 4 is looking better and better! At the end, those waves were getting mighty!

kutulu1
kutulu1

The PS3 and PS4 are already Linux based. Maybe the PS2 was also.

TERMINATOR-SSD
TERMINATOR-SSD

HINT BLOODY HINT.............

SteamOS is getting ALOT of eyes opening for the Linux world. the thing just needs for support from developers to back it. Steam is.

LittleMac19
LittleMac19

I doubt it, strong marketing works wonders and that's what Linux needs.

abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

I agree linux needs an exclusive killer game that does something on linux that it cant do on windows like much better speed or something. Linux needs a good reason to get people to switch just saying its alternative it not gonna be good enough we have windows and it works well

You have to prove linux works no hassle, is much faster or better in some easy to see way, and that kind of thing. It of course needs all the games.

PStrife
PStrife

I've been hearing these same catchphrases about Linux's would be success for like 15 years.  Think about that for a second.

Everyone ignores the lackluster and non-existent marketing and distribution issues with Linux.  That is why Android and even iOS have become far more popular OSs that have already eclipsed it, they have those two glaring problems actually solved.

Stesilaus
Stesilaus

Gustavsson: "I do think with streaming services and new input devices and so on, it wouldn't surprise me if there is less need of hardware and more on demand gaming experience."

Am I the only one who cringes when games industry representatives talk about "streaming" and "the cloud"?

I don't mind the idea of streaming level data, textures and so forth, but I absolutely detest the idea of having every frame of animation generated by some server in the cloud and delivered over the network to a dumb, terminal-like device.

"Hmm.  What resolution should I play at?  What frame rate should I expect?  Lemme ping the network to decide!"  P*ss on that!  :-/


obenns
obenns

Bang on the mark. Well said Gustavsson.

bouchart
bouchart

Part of the problem with Linux is that Windows based games have been around for decades, so anyone with a collection of Windows-based games will be reluctant to switch.

Solace427
Solace427

@bluebird08 MAC and gaming is difficult because of Apple. They are strict as hell. For example: Infinity Blade 3 for the iOS has to stop being updated because they are having difficulty getting permission from Apple to release an update for the game running on iOS 6. Messed up right? When apple loosens up on their extremely tight grip, I believe more will gladly support MAC. Until then it is more trouble than its' worth

Iddhi
Iddhi

@keyb0red Is Android hard to use for non-technical people? That's Linux based, plays games and you can run a terminal if you really want to.

Why shouldn't a desktop gaming distro be as easy/popular?

Sl4cka
Sl4cka

@keyb0red"Linux is too niche an OS and for too long it's market has been solely technical people"

That is completely bull, I know plenty of people who have very basic computer skills (e.g. they wouldn't know the first thing on how to install windows) and are using Linux just fine. Maybe you shouldn't repeat things you heard somewhere 10 years ago.

eze_sl89
eze_sl89

@Jebril i agree but you dont need photoshop in linux, you have GIMP, champ

jcknapier711
jcknapier711

@eze_sl89 I used Slackware for a number of year and I found it relatively easy to set up and play a few games with Wine.  The reason I stopped using it was that I just got tired of configuring ever last stupid thing I wanted to use on my PC.  I don't mind tinkering, but not everytime I turn on the computer.  At least, that's how it started to feel like.

Linux is a great OS for learning about computers as well as programming.  It's so easy to compile programs in Linux.  Everything's just built right in.  I don't even know how to compile in windows.  Plus, it's good as a server whether it's a plain old file server or web server.  

 As a straight up desktop windows replacement, however, it's pretty lacking.  Most people can't even configure things in a windows control panel, just forget about them ever editing a config file or compiling that oddball driver for that one odd device you have.

s3as3a
s3as3a

@allever It also had a lot of "marketing" AGAINST it. Microsoft, for instance, tries to associate the term "Linux" with "scary" and "hard-to-use" because its a competing product that happens to be both superior and free in terms of price (and freedom). There are hardcore Linux distributions out there but, there are also easy-to-use ones like Ubuntu and SteamOS.

jcknapier711
jcknapier711

@Ladiesman17 Linus Torvald does not sell Linux to anyone.  He didn't fail to see anything, because he did not try to create something to be used by your grandmother. He knows that he didn't create a dumb OS, and I can only assume that he's proud of that fact.  Nor was he trying to compete with Windows.  I suppose you could say he was competing with Bill Gates to create better code, but that's not the same thing as trying to market a product.


Linux is user friendly.  It's just that you have learn how to use it.  The vast majority of people do not want to take 1 minute out of their day to learn anything.  That's why you think that Linus Torvald has failed to make it dumb.

Jebril
Jebril

@Ladiesman17 Certain distros are fairly easy compared to Windows, for example Linux Mint I consider simpler than Windows. The myth of requiring knowledge of terminal commands died in 2010. After setting up a Linux distro it will never slow down, rarely get messed up, and require no knowledge of the terminal. The only things that require knowledge for Linux past the point and click are setting it up and fixing something that messes up which is usually rare now a days TBH.

mbloof
mbloof

@Zloth2 Yup pretty much. I have a dedicated gaming box but if SDD space becomes an issue and the new game I want to play is WIN-DX only guess which partition I'll keep?

I don't mind the idea of a 'steam only box' which ether plays steam games or lets me use the steam website/community.  However we'll likely always be stuck with Origin and the others and require ways of playing their games as well.

JLCrogue
JLCrogue

@Zloth2 Linux doesn't need many (or any) exclusives to get me to drop Windows. If all the Windows games that I play get ported to Linux and all future PC games will be on Linux too then I would stop using (or buying new versions of) Windows in a heartbeat.

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

@LittleMac19 build the GAMES and people will follow. A few timed exclusives will do wonders, and after that when people see that it works great it will all build from there. 

Unraed
Unraed

@abcdefgabcdefgz Linux does cost 100 dollars or so cheaper than Windows.  Linux only needs to be on par with Windows and a lot of people will switch. 

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

@PStrife again the misperception of Linux is astonishing.  Linux is not used much on PC as there is no company that would go against Microsoft, and Microsoft does not want Linux in any PC.  Thus major distributors did not touch Linux. Another company sued the users of Linux with Microsoft backing to threaten anyone who even though about using Linux. 

SO to say how its not a major OS is just to say that Microsoft has been successful in keeping Linux a minor OS. 

Yet still Open Source is being used by many people and is growing despite the many obstacles.  So imagine what will happen once Open Source and Linux become highly used!!!!!

Unraed
Unraed

@PStrife Android is Linux!
Sure its been modified by a big company but so is SteamOS.

mathg04
mathg04

@bouchart You can run windows application with wine on linux. They don't work as smooth as they do on windows, but since it's open source, I think this would evolve quite well if there were more former windows user using linux.

VR_Verdugo
VR_Verdugo

@bouchart I'm hoping Valve will be the catalyst that gets more gamers on Linux, and once that happens I think there will be a greater economic incentive for companies to port old Windows games to Linux. Well, I have my fingers crossed but I'm not holding my breath.

Solace427
Solace427

@Iddhi @keyb0red Android is built ON Linux hiding anything "too technical" for the common user by given an (usually) simply GUI with easy to understand features and functionality. I understand what you are saying though. It's possible but for other companies it may be a long slow process to support and Linux OS. That also has to wagered against whether or not a company believes it is worth it.

jcknapier711
jcknapier711

@s3as3a @allever Linux isn't about marketing.  It's not competing against anything.  It is what it is.  It's a geeks OS.  Always will be.  It's not something that was ever intended to take marketshare from anyone.


It's 100% free as in freedom and free beer.  Facebook is not free.  There's a hidden cost.  You may not hand money to Mark Suckerberg, but he's making money off of you.  This is not the case with Linux.

allever
allever

@s3as3a @allever That's just an excuse.  Linux would have been more user friendly if it did what Microsoft did.  Microsoft moved from DOS to Windows, making it much simpler to use.  As of this day, Linux is still living in the past as a "DOS" shell.  I'm sorry, but it IS a difficult OS for the illiterate general public.  No "marketing" tricks will change that.

The Linux "status quo" is to keep going the same route.  I know, a lot of time and money has been invested into the project, but I think they should change course and introduce Linux 2 -GUI built from the ground up. No KDE/Gnome gimmicks.

Smosh150
Smosh150

@Unraed @abcdefgabcdefgz You have lost me here. How is it cheaper when it is free? Unless you are meaning that it is free, just odd to say cheaper for a free product.

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

@Unraed @abcdefgabcdefgz but people do not realize this, because windows is so built into every system. For those who build their own they do not use Linux because windows paid off the games companies to  not use Linux and pre-built computers run windows so its a circle that Microsoft established and maintains. 

bouchart
bouchart

@VR_Verdugo @bouchart That very well could be possible, but for the most part only high profile games will be ported over.  Besides, I don't want to buy all the games I already own again.

VR_Verdugo
VR_Verdugo

@bouchart @VR_Verdugo I agree, though I will say I've had cause to repurchase some games (from gog) that wouldn't work on newer versions of Windows and, while it sucks to pay up twice, I'm glad the option was there. I wouldn't want to rebuild my entire game library on Linux but I could see myself buying a few of my top favorites. Personally, I would just like to be done with Windows and games are the only thing holding me here.