The id Software mastermind says it doesn’t make sense for game companies to offer native Linux support.
There was a time when John Carmack had a pretty solid reputation as a Linux kind of guy. I actually own an official Linux version of Quake 3: Arena, which I purchased despite not knowing the first thing about Linux because it was cheap and came in a really nice metal box. But based on his comments in a recent Reddit thread, sparked by a February 4 tweet in which he said he believed that improving Wine emulation was a better option for Linux gaming than native ports for individual titles, those days are well behind him.
“I wish Linux well, but the reality is that it barely makes it into my top ten priorities (Burn the heretic!); I use Linux for the flight computers at Armadillo Aerospace, but not for any regular desktop work. I was happy to hear that Rage ran in Wine, but no special effort was made to support it,” he wrote.
“I don’t think that a good business case can be made for officially supporting Linux for mainstream games today, and Zenimax doesn’t have any policy of ‘unofficial binaries’ like Id used to have,” he continued. “I have argued for their value (mostly in the context of experimental Windows features, but Linux would also benefit), but my forceful internal pushes have been for the continuation of Id Software’s open source code releases, which I feel have broader benefits than unsupported Linux binaries.”
He reiterated his support for improving emulation as the “proper technical direction for gaming on Linux,” noting that native ports don’t do much that a good emulator wouldn’t be able to handle. He also pointed out that most major game publishers won’t even respond to an email for less than six figures.
“The conventional wisdom is that native Linux games are not a good market. Id Software tested the conventional wisdom twice, with Quake Arena and Quake Live,” Carmack wrote. “The conventional wisdom proved correct.”