GoG.com, formerly known as “Good Old Games”, has just made a lot of Linux gamers very, very happy. The crew at GoG has announced that at least 100 of the games in their catalog are going to be gaining Linux support – one of the most requested features on GoG's Community Wishlist.
This is wonderful – bordering on stupendous – news. Just a hair over half a year ago, this seemed pretty unlikely. It's great to see whatever hurdles to Linux support the GoG gang had encountered have been removed – or, perhaps, that the economics of a booming Linux gaming scene have made any remaining hurdles simply worth the effort to overcome.
Now, what exactly GoG means by “Linux support” remains to be seen. But the team stated in their announcement that they will "include games that we sell which already have Linux clients, but we'll also be bringing Linux gamers a variety of classics that are, for the first time, officially supported and maintained by a storefront like ours."
So we're likely going to see some games that already have official, native Linux versions (which includes a large number of newer, indie titles). But will we also see games that have Open Source re-implementations that can make use of the commercial game assets, such as Heroes of Might and Magic 2 (which can be played on Linux using the Free Heroes 2 engine)? It could be interesting to have a company provide official support for Open Source game engines like this.
What we are also sure to see is a set of packages to install some of the classic DOS games alongside DOSBox and a set of pre-configured launchers to make the experience as “native” as possible (something they provide on the Windows side of things already).
Currently, many gamers (myself included) download and install the Windows version of these DOSBox-based games from GoG, using Wine. We then run the DOS games in the native Linux version of DOSBox, which is a fairly easy process. But, just the same, getting official Linux packages would be incredibly handy.
The one downside here? At least initially, support will only be offered for Ubuntu and Mint. This means we're likely going to see .DEB packages (or possibly installer scripts focused on working with Ubuntu and derivatives). I suppose I can't really blame them for that. For their first Linux launch, they should target the distros with the highest market share of consumer-y users, and that would be Ubuntu (and derivatives like Mint).
That’s not much for a downside, considering the good news. And maybe, if we ask really nicely, we'll see packages for some other distros down the line.