After a very long time of waiting the interview with Clive Crous the CEO of Linux Game Publishing is finally ready !
1. Please tell us about yourself, where do you live ? how did you start with Linux ? games ? porting ? LGP ? and how did you end up as the CEO of LGP ?
I live in Cape Town, South Africa and started with Linux early 90’s.
I’d been using DOS primarily and didn’t like this whole new “Windows” that had come out and was introduced to Linux through a friend.
I think, if my memory serves me correctly it was a truly ugly early version of RedHat back then, probably the most popular desktop editions of Linux at that point.
I’ve always been interested in games and even designed and created my first few games while still at school.
Porting came hand in hand with my move from DOS to Linux.
At that time hardly any companies used Linux themselves so a work day involved Windows primarily but at home I was doing things in and on Linux.
Most of my early porting was of utilities I created to make my own life easier both from home (Linux) to work (Windows) and vice versa.
I’ve always been active within the Linux open source community, from the tiniest of patches to utilities I used every day to jumping on and being a devteam member for projects I truly loved.
I had my hands in several open source game engines over the years and would often be found on the Freenode IRC network, it was here that I met Michael and eventually started working for LGP.
I’d been with LGP for many years by the time Michael became ill and decided he could no longer be involved as much as he was, it was at this point that Michael approached me and asked if I would be interested in taking over his dream.
2. It’s been several months now that you took over the company, what have you managed to do in this short time ?
Sadly most of my work has been behind the scenes as the handover to myself has been far more complicated than Michael and I ever imagined.
I have however streamlined several internal functions that required work, first and foremost being the handling of support queries.
I also spend a significant amount of time with Michael assimilating his massive amount of knowledge of Linux gaming he’s accumulated over the years.
Sadly many of the new things I have been working on I’m not at liberty to tell you just yet, but there will be announcements in the short term, specifically with regards to the distribution of our games which has been a huge problem up till now.
Most recently a lot of LGP’s focus has been on fixing a problem introduced in the latest release of Ubuntu.
Several of our games that run without issue on other distributions and even on prior versions of Ubuntu simply fail to run since the 12.04 Ubuntu release.
Obviously our existing customers who have bought games that “suddenly” don’t work have to be a priority and we’ve been working with Canonical looking into this
This is the primary delay at the moment and has to be fixed before any new titles are announced and/or released.
3. Are the sales from LGP/Tuxgames steady over the years or are they in decline because the lack of new titles ?
There has definitely been a decline of late, but I’d put that down to Michael’s unfortunate illness and his inability to put the time into LGP which it required.
This is exactly the reason I’ve taken over and although they have declined, it’s not near as large a decline as some would think, I’d rather say it’s a decline in growth than an actual decline.
New titles would certainly help in that regard and as everyone knows we do have two that we’ve announced on the way, namely Disciples 2 and Bandits.
Once the game distribution problems have been solved and I’m able to move forward with releasing these new titles we have a few more waiting in the wings which I’m positive will receive an excited response.
4. You mentioned digital distribution, please tell us more about it and when can we expect to see and use it.
We’ve had our own digital distribution platform available for many years for our resellers to use, not only for game purchase but also for monthly rental of titles.
It has been there and will continue to run as it always had.
With the advent of game specific platforms, of which there are many, we’ve been looking seriously into expansion into these.
In the short term there are three we will be making an appearance on and have already got titles prepared for release, namely: Desura, the Ubuntu Software Centre and Gameolith.
LGP can already be visited on Desura and announcements on these platforms will of course happen within the platform itself as well as on our blog and other social media pages.
5. You said that there are a lot of things that needs to be changed at LGP, please explain in more depth and what is being done about them.
I think I’ve already answered quite a bit related to this question above.
I don’t think it’s a “lot” necessarily, but changes have already been made and several more are on the way.
I’d prefer to see LGP focus on what it knows best: porting games.
The primary change coming in the short term is the distribution of our physical games, although LGP will always do this, I think it’s best served in the short term by focusing more on digital distribution and working with our partners to make this simpler and easier for end users as well.
6. Are you going to be more involved in the community ? update your websites/blog more often ? maybe even make a forum ?
Absolutely. We have growing communities in many arenas: Our blog, Facebook, twitter and more recently on Desura and the like.
LGP has a dedicated community manager as well as myself and both of us keep a keen eye on the goings on in all these realms.
As far as a forum goes, I think for now there’s more than enough ways to communicate directly with us in a public manner, the Facebook page would be a good example
of one way which is quite similar to how forums generally function.
This again comes down to focus, I don’t want LGP too thinly spread and ideally we can spend the majority of our time updating our existing titles and getting new titles out there faster. You can find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/linuxgamepublishing
7. LGP haven’t published/ported a game since 2009, why the huge delay ?
Although we’ve not published in a while, due primarily to Michael’s illness and then my taking over of LGP, porting has been ongoing in the background.
It’s important to me that things are running smoothly before any new titles are released.
Once the delay is over and our first new titles start rolling out the delays will decrease.
8. LGP ported 8 game till now (taken from wikipedia), while Ryan Gordon ported 26 games … why it’s taking LGP (which is a company) so long to port games when Ryan Gordon alone does this so much faster ? how can LGP speed up the porting process ?
For one, LGP has ported many more than just 8 titles. Keep in mind that Ryan is hired and paid to port games, LGP pays licence fees to port games which LGP then distributes – it’s a completely different process that’s happening.
Ryan has in fact ported for LGP as well.
The process as it stands is sound and we ensure we bring quality to a first release – that said, once this transition period stabilises and once I’ve improved our distribution, the process will again perform as it should and we’ll be bringing out titles in a more regular fashion.
9. The Humble Indie Bundle gave a huge boost to Linux gaming, why don’t you take advantage of it and port games for the HiB (or other indie bundles) like Ryan does ? or maybe even kickstarter projects which Ryan received many emails from ?
This isn’t what LGP does. We port and distribute our own titles, which is what we love to do and will continue doing.
The team at LGP is passionate about our games and we want to be able to focus on the titles we’ve publishing and ensure that quality is put above profit.
I agree that the Humble Bundles are giving a huge boost, especially to the amount of people that now consider Linux a gaming platform where they didn’t before.
We’re very excited about that and it can only do us all good.
10. Except Disciples II: Dark Prophecy which is in porting for years and Bandits: Phoenix Rising, what other titles can we expect ported/published in the near future ?
We do have a few we’re working on, but I’m unfortunately not ready to make those announcements just yet 😉
11. Licensing titles to port, publish and sell is very expensive, why don’t you go with a different approach and instead of licensing titles – just collaborate with (usually indie) game developers in bringing their titles to Linux and making shared profit of the Linux sells, for example 40% to LGP and 60% to the game developers.
This seems far cheaper and make for a better profit.
Our business model has worked really well for us for going on 12 years now.
LGP is not about profit, but about the love of games and the love of the titles we’ve chosen to work on and add to our selection.
I share Michael’s vision here in bringing quality titles we’ve vetted thoroughly and ensuring that we port games our customers will love, even if they’re not quantity.
When we’ve completed a project, it’s ours and we’re proud of it first and foremost, better profits come second.
12. There are titles which are very hard to port (disciples for example) and there are much easier to port titles.
Why won’t you chose titles which are easier to port ? this way you can port more titles and be more productive.
I wish it were that simple. Unfortunately one generally only gets to see how easy, or how difficult, a port will be once the process has already started.
Disciples 2 is probably a worst case example and I really doubt we’ll face a port that’s taken this long or delayed as much as this one ever again.
13. LGP helped a lot to Linux several years ago but now there were discussions that LGP might no longer be relevant that we have more and more games and engines that support Linux : Humble Indie Bundle gave a major push to Linux gaming, Unity4 that now supports Linux is getting many new titles to Linux , Source, Steam, Desura ,more indie games etc…what LGP intends to do to stay relevant ? bringing all it’s old titles to Desura just won’t gonna cut it I’m afraid…
LGP will continue to do what it does best: port games to Linux.
Yes some companies are embracing engines that now support Linux but not all companies will take advantage of that or even want to work on multiple-platforms even if they are making use of these engines.
There will always be games and there will always be games that only have Windows releases.
LGP will continue to find the gems amongst these and port them.
Engines like these would hopefully just make our process simpler and we’ll be able to get titles like these ported faster.
Thanks Clive Crous for this interview.
I wish Michael Simms a fast recovery, he has done a lot for the GNU/Linux Gaming.
If you want to support LGP, buy their games from Linux Game Publishing official website, Tuxgames, Ubuntu Software Ccenter, Desura, Gameolight and other resellers !
Sacred Gold is already released on Ubuntu Software Center !