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04.21.08

Speculation: Is Microsoft Causing Epic’s Unreal Tournament 3 GNU/Linux Client Delays and Forums Censorship?

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, SCO, Wine at 4:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A regular reader, SubSonica, has brought to our attention and grouped together a variety of new stories and speculations that are actively being censored. He shares his understanding of the following Phoronix article, which was published only a few days ago, then adding: “this is the expected effect over Linux of every alleged ‘open’ move by Microsoft.”

See for yourself and judge for yourself. There are no accusations being made here, but merely a circulation of information.

Five months ago from today, Unreal Tournament 3 for the PC was released in North America. Linux gamers around the world, however, were let down with the lack of an available Linux client and all UT3 gamers were impacted by the lack of any Linux server for this game. The UT3 Linux server had finally shipped a month later, but now 152 days since the release a Linux client for this first person shooter is still missing with no sign of it even coming.

[...]

Ryan Gordon recently talked at UCLUG with topics from education to Loki Games and SDL, but he hadn’t mentioned any new details about Unreal Tournament 3. There is a 24-page thread in the Phoronix Forums with talk and speculations surrounding Unreal Tournament 3 for Linux, with some believing the client will never be released — partially due to speculations that Microsoft may acquire Epic Games.

We haven’t heard any official updates in months and quite frankly the UT3 Linux client may never see the light of day. Forum moderators on the Epic Games’ Forums have reportedly been deleting threads from gamers inquiring about the Linux client’s status.

While there are a few new games coming to Linux, it’s certainly an unfortunate situation right now with Epic Games and it will be a blow to the Linux gaming community if the Unreal Tournament 3 Linux client never makes it out the door.

“Notice the recurrent scheme: They plan to acquire Epic (Unreal, Gears Of War) and licence the Unreal Engine,” says our reader, pointing to the following article.

Could Microsoft Acquire Epic Games? GamePro Editor Thinks So

However, Microsoft would be interested in acquiring more than game development in an Epic buy, according to Moses. Epic also licenses its Unreal game engine to developers around the world who produce titles for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and other platforms as well as PCs.

“Epic Games is one of the few highly regarded indie developers … partly for their games but mostly for their Unreal engine technology,” Moses wrote. “Microsoft has lots of cash on hand, and in buying Epic, could collect royalty rights for Unreal technology across other platforms.

Additionally, he adds this pointer:

Microsoft To Buy “Gears of War” Dev Epic Games

[...]

If Microsoft does acquire Epic Games, it would also mean that they would own the rights to the Unreal game engine, which is used on every single platform, including the rival PS3, for developers to use to make next-gen games.

This would basically allow Microsoft to make money off of the Unreal engine rights used to sell games on the PC and PS3.

To put it in the words of SubSonica: “So we see here the future of Microsoft not as software developer but as a IP-rights collecting corporation. I bet they will screw Epic very much as they did with Bungie (Halo), will keep the Unreal engine rights for themselves alone in order to damage Sony (and Linux) if they get to own Epic, there won’t be much longer before they try to sue Sony or any other developer making use of the Unreal engine.”

Regarding Bungie, for those who do not know the story, a few months ago the team left in anger claiming that Microsoft had abused them to just extract big profits.

In general, what you see here might be the typical Microsoft pattern, which sometimes involves the acquire-to-extinguish tactic. It’s a case of buying companies only to harm the competition. Remember XenSource and Yahoo’s role in the fight against Google? There are several more examples just like that. Sometimes it’s just cheaper to behave in this way and vague recollections bring to mind evidence of these tactics in antitrust memos.

“Remember that OpenGL got ignored and circumvented by Microsoft in order to give way for proprietary DirectX penetration.”Bear in mind that UT3 for GNU/Linux was going to be a huge thing and a tipping point because not every day can you find high-end state-of-the-art games that are available for Linux and break the myth about the relationship between Linux and gamers. You don’t need every bleeding-edge game to be ported to GNU/Linux, but a few good titles make all the difference in the world (like Halo for Microsoft’s XBox 360).

Remember that OpenGL got ignored and circumvented by Microsoft in order to give way for proprietary DirectX penetration. This was done for reasons similar to that of Microsoft’s snubbing of OpenDocument format (making development Windows-dependent, annulling cross-platform capabilities). We discussed this before [1, 2, 3, 4] and found evidence even in leaked Microsoft E-mails (antitrust exhibits).

It is worth adding that Novell crossed out — and thus implicitly threatened — Wine in its deal with Microsoft [1, 2, 3]. When the redacted disclosure was emitted last Easter Wine developers were not happy. They were also among the first ones to criticise the deal back in 2006, in quite a bad way as a matter of fact (SCO insinuations). To quote an old article:

A LEAD DEVELOPER on the Open Source Wine project, Tom Wickline, has warned that Microsoft’s deal with Novell is a cunning plan by Vole to take control over the commercial customer’s use of Free Software.

[...]

Wickline reckons that with the SCO case floundering, this is Vole’s latest attempt to make Novell into the next SCO in a bid to sink Linux.

Remember that post from yesterday, which was last updated a few hours ago. To quote further from Matt Asay:

I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments,” [...]

Go back to the beginning of this post and reconsider how Microsoft claims to be after intellectual property. Novell is a big part of this problem because it brings this intellectual monopolies mess into the Free software world, uninvited.

Microvell

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