The Desura Linux client installing the game Dungeons of Dredmor
|Developer(s)||DesuraNET Pty Ltd.|
|Platform||GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows|
||This article appears to be written like an advertisement. (September 2013)|
Desura is a digital distribution platform developed by DesuraNET for Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux and Mac OS X platforms. The service distributes games and related media online, with a primary focus on small independent developers rather than larger software houses. In addition to distribution of games, Desura offers automated game updates, community features, and developer resources. The client also lets create game mods.
Desura was the first distribution platform supporting GNU/Linux with a client and it is distribution agnostic. Desura was also the first to support all three PC platforms of GNU/Linux, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows.
Some of the developers who have games on their service include Frozenbyte, Frictional Games, Introversion Software, Basilisk Games, S2 Games, Linux Game Publishing, RuneSoft, Running with Scissors, Inc., and Interplay Entertainment, as well as Desura selling many games that were previously included in Humble Bundle initiatives, as well as numerous other commercial titles. They also have several different freeware and free software games available through their service.
The Desura client is heavily tied to its website through the use of the Chromium Embedded Framework; most of its services are provided through its online interface, with the exception of the game launcher, installer, and update features. This provides Desura with a consistent interface that does not vary dramatically from system to system.
The interface itself offers various selections based on what feature a user may want to access, with installed games being offered through the "Play" tab, games available for download or purchase being offered through the "Games" tab, user interaction and social networking features from the "Community" tab, information and features for game developers through the "Development" tab, and technical support and client settings through the "Support" tab.
Unlike many of its competitors, Desura does not impose digital rights management, and Desura employees have commented against its use in the past, recommending that content producers ship without DRM or at least use a CD Key system instead. However, Desura itself is DRM agnostic, and publishers and developers may sell games that require such technologies to be used. Desura will make sure users purchasing these titles are aware of the DRM it ships with and how it works.
Comparison with Steam
Desura competes in the same market as Valve Software's Steam platform. However, Scott Reismanis, the founder of DesuraNET does not consider it a competitor, but rather an attempt to address a different segment of the market.
Content hosted on Desura primarily falls into the category of Indie games, which are games by smaller developers who do not have the same amount of name or clout to negotiate deals with Steam. Desura believes its tighter links to a dedicated community will foster better relationships between player and developer.
Desura is also highly tied to the Mod DB community, as both are run by the same company. Desura therefore highlights content distribution for mods as one of its features, although this is not yet available for the Linux client.
The initial development on Desura had been happening in secret by DesuraNET for many years, with the project being first publicly announced on December 16, 2009. Near its launch, it publicized itself by offering free keys for games to augment the purchases of the same games made through Humble Indie Bundle #2. The initial Windows client was finally released to the public on December 18, 2010. On July 10, 2013, Desura was bought by Linden Lab.
Development on a GNU/Linux client was announced during the Summer of 2011, utilizing wxWidgets and GTK+ as the toolkit, and was introduced in a limited beta program in the Fall. The client was publicly available for download and execution, but users could not log into the online service unless they were a selected beta tester. On November 16, 2011 the Desura GNU/Linux client was publicly released with an initial offering of over 65 games.
Although Desura was not the only game distribution platform available for GNU/Linux, with there being several traditional online sellers such as Tux Games, Gameolith and Wupra, as well as many GNU/Linux distributions distributing games through their package management systems, with the Ubuntu Software Center even selling commercial game titles, the release of Desura was heralded by several commentators as an important step to greater acknowledgement of Linux as a gaming platform.
On November 9, 2011 it was announced that Desura would be made partially free software in order to facilitate its further development. The client itself would be released under the GNU General Public License, while the server-side portion of the distribution platform would remain proprietary. The media assets and trademarks would also remain property of DesuraNET. The free software release and development is handled in a manner similar to Google's Chromium project. The free project, named "Desurium", was publicly made available on January 21, 2012.
Acquisition by Linden Lab
Linden Lab, the makers of shared creative spaces including Second Life, Patterns, Creatorverse, Versu, and dio.com, on July 10, 2013 announced that LL has acquired Desura, a digital distribution service for PC gamers. The service will continue uninterrupted for current customers and the team and technology become a part of Linden Lab (more in Open Letter) After acquiring Desura, Linden Lab changed their Terms of Service to include the wording that they have future rights to use, adapt, and effectively steal all content from their virtual citizens. Speculation exists as to whether the acquisition of Desura is tied to this change in TOS.
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