Blizzard Entertainment, the game studio behind wildly-popular games like World of Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft, is planning for a Linux game announcement in 2013.
This year is already looking fantastic for Linux-based gaming thanks to so many recent announcements and more being just around the cog in the future.rner. Since Valve's major Linux push with their native Steam Linux client and their continued porting of Source Engine games to Linux, many other game studios have stepped up with Linux interest, especially with the Linux-based Steam console coming in the future.
Besides Valve, among the publishers expressing Linux gaming interest have been Egosoft, THQ, Overhaul Games, and many other developers large and small have talked about their Linux plans. To add to the ever-growing list of Linux game milestones is now Blizzard Entertainment.
Blizzard has already been controversial with Linux gamers due to (reportedly accidental) banning of players from their games using Wine to run the Windows titles on Linux, always-online/DRM practices on Windows, and other matters, but it seems the California-based company is finally taking Linux seriously.
It's been a poorly-kept secret that Blizzard has a native Linux client of World of Warcraft. As recently as 2011, the World of Warcraft Linux client was still being maintained internally. The client has been around for years and done by their own developers as a form of testing for the popular MMORPG currently offered on Windows and Mac OS X. As for why they haven't released the client, it's come down to "targeting a specific version of the platform" with Linux being "unstandardized" due to the many different distributions. There's still some fundamental problems with gaming on Linux. With World of Warcraft working generally fine under Wine as well, the company is further unmotivated to officially support a Linux build of the game.
In May of last year when a Blizzard representative was asked about a Diablo III Linux port, it came down to a matter of ensuring there is a commercially-viable Linux gaming market and that the resources can be justified. "I know we actually have a lot of stuff that we... like a lot of our server stuff actually uses Linux, so I don’t think that it would be outrageous, but I think that we’d have to see that there’d be a demand for it. And then we’d have to see that that demand would be worth the time we take away from the other things that we could do."
An Executive Vice President at Blizzard said later in 2012 that they agree with Valve's Gabe Newell that Microsoft Windows 8 is a catastrophe, as I exclusively reported on earlier in the year. Windows 8 isn't great for Blizzard.
With the progress of Linux gaming in recent months, Blizzard now wants to tap Tux. I was out in the Los Angeles area the past few days and for those that didn't understand the hint, there's new Blizzard Linux activities taking place.
From a reliable source at the company, I have been told at least one of their very popular titles will see a release for Ubuntu Linux this calendar year. I was told this in person and was a statement backed up by additional proof. With their first Linux port they will use it to judge the waters of Linux gaming themselves to decide their future course. This port is being done internally by their own developers, which isn't a huge surprise given their past public statements and already existing internal Linux client work.
A public announcement should come out of Blizzard by this summer. So for the usual skeptics and those not fond of my unconventional approaches in writing thousands of articles annually, if you don't want to believe it now, you should see action in the next few months -- just as the far majority of the Phoronix exclusives over the past eight years have been from continued early information about Steam on Linux to reporting in advance that EA's initial Linux play would be garbage to all of the Linux driver/hardware exclusives and other content.