DRM’d Steam for Linux games is ‘unethical’ Says Richard Stallman

Citing closed nature of Windows platform, Gabe Newell of Valve had announced plans of Steam for Linux with the company having already ported Steam’s source game engine and the popular title Left 4 Dead 2 on the newly built platform.

Historically, Linux has never been a prime platform for commercial game developers for want of larger audience and presence of high fragmentation due to a variety of Linux flavors. But, Valve’s move may just act as the initial spark that might just the gaming wildfire on Linux.

Richard Stallman though is not quite impressed with this development. In his statement, Stallman said that having closed source games on an open platform are “Unethical because they deny freedom to their users.” On a positive note, “if you’re going to use these games, you’re better off using them on GNU/Linux rather than on Microsoft Windows.” said Stallman.

Stallman believes that this particular move by Valve can have both good as well as harmful impacts. On the ‘good’ end of the spectrum is the point where Linux users may start installing games and encourage more and more people to shift from Windows platform to Linux. But, on the ‘bad’ end of the spectrum is the question: what will the Linux community learn from this?

Stallman said, “This development can do both harm and good. It might encourage GNU/Linux users to install these games, and it might encourage users of the games to replace Windows with GNU/Linux,”

“My guess is that the direct good effect will be bigger than the direct harm. But there is also an indirect effect: what does the use of these games teach people in our community?” he added.

Stallman is concerned about availability of commercial games on open platform and that it might distract users from working towards free software movement. “Nonfree software in GNU/Linux distros already works against the goal of freedom. Adding these games to a distro would augment that effect.”