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Does 0 A.D. Signal a New Era in SaaS and Open-Source Gaming?

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Traditionally, the computer gaming market has been among the niches least impacted by the open-source movement. But that could change dramatically if the developers behind the cross-platform, real-time strategy game 0 A.D. succeed in redefining the way games are created, marketed and distributed. Here’s why:

Look around the IT world today and you’ll find dozens of areas in which open-source offerings enjoy substantial shares of markets which, until a few years ago, were the exclusive domains of proprietary products. GPL’d virtualization hypervisors like Xen and KVM now present serious competition for VMware, for example, while Oracle’s OpenOffice — and its anti-Oracle fork, LibreOffice — dig ever deeper into Microsoft Office’s side. The list could go on.

The gaming world, however, constitutes a notable exception to this trend. Sure, there are plenty of open-source games out there, but they tend to be the half-baked offspring of computer-science homework projects or antiquated reiterations of vintage commercial games, like Quake, whose engines were open-sourced once they ceased to be profitable.

At the moment, in other words, virtually no one is making money either selling or supporting open-source games.

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