On Aug. 2, 2011, Canonical introduced two new games, BEEP! and Heileen, to the Software Center. They're priced at $9.99 and $19.99, respectively, and are only the latest of a broadening lineup of for-purchase applications that have made their way into the Software Center.
BEEP!, a 2D side-scroller similar to World of Goo, has already received some pretty enthusiastic reviews from Ubuntu users who have proclaimed it a "brilliant little game" and "Great game play with some challenging puzzles."
Heileen, an anime adventure game described in the Software Center (in hopelessly broken English) as detailing the adventures of a "cute 18 years old english girl" who goes traveling in the New World, appears at first glance perhaps a little less appealing (and a bit creepier) than BEEP!. It currently lacks any reviews by Ubuntu users.
Gaming and Channel PartnershipsNo matter how great they are, there's little chance that either of these games, or any of the other ones currently available in the Software Center, will inspire the masses to flock to Ubuntu. Gaming is not at the top of most people's lists of priorities when it comes to choosing an operating system.
But that doesn't mean Canonical's focus on adding games and other applications for purchase in the Software Center is insignificant. From the channel perspective, it could matter a lot, because it represents a novel means of building stronger partnerships with developers -- including those who are unwilling to release their products as open source or give them away for free, and as a result traditionally have had little engagement with the Linux community.
Granted, the developers both of BEEP! (BigFatAlien) and of Heileen (Hanako Games) are small, independent outfits with limited influence. But forging a stronger relationship with them doesn't hurt. It opens up opportunities for future collaboration, helps generate revenue for Canonical and sets an example that larger closed source developers might follow.
Canonical's thinking thus seems clear: No partner is too small, or too focused on proprietary code, to be an asset in building a broader and more integrated ecosystem around Ubuntu Linux.