Linux Could Be A Problem For MMO Handheld The JungleS

Panasonic's recently unveiled portable massively multiplayer online gaming platform won't be a success, can't be a success if there are no games to play on it.

And since The Jungle will run Linux that could be a problem. Why?

According to at least one massively mulitplayer online developer, Linux isn't exactly a great system to develop games for or port over Windows or Mac games to.

"The Linux user base is too small for the financial risk, Linux users are generally savvy enough to make their OS run whatever games they want anyway, and since the Linux community is very DIY minded, they tend to not want to pay for much," said Ryan Seabury, creative director at NetDevil for LEGO Universe. "All of these make it a pretty bleak area to publish games into."

Seabury said that while porting a game from Windows or Mac to Linux isn't rocket science, "it's also usually not worth the cost and it's difficult to find talent with the right expertise."

Founded in 1997, NetDevil currently has more than 200 employees working on two announced and one unannounced games for the PC. With all of that PC and online multiplayer experience, Seabury isn't sold on the idea of The Jungle.

"Portable gaming is good, but targeting one specific genre of game is limiting," Seabury said. "If you're going to lug around another piece of hardware besides a phone, ipad and/or laptop, you'd want it to play as many kinds of games as possible."

Other challenges that The Jungle faces includes the still unknown price and the devices interface.

"With the face of mobile gaming heading towards light weight devices and multi-touch user interface, a larger full keyboard clamshell seems a bit out of place," Seabury said. "Having premium content partners would be key for this, because if it's just going to run browser based experiences, smartphones and tablets can provide that already and are much more practical in other functions as well. Linux OS will be an obstacle as well in this regard. And finally, in a market where you can buy pretty high end smartphones for a hundred bucks with a contract, or a decent netbook for a couple hundred, The Jungle would have to be a pretty low price point for such a specialized piece of hardware to gain any traction."

Seabury also notes that creating a usable graphics user interface for deep massively multiplayer online games at normal PC screen resolution is already challenging for developers. Making the screen smaller, he said, only increases that challenge.

While I'm no developer, I can't see myself carting around what looks like a super-sized 1980s pager.