The creators of the Desura digital distribution platform have made a surprise announcement that should help differentiate the software from the pack: it's now available under an open source licence.
Similar to Valve's popular Steam platform, Desura allows users to buy downloadable copies of popular mainstream and independent PC games on both Windows and Linux platforms. In addition, the platform offers a selection of tools and utilities to game developers which enable them to embed Desura-specific functionality in their titles.
First released in 2009 by an Australian games company following a 'stealth' development period of two years, the platform has proven popular enough to be selected alongside Steam as one of the distribution methods for the Humble Bundle selection of independent games; largely, admittedly, thanks to the release of a native Linux client back in November.
Now, however, the Desura team is looking at a different way to improve the platform: open source development.
Forking the code base, the team has now released a clone of the client dubbed Desurium under the GPLv3 open-source licence. The aim, it is claimed, is to allow the community to add new features and address existing issues at a far faster rate than Desura's own developers could ever manage.
Fixes and features that make the grade will be merged back into the main Desura tree, improving the software for everyone across both Windows and Linux platforms.
It's a clever move, but one that doesn't mean you can take the software and launch your own digital distribution outfit: while the client source code is available for download, all art and sound assets remain Desura's property; the code for the server side software, meanwhile, will be staying closed-source.
If you're a coder and fancy a peek at how the client software works, however, the source for Desurium - named in homage to Google's Chrome closed-source and Chromium open-source browser projects - is live on code repository GitHub
Are you pleased to see gaming companies embracing an open source development methodology, or do you think this is the wrong way for Desura to attempt to compete with the mighty Steam? Share your thoughts over in the forums