Desura is a digital distribution platform for the Microsoft Windows, Linux and OS X platforms. The service distributes games and related media online, with a primary focus on small independent game developers rather than larger companies. Desura contains automated game updates, community features, and developer resources. The client allows users to create and distribute game mods as well.
Many independent developers and small companies publish their content on Desura including Frozenbyte, Frictional Games, Introversion Software, Basilisk Games, S2 Games, Linux Game Publishing, RuneSoft, Running With Scissors, Interplay Entertainment, and Double Fine Productions. Desura sells many games that were previously included in Humble Bundle initiatives, as well as numerous other commercial titles. Desura also provides several freeware and free software games.
Originally, the platform was developed by DesuraNET; it was later sold to Linden Lab, and then to Bad Juju Games, which filed for bankruptcy in June 2015. In October 2016, Desura was acquired by Danish company OnePlay, a subscription-based online rental service. Desura's website is currently suspended in transition, pending redevelopment by its new owner.
The Desura client is heavily tied to its website through the use of the Chromium Embedded Framework. Most of its services are provided through its online interface, with the exception of the game launcher, installer, and update features. This means that the Desura interface remains consistent across multiple platforms.
The interface itself offers various selections based on what feature a user may want to access, with installed games being offered through the "Play" tab, games available for download or purchase being offered through the "Games" tab, user interaction and social networking features from the "Community" tab, information and features for game developers through the "Development" tab, and technical support and client settings through the "Support" tab.
Desura does not implement digital rights management, and Desura employees have commented against its use in the past, recommending that content creators ship without DRM or use a CD Key system instead. However, Desura itself is DRM-neutral, and publishers and developers can sell games that require such technologies to be used. Desura makes sure users purchasing these titles are aware of the DRM it ships with and how it works.
Desura competes in the same market as Valve Corporation's Steam platform. However, Scott Reismanis, the founder of DesuraNET, did not consider it a competitor, but rather an attempt to address a different segment of the market.
Desura primarily hosts indie games, which are games by smaller developers who do not have enough popularity or power to negotiate deals with Steam. Desura believes that its tighter links to a dedicated community will foster better relationships between players and developers.
Desura used to be tied to the Mod DB community, as both were run by the same company. Desura therefore highlighted content distribution for mods as one of its features.
Desura was initially developed in secret by DesuraNET for many years. The project was first publicly announced on December 16, 2009. Near its launch, it publicized itself by offering free keys for games to augment the purchases of the same games made through Humble Indie Bundle #2. The Desura Windows client was released to the public on December 18, 2010. On July 10, 2013, Desura was bought by Linden Lab.
Development on a Linux client was announced during the Summer of 2011, utilizing wxWidgets and GTK+ as the toolkit, and was introduced as a limited beta program in the Fall. The client was publicly available for download and execution, but users could not log into the online service unless they were a selected beta tester. On November 16, 2011 the Desura Linux client was publicly released with an initial offering of over 65 games.
Although Desura was not the only game distribution platform available for Linux, predated by several traditional online sellers such as Tux Games, Gameolith and Wupra, as well as many Linux distributions distributing games through their package management systems, Desura was the first and most prominent purely digital Linux game distributor with a dedicated client delivery application. The Ubuntu Software Center began selling commercial software packages just prior to the Linux Desura client release, but was not specialized for games, offering a substantially smaller catalog. However, the account login feature is only available to some testers, as of November the 10th, 2011.
On November 9, 2011 it was announced that Desura would be made partially free software in order to facilitate its further development. The client itself would be released under the GNU General Public License, while the server-side portion of the distribution platform would remain proprietary. The media assets and trademarks would also remain property of DesuraNET. The free software release and development is handled in a manner similar to Google's Chromium project. The free project, named "Desurium", was publicly made available on January 21, 2012.
On July 10, 2013, Linden Lab announced that they had acquired Desura. The service would continue uninterrupted for current customers and the team and technology become a part of Linden Lab. After acquiring Desura, Linden Lab changed their Terms of Service to include the wording that they have future rights to use and adapt content from their virtual citizens. Speculation exists as to whether the acquisition of Desura is tied to this change in the terms.
It was announced on November 5, 2014 that Linden Lab had sold the Desura service to Bad Juju Games. Bad Juju later filed for bankruptcy in June 2015. The Desura service went offline on March 19, 2016, but came back on March 29. Desura went offline again September 2016, and has remained disconnected.
As of October 28, 2016, the desura.com home page shows the following message: "OnePlay has recently bought the Desura and Royale assets from Bad Juju. We are working hard behind the scenes to relaunch your favorite indie gaming platform." The change in ownership news is dated October 21, 2016.