I’m sorry that we’ve given anyone the impression that we are “dropping support for i386 applications”. That’s simply not the case. What we are dropping is updates to the i386 libraries, which will be frozen at the 18.04 LTS versions. But there is every intention to ensure that there is a clear story for how i386 applications (including games) can be run on versions of Ubuntu later than 19.10.
There’s four main problems with this.
First off, there is a pretty decent chunk of Ubuntu’s user base that will never use a snap ever. I know of quite a few users who instantly run
sudo apt remove --autoremove --purge snapd and then
sudo apt-mark hold snapd so that it is removed and never installed again on their installs. These users very much value the testing that Canonical puts into packages in the apt repos and do not want packages that are tested by no one and created by anyone. It is not an acceptable solution for them to be forced to use snaps for 32bit applications.
Secondly, Canonical seems to have failed to mention this anywhere before making the decision other than their mailing lists. No developers seem to have been informed. Steam quite obviously didn’t know about this until the announcement was made, and it would seem as if Steam is not at all willing to accept the snap solution either.
Third, what happens when 18.04 is EOL? This statement just says that you are delaying removing 32bit support entirely until 18.04 is EOL. I’m sorry, but my games that are 32bit are not going to magically become 64bit in that time. They will always be 32bit, and I will always need 32bit libraries to run them. I enjoy playing them, and I don’t see this stopping in the future, so I will have to choose some other distro than Ubuntu to play them on as I personally will not use snaps.
Forth, the staff here seems to pushing that users had the time to make comments on this, and now that time has passed. I’m sorry, but this is the first many of us have ever heard of this happening. I assume you discussed this in your mailing lists previous to announcing it, but that is not at all a public form of discussing things. Only people who are either really, really into Ubuntu or developing Ubuntu are going to be following your mailing lists. That leaves out a huge chunk of your community from giving input on something like this.