Steam coming to the Mac

So steam is apparently coming out with a Mac version and valve is releasing Portal 2 for the Mac simultaneously with the PC version.

Macs have only a 5% market share, but in a market as large as the PC market that’s still a lot of machines. Now I personally don’t care for Macs, and you’ll see me post on threads that vex me with silly, unsupported notions about Macs such as claims to their superiority in both security and video/art design. Nonsense. They are however, great machines running in a much more secluded and controlled hardware/software space and presenting only a 5% target “surface” to hackers and malware. This provides a lot of benefits and some drawbacks to be sure.

Regardless of how I personally feel about the platform, this is good news for PC gaming. I really don’t see a bad side to this. We welcome into the fold the Mac crowd, add new gamers to the steam roster, and make the PC platform even more attractive to game developers.

The question I have is just how attractive will a Mac be as a gaming platform? Does anyone know what the difficulties are in porting a game to it? Doe OSX support the DirectX API’s?

And to Mac users: Are you looking forward to this? Will you be giving up Bootcamp now? Do you care about gaming at all on your Mac systems?

Nitpick: That’s the share of new computer sales that are Macs, but the relevant number for a game company is the installed base, which is nearly 10%. The difference is because Mac users, on average, go longer between buying new machines. The share is probably even larger (though still significantly less than Microsoft, of course) if you just look at home computers, which is where most gaming is done, since most offices buy PCs.

That said, back to the question: Hell, yeah, I’m looking forward to this. I do care some about gaming, but my favorite games are mostly Blizzard titles, which are available cross-platform, so it hasn’t been all that big a deal. Portal is the one and only game that I regret not being available on Mac, so I’m very excited to see it arriving. Of course, this might not do good things for my thesis progress…

I’m personally greatly looking forward to it. I love my mac, I think OS X is far better than windows has been in years, though Win7 copies a lot of what makes the OS X GUI so nice. Now they just need to do away with the registry.

I run bootcamp (and win7) so I can play my old PC games like System Shock 2, Deus Ex, Arcanum, NWN, etc. So unless they port all those over (which is highly doubtful) I doubt i’ll be giving up bootcamp.

As for architecture, macs have been running intel chips for the past several years, so I don’t see it as a huge hurdle (I dunno about Direct X support, I don7t think OS X has it but I really don’t know). I think the big hurdle is, quite simply, that macs don’t have the GPU availability that PCs have.

I’m looking forward to it, and am glad they are doing it. That said, I strongly prefer console gaming to PC gaming, so I don’t expect my gaming habits to change all that much. That said, I’ll undoubtedly install steam and buy a few games to play on my iMac. I already play things like Civ on it that don’t translate well to the console.

God yes. This is a Genuine issue with Windows. Why for the registry? All the stupid thing is good for is fragmenting/corrupting/becoming sluggish and large. Stupid thing.

Well Mac gamers don’t forget to join the SDMB steam group when Mac steam goes live. I look forward to kicking your a… gaming with you :slight_smile:

Hate Steam, hate Steam, hate Steam hate Steam. Why do I need this peice of shit to play a game I bought on DVD? Hate it hate hate hate hate hate.

Portal by itself shouldn’t get you in trouble, it’s rather short (but great!)

No DirectX, but the Mac has OpenGL at it’s heart, so with a decently factored app, it’s pretty easy to port. (Direct3D and OpenGL use opposite-handed 3D coordinate systems by default, but that’s just another matrix multiply to convert). You’ll get about the same level of hardware support, plus you have the big advantage of a known set of cards and drivers that are always up to date.

There are comparable API’s for sound and control handling, too, but those are usually simpler to port, anyway.

It wont be any different than it is today, I bet. Publishers will just see Steam as another retailer. I doubt there will be more ports because of Steam.

Cost in porting over a DirectX based game is high. OpenGL games arent that bad. My understanding of the gaming industry is that opengl has been floundering for years under poor leadership and even people like Carmack might be making the move to Directx, or at least says positive things about it. Directx also has libraries for networking, sound, controls, etc. Its just not graphics like opengl.

Regardless, with the low marketshare its not going to be anymore feasible to do ports of non-huge games. Steam wont change that.

The registry is a centralized database for configuration. Its not perfect but it, arguably, makes more sense than randomly placed ini files everywhere. I also find that people who blame “the registry” for their performance issues are barking up the wrong tree. You should never need to run “registry cleaners” or “boosters.” Typically the problem lies elsewhere, but at that point you may have created a self-fulfilling prophecy as third-party tools mucking with your registry is a recipe for disaster.

Ok, here be some lucky Doper’s big chance to deal Ignorance a crippling blow! Take THAT Ignorance!! What!! (macho flex pose).

Yeah, I’m a bit lost here. I have a Mac, and apparently something good is happening with it that involves gaming.

So now I’m… happy?

Could someone please fill me in as to what exactly is happening here? I’ve heard of Steam but always in conjunction with PC, (a habit I kicked many years ago along with hard drugs, self mutilation, and needless trips to the dentist for recreational root canals) so I never paid it much attention. I believe it’s some sort of database from where I could download games instead of having to buy them. Is that pretty much it? But then why do folks like RickJay hate it so much? Do you now need it to play games you physically buy from the store? That doesn’t sound nice.

Also, does the fact that it’s now available for the Mac mean that there will be actual games available for Macs as well, or is this just another opportunity for the PC people to rub our noses in their gaming superiority?

I’m not much of a computer gamer, though I was wholly addicted to my 360 before I started traveling. Since there’s a fucklot of zero decent games available for the Mac, I had resigned myself to the fact that it just wasn’t the right time to get back into that world. Might this be a change in the winds? I’d love the opportunity to get cool games like Fallout 3, Bioshock 2 and the like without having to breakdown and buy Win7 (refuse, refuse, refuse to drop $200 to soil my beautiful Mac with ::shudder:: Windows.). Is this the call of that opportunity?

Yes, I know I should now be researching all things Steam, but you guys are much more fun. Also, I’m not a tech-y guy so all this talk of porting and DirectX Api and OpenGL makes my brain go bubbledy.

But why do we need a registry at all? I don’t understand it’s purpose. What function does it serve? Why do programs have to register anything at all with it?This is a major sidetrack though, maybe I’ll ask in a GQ thread.

Steam is a distribution system for games. Some of the games available through Steam are available elsewhere (I understand they’ve got a pretty good library of retro games), and some (such as Portal) are not. Steam being available for Mac does not mean that all of the games on it will work, but at least some of them would have to, or there wouldn’t be any point. In particular, it’s specifically known that Portal 2, when it comes out, will be available on Mac.

Portal 2 will be Valve’s first new release on all three of PC, Xbox, and Mac on day 1, but it’s not the only game Valve announced a Mac version for. Left4Dead, Left4Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Counterstrike, Portal, and the Half-Life series will also be available, according to Kotaku. Further, all future Valve releases will get simultaneous releases on PC, Mac, and Xbox 360.

Pretty big announcement for us gamers who prefer Macs, especially if other developers follow suit.

Will any of those games run on a MacBook without an NVIDIA card? I have a circa 2008 MacBook with a 2.4 GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo but pretty sure no NVIDIA card, just the standard one Macs put in non-Pro models.

I think your MacBook came by default with a Nvidia GeForce 9400M.

You can check for sure by clicking the Apple->About This Mac->More Info->Graphics/Displays.

Some games will play fine, others will run but won’t be anything I would call enjoyable.

Here are some benchmarks:

Nope, I checked and it’s an Intel GMA X3100 which that Notebook check site pretty much says sucks/is erratic for games.

Bummer. Well, now if you get to the point where you’re itching for a new Mac, you’ve got an excuse.

What kind of expectations should Mac users have WRT gaming? I often hear that games are one of the achilles heels of owning such a computer, but IDK much about them having never owned one and having been always pretty happy with my PC’s.

If the Macs have a reputation for being a superior graphics/art platform, doesn’t that imply superior graphics rendering?

Finally, if Macs are so great, why has it taken a company like Steam so long to provide support for games they can run? Simple market share (or lack thereof) demographics?

Can Macs run graphics-intensive games just as flawlessly as gaming PC’s?

And isn’t a Mac a PC anyway? Why the distinction? PC stands for personal computer, right? Isn’t a Mac technically a PC?

The main issue appears to be the graphics/audio API, that is, DirectX. It’s what’s used to write games for windows and the Xbox. Apparently, changing this to open GL is not trivial. I think it’s within the scope of big publishers like Valve and Activision/Blizzard, but not smaller studios, I don’t think. Though smaller studios might target the Mac instead of the PC (again, I don’t think so, given the smaller market share, but who knows?).

That reputation is based on ignorance. there’s nothing real about it. Now a days, Macs use the same hardware that PC’s use, and it is NOT any more efficient at using it. So no superior rendering. In fact, the availability of high end graphics solutions for the Mac is another problem.

Market share sounds about right.

If they have the graphics/CPU muscle, sure. At least to within the capabilities of the OpenGL API. Which is open source, but lags behind Microsoft DX in terms of features.

Yes, a Mac is a PC, but people will assume you’re talking about hardware running windows when you say PC, and hardware (wrapped up in a pretty case) running OSX if you say Mac.