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Valve, Apple worked closely to bring Steam to Mac

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
In anticipation of Monday's official announcement regarding Steam for Mac, AppleInsider spoke with John Cook, director of Steam development at Valve, about the process of porting the online gaming system to the Mac, and the role Apple played in its development.

Valve revealed that it would bring its games powered by the Source engine to the Mac, including Half-Life 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Team Fortress 2. Steam users who own games for the PC will be able to download and play the same games available on the Mac for free, and the new "Steam Play" feature will allow gamers on both Windows and Mac OS X to play online, with or against each other, regardless of their system.

Cook divulged further details on the forthcoming release of Steam for Mac in the Q&A, which follows in its entirety:

Can you share anything regarding timeframe for release, pricing of games, or performance requirements?

Cook: The Steam client and native implementations of our games will ship in April. We expect a number of third parties will release their games at the same time. Each game will have its own performance requirements in terms of CPUs, memory, and graphics and we expect they will be comparable to running on Windows. The Steam client itself is very lightweight.

The first game from Valve that will ship simultaneously on the Mac will be Portal 2 this holiday season. Our future games will ship simultaneously on the Mac.

Will existing Steam users have to re-purchase games for the Mac if they already own them for PC?

Cook: We are using a featured called "Steam Play" which will allow Mac gamers to play against PC gamers and -- for our games and any of our partners who are interested in using the feature -- be able to obtain any game they purchase on either system without the need to purchase two copies. So, for example, if you already own Left 4 Dead 2 on the PC you won't need to purchase it again for the Mac.

Have you been working with Apple, or received any help from them?

Cook: Yes, we've been working with them a bunch as we get more acquainted with their platform. They've been a great partner so far and we look forward to growing our relationship with them over time.



What prompted the decision to support the Mac after Valve has for years been outspoken about its frustration with Apple?

Cook: As an industry we are going through a transition of entertainment as a product to entertainment as a service. This places a bunch of requirements on the platforms - specifically being an open, high-quality Internet client. The recent announcement of Portal 2 that was done in cooperation with the Steam community is a good example of that. The Mac is a very attractive platform for entertainment as a service.

Any projections on what percentage of sales the Mac could represent?

Cook: OVER 1 MILLION DOLLARS! Our projections for Steam sales on the PC were horribly wrong. So, we'll just work diligently, skip the predictions (and embarrassment of guessing incorrectly), and see what happens. One thing for certain is that the Mac market will be a lot less of a mystery to the game industry as we add Mac hardware statistics to our ongoing hardware survey (store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/).

What do you think of Apple's choice of graphics hardware? How well does the company keep up with the latest graphics technology for games?

Cook: As we have extended Source, our game engine, to support OpenGL, we have been working with Apple and the GPU suppliers to make sure we take full advantage of their capabilities. We have also been giving them feedback on opportunities to extend OpenGL to better support our games as well as the third party games that will be coming. The hardware itself is very familiar to us. Obviously gamers and game developers want the absolute fastest graphics hardware and CPUs, which is why game machines have the highest ASP of any category.

Have the iPad or iPhone played any role in your decision to embrace the Mac? Any plans to release titles for those platforms?

Cook: Right now we're focused on the Mac desktop and notebook platforms.

For more, see AppleInsider's additional coverage:

Magazine confirms Steam gaming platform coming to Mac in May
Valve launches teaser campaign for new Mac version of Steam
Valve's Steam gaming system may be headed to the Mac

post #2 of 39
So it sounds like this isn't just some WINE-ish port -- it sounds like they really did do a native Mac port. That's encouraging!
post #3 of 39
I'll be on it as soon as it's released. I'm surprised they did a full port.

P.S.: Seriously AI, can you please fix the linking for the iDevice optimized site? I'm getting tired of clicking on one story and going to another. This has been going on for a long time.
post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

So it sounds like this isn't just some WINE-ish port -- it sounds like they really did do a native Mac port. That's encouraging!

It definitely is _not_ a WINE-like port. It's a rewrite of the Source engine with OpenGL as a rasterisator instead of Direct 3D. Great news!
post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cbswe View Post

It definitely is _not_ a WINE-like port. It's a rewrite of the Source engine with OpenGL as a rasterisator instead of Direct 3D. Great news!

Does the PS3 also use OpenGL? With Mac and PS3 sales both being much better than they used to be, I wonder if more developers might choose to do OpenGL versions of games....
post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

Does the PS3 also use OpenGL? With Mac and PS3 sales both being much better than they used to be, I wonder if more developers might choose to do OpenGL versions of games....

I think I read somewhere that nobody actually knows what rasterisator PS3 uses. It probably wouldn't be OpenGL.. Though I'm sure PS3 supports it..
post #7 of 39
Steampad. IT's coming to an iPad near you. Well, some games would work nicely.
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post #8 of 39
Is it really necessary to post 5 Valve stories a day?
post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

Does the PS3 also use OpenGL? With Mac and PS3 sales both being much better than they used to be, I wonder if more developers might choose to do OpenGL versions of games....

Yes, the PS3 uses OpenGL.
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Is it really necessary to post 5 Valve stories a day?

Yes. Yes it is.



w00master
post #11 of 39
I wonder if this is why Apple has been adding more OpenGL support to Snow Leopard 10.6.3. If they've been working with Apple, then perhaps Apple is REALLY getting serious about marketing Macs as gaming machines as well. This would further close the gap between Macs and PCs. Why would someone buy a copy of Windows now if the Mac can handle most of the games now? This could be bad for Microsoft because more and more people are going to be able to switch to Apple.
post #12 of 39
I agree, a lack of gaming on the Mac is one of the Windows enthusiasts strongest arguments against Apple.

It's significant as it shows a breaking of reliance on DirectX which allowed Microsoft the advantage of developer lock-in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by w00master View Post

Yes. Yes it is.



w00master
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post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Yes, the PS3 uses OpenGL.

As far as I know, the PS3 supports a version of OpenGL ES, but it's not the API most of its games are programmed to.
post #14 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by thespaz View Post

I wonder if this is why Apple has been adding more OpenGL support to Snow Leopard 10.6.3. If they've been working with Apple, then perhaps Apple is REALLY getting serious about marketing Macs as gaming machines as well. This would further close the gap between Macs and PCs. Why would someone buy a copy of Windows now if the Mac can handle most of the games now? This could be bad for Microsoft because more and more people are going to be able to switch to Apple.

I doubt that this type of thing is going to drive any switching to mac. PC gamers still value being able to get a cheap box that can handle the latest games. It will allow people who bought a mac for other reasons to also play some of the best games without having to maintain a separate windows box.
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

I agree, a lack of gaming on the Mac is one of the Windows enthusiasts strongest arguments against Apple.

It's significant as it shows a breaking of reliance on DirectX which allowed Microsoft the advantage of developer lock-in.

It's also one of the Mac enthusiasts' strongest arguments against Apple.

C
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post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdyates View Post

I doubt that this type of thing is going to drive any switching to mac. PC gamers still value being able to get a cheap box that can handle the latest games. It will allow people who bought a mac for other reasons to also play some of the best games without having to maintain a separate windows box.

Or having to boot into windows.

C
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post #17 of 39
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Originally Posted by Celemourn View Post

It's also one of the Mac enthusiasts' strongest arguments against Apple.

C

well said.
post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celemourn View Post

Or having to boot into windows.

C

Yep. I shoulda mentioned that ;-)
post #19 of 39
It's going to be interting to see how the Macs with their lower performance GPUs running OpenGL will compare with higher performance PC GPUs running DirectX. My feeling is quite well. This is based on my experience running WoW on both PCs and Macs. A 24" iMac with the "upgraded" 7600GT GPU was happy to run at 1920x1200 with all eye-candy on. My daughter's PCs with a 7600GT struggled to run at 1440x900 with most eye candy turned on. My daughter would abandon her PC and use the Mac any time she was involved in raiding.

I also have a 24" iMac with the ATI 2600 low end GPU in it. It plays WoW acceptably with low eye candy settings.

My feeling is that Apple's OpenGL drivers take advantage of multicore CPUs as well as the GPU when rendering whereas DirectX doesn't.
post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jadams View Post

It's going to be interting to see how the Macs with their lower performance GPUs running OpenGL will compare with higher performance PC GPUs running DirectX. My feeling is quite well. This is based on my experience running WoW on both PCs and Macs. A 24" iMac with the "upgraded" 7600GT GPU was happy to run at 1920x1200 with all eye-candy on. My daughter's PCs with a 7600GT struggled to run at 1440x900 with most eye candy turned on. My daughter would abandon her PC and use the Mac any time she was involved in raiding.

I also have a 24" iMac with the ATI 2600 low end GPU in it. It plays WoW acceptably with low eye candy settings.

My feeling is that Apple's OpenGL drivers take advantage of multicore CPUs as well as the GPU when rendering whereas DirectX doesn't.

DirectX is definitely capable of taking advantage of multi-core cpu and gpu's.
post #21 of 39
So, Steam blows, it's like malware, it starts up unbidden, tries to phone home, drives me nuts, etc., etc.;

BUT.....

You can play the PC games you bought on Steam on the Mac without having to re-purchase them?!!!!! That is awesome!!

This is a beautiful thing, and something that every game developer should do. Many of us have a Mac with Boot Camp, and possibly a game PC as well; it's great to be able to play a game without rebooting your Mac (or using another machine), but the prospect of re-purchasing a game years later at full price just to play it on the Mac is ... unappealing to say the least.

Congrats to Valve for doing the right thing for people who've already purchased the PC version of the game!

An a native OpenGL port of their main game engine vs. using a Cider-like DirectX compatibility layer is likely to yield performance that is comparable to the Windows versions running via Boot Camp - also a very good thing!

I also note that Telltale games has a similar deal - if you buy Monkey Island on-line, you get both the Mac and PC versions. And their game engine has been ported to the Mac, so they say that future games may see simultaneous release, and they are in the process of updating their back catalog, at which point you can download the Mac versions if you already bought the PC versions.

Now if EA/BioWare would just let me download the Mac version of Dragon Age without purchasing it again (third time, really, since I already have the PC and PS3 versions), my life would be complete.
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Congrats to Valve for doing the right thing for people who've already purchased the PC version of the game!

Perhaps they realised that as people migrate from PCs to Macs, many of them are giving up on gaming altogether. To many people, like me, booting into Windows to play games is an annoying burden and something I eventually stopped doing. By allowing us to download games we already own for free (but on another platform), they're basically ensuring converts can continue to game (and buy new games $$$) when they otherwise might have stopped, and to allow those of us who already had stopped to start again.

This means, in the longer term, more money in their pockets.
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by str1f3 View Post

P.S.: Seriously AI, can you please fix the linking for the iDevice optimized site? I'm getting tired of clicking on one story and going to another. This has been going on for a long time.

For real. Sometimes I just give up. Oh and the AI web page toolbar totally SUCKS. It always gets in the way and half the time shows up when you don't want it to. Get rid of it, it's awful.
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Yes, the PS3 uses OpenGL.

Maybe it is possible to use opengl. But no one is using it on the PS3.
post #25 of 39
I thought I read somewhere that the PS3 primarily used something similar to OpenGL, i.e. Sony's own bastardized branched-off version of it.

Anyway, this is glorious news, and as much as the needle on my BS-O-Meter is ticking upwards at the mention of Apple being co-operative with a game company (beyond throwing a copy of Xcode in their general direction and saying "go nuts"), I'm finding it hard to control this little spark of hope it's lit inside me.
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by blecch View Post

So, Steam blows, it's like malware, it starts up unbidden, tries to phone home, drives me nuts, etc., etc.;

Just turn off the option to start on boot up.

As to calling home, that is the entire purpose of Steam that lets you avoid having to keep a disk in the drive. It's a fair trade off for most purposes. As DRM goes, it's not hugely intrusive.
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post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by blecch View Post

So, Steam blows, it's like malware, it starts up unbidden, tries to phone home, drives me nuts, etc., etc.;

lol of course it tries to "phone home" it's connecting to the steam servers to gather your account info and such.

I do agree, it does feel a little odd at times because it doesn't show up right away and some of the startup screens have a cancel button that are completely unresponsive, but i wouldn't go far as to say it's like malware
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Is it really necessary to post 5 Valve stories a day?

I'm not even a big gamer. and I think this is only a very close second to the biggest Apple-related news of the year. I WANT 5 Valve stories a day, if they're as good as this one!
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post #29 of 39
Oh my gawd...I get to play my current Valve games for FREE!! I was ready to buy all my Steam Valve games again!!

Good to hear Apple is finally getting smart about gaming and worked closely with Valve.
post #30 of 39
I can't wait to see the reviews on how these games run on the lowest macbook/macbook pro.

Games and BluRay were the two things holding me back from buying a macbook. If the games portion was solved, that might be enough of a critical mass...

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post #31 of 39
I'd expect the games can work on a MacBook, but I'd say they'd have to be fairly low resolution.

One thing that bothers me about mac gaming is that they don't let you command+tab while playing.
post #32 of 39
I'm really pleased about the fact that you can play Mac versions of Steam games you already own. That means I might be able to finally finish Half Life 2 after all these years, assuming my '06 iMac will run it.

I agree with other posters, this is really big news. The Source engine sounds like a fantastic tech that will hopefully encourage more Mac games.
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post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by thespaz View Post

Now if EA/BioWare would just let me download the Mac version of Dragon Age without purchasing it again (third time, really, since I already have the PC and PS3 versions), my life would be complete.

That depends who has the publishing rights. With Most mac ports, the original publishers/developers sell the rights to a third party who develops and publishes the Mac version.
post #34 of 39
But will it run on my Cube????
post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by pondosinatra View Post

But will it run on my Cube????

If I were a betting man, I'd say no. I would imagine the support will be for intel based Mac's only.
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post #36 of 39
I certainly not what anyone would consider a gamer! Even by even in the most liberal sense of the word. So I make zero clams on the industry and its workings.

That being said, am I the only one thinking that this move to OpenGL isn't solely for Mac users but for the someday when Googles Chrome OS starts making advances (if and when that day ever comes) then they'd be much better off having their stuff up and running on OpenGL instead of just Microsoft developed technologies?
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post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post

I certainly not what anyone would consider a gamer! Even by even in the most liberal sense of the word. So I make zero clams on the industry and its workings.

That being said, am I the only one thinking that this move to OpenGL isn't solely for Mac users but for the someday when Googles Chrome OS starts making advances (if and when that day ever comes) then they'd be much better off having their stuff up and running on OpenGL instead of just Microsoft developed technologies?

Yes the move to port these to OpenGL potentially make the possibility of some of these being ported to Linux based OS's a bit easier. There's a lot of work to get from A to B. This might make porting some of these easier from a Wine perspective.

I don't think they would go so far as to put out a Steam client for Linux. The vast mess that is Linux would be a huge undertaking from a support perspective, simply because all of the Linux variants are such a huge moving target. What distributions would they target? Why Chrome? Why not some other distro? What sound engine? What window manager? You get the idea. There are just too many what-if's when it comes to Linux.
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post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by eAi View Post

I'd expect the games can work on a MacBook, but I'd say they'd have to be fairly low resolution.

One thing that bothers me about mac gaming is that they don't let you command+tab while playing.

I play World of Warcraft on my unibody MacBook Pro 13" with a 9400m. I have the settings usually set to default and I get 40-60 frames or more. Even if i crank it up to Ultra settings, which are only supposed to be used on the highest-end gaming rigs, it is still playable around 17-25 frames. I know WoW isn't supposed to be the most demanding game, but it still requires decent hardware to run all of the latest expansions well.

Oh, and you can command-tab out of it. I just had to check "windowed-mode" and fullscreen that from the settings of the game.

I'm very much looking forward to Steam. I never used it on a PC, but i know a lot of people that have in the past and made a switch to Mac. One of the biggest drawbacks of gaming on a Mac (besides maybe having to install Windows) was having to buy the games again at full price. It's hard to argue Mac vs. PC gaming to your friends when you can buy Knights of the Old Republic for about $10 on PC or around $50 on the Mac.

There are a lot of people that would love to own a Mac for many of the benefits they offer (no viruses, reliable hardware, A+ customer service, attractive, fast, and user-friendly OS, etc.) but stay PC strictly for games. This is the first step for Apple and game developers to reach out to a market that may be interested in Macs for all of their benefits, but also want to game.
post #39 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Is it really necessary to post 5 Valve stories a day?

Like others have said...

YES!!
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