Valve's Steam gaming system may be headed to the Mac

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Users have discovered Mac OS X specific files hidden in the latest version of Valve Software's Steam distribution engine and multiplayer platform for gaming, indicating a Mac port may be around the corner.



Earlier this week, Steam's discussion boards lit up after users found graphics and menu item resources (below) in its latest update which were apparently designed for Mac OS X.



Steam is currently Windows-only, but it represents a variety of third party software publishers that support Mac versions of their games, including EA, id Software, PopCap, and Take-Two Interactive.



Valve, Steam's developer, also creates its own first party games including the popular Half-Life 2, but has not yet ported its own games to the Mac.







Apple's weak Mac gaming strategy



Back in 2007, Steam's co-founder Gabe Newell detailed his company's interest in working with Apple to support the Mac, but pulled no punches in criticizing Apple for not following through with the kind of support game developers needed.



"We have this pattern with Apple," Newell said in an interview, "where we meet with them, people there go 'wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming. And then we'll say, 'OK, here are three things you could do to make that better,' and then they say OK, and then we never see them again.



"And then a year later, a new group of people show up, who apparently have no idea that the last group of people were there, and never follow through on anything. So, they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there's never any follow through on any of the things they say they're going to do."



Apple's stance on gaming for the Mac platform hasn't changed dramatically since then, with most attention being directed to the delivery of Windows games for Intel Macs using TransGaming's Cider engine. However, with the iPhone and iPod touch, Apple has created a new mobile platform that has attracted lots of native development from leading game developers.



The iPod/iPhone halo has also helped the company to dramatically ramp up sales of Mac systems. Combined with the Cider engine (which enables game developers to release their existing Windows code in a way that works on Intel Macs), this makes targeting the Mac platform increasingly attractive for PC game developers even without extensive support for native development from Apple.



Introducing Steam



Steam works similar to Apple's iPhone App Store within iTunes, providing a market for PC video game titles and a mechanism for automatically delivering the latest software updates to players.



Additionally, Steam also presents community features including user profiles and both private and group in-game chat services. It also delivers a multiplayer gaming environment that polices the use of cheats to keep players all on an equal footing.



Valve's latest software update for Steam introduced a new user interface (below) and dropped Microsoft's Trident rendering engine from Internet Explorer in preference for the open source WebKit engine Apple uses.



John Cook, the Director of Steam Development at Valve said this move "gives us a bunch of size, stability and performance benefits. This release of Steam leaves us well prepared for another year of strong growth."



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    That would be awesome, to be able to log in to my Steam Account and start downloading my games which have been unused for quite some time.
  • Reply 2 of 54
    Absolutely zero chance of this, or reason for Valve to do it. Next article, please.
  • Reply 3 of 54
    Great. That's all I need. It was a natural check and balance for me to have to Bootcamp it to Windows to play my games. Productivity will drop to zero if I can hit them while in Mac mode.



    Must. Be. Disciplined.
  • Reply 4 of 54
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,607member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shunnabunich View Post


    Absolutely zero chance of this, or reason for Valve to do it. Next article, please.



    Sheesh. Talk about Debbie Downer. They'd never use you to talk someone down off a ledge.



    Although I mainly game on my PS3, this could get me to use my MBP for gaming as well.
  • Reply 5 of 54
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,311member
    It can only mean one thing: Steam for iPad
  • Reply 6 of 54
    Yessir, the times.... They are a-changin'.
  • Reply 7 of 54
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shunnabunich View Post


    Absolutely zero chance of this, or reason for Valve to do it. Next article, please.



    Wrong. It's been discussed on Inside Mac Games for a month now and has been confirmed by a variety of sources, including Tuncer Deniz, the guy who runs IMG, in his discussion with the folks at Valve. Here's a brief recap of what's been said ...



    A month ago Valve acknowledged to numerous media outlets they were looking for senior Linux and Mac engineers. The same timeframe, Tuncer confirmed with Valve that they were indeed bringing Steam to OSX and porting a number of titles as well. Steam employees have also confirmed this on the forums as well.



    Steam is a distribution platform, nothing more. Some of the developers on Steam, especially the indie ones like PopCap, 2D Boy, etc already make OSX versions of their games and would love another outlet to sell product. And many of Steam's best-known titles like Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2, Left 4 Dead already run well under CrossOver. I imagine a number of titles added to the ranks of Mac gaming (Ciderized, perhaps, and a few years out of date) but Valve's distribution network has nothing to lose at all by adding OSX titles to their staple.



    OSX, Linux or Windows, a cut of a game's price is still a cut of a game's price to Valve. They're the iTunes of digital game distribution.
  • Reply 8 of 54
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,885member
    Not the first and probably not the last game delivery app for the Mac. Having the platform would be nice, but without more game porting or dual development it's just another way to get hold of the crappy Ciderfied EA catalogue, which holds no interest for me.



    I can't see that much has happened to change Valve's opinion of developing their own catalogue for the Mac, though the expanded Open GL 3.0 support that should be in 10.6.3 may help. I suppose that having a widely deployed delivery platform like Steam may encourage more development for the Mac, but I don't see it being a game changer.
  • Reply 9 of 54
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post


    It can only mean one thing: Steam for iPad



    no interpreted code
  • Reply 10 of 54
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    with boot camp and the DirectX WIndows game API being better supported i don't see the point of buying a Mac port of a game
  • Reply 11 of 54
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    All I want is the new AvP on OS X!



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    with boot camp and the DirectX WIndows game API being better supported i don't see the point of buying a Mac port of a game



    Because rebooting every time you play a game (and buying, installing, securing, maintaining, and wasting disk space on Windows) is not fun. It’s a great option to have if you don’t mind those things, but there’s a good reason why I and many others aren not interested.



    I want to be able to play a game by clicking the icon, leaving all my work, my email, my browser, etc. running (and most importantly my scheduled DVR!) so I can get back to them when I quit the game. Not have to re-launch all my apps, re-open all my docs, and waste time. And then, when I’m looking up mods/hints/updates/discussion, I want MY bookmarks, my tools, my filespace, not a separate set in a separate OS. Ditto for emailing/IMing to set up a game. Gaming isn’t always one app in isolation, it’s a part of your life. That’s how I like it.



    And I could not live without ControllerMate on OS X, for customizing game controllers. Visual USB driver programming! The custom stuff you can make a mouse (or joystick, etc.) do with it is amazing. My Quake Wars setup relies on it.



    That’s one thing people like about consoles: you can game when you want to without hassle. Games should be fun. If I had to reboot I would still game... but I would game LESS.
  • Reply 12 of 54
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,607member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    with boot camp and the DirectX WIndows game API being better supported i don't see the point of buying a Mac port of a game



    1) Not having to purchase a full Windows license.

    2) Not having to reboot your machine just to play a game.

    3) Steam usually has nice bundle deals on games.
  • Reply 13 of 54
    kpluckkpluck Posts: 500member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shunnabunich View Post


    Absolutely zero chance of this, or reason for Valve to do it. Next article, please.



    LOL. There are plenty of reason's for Valve to do this, they are called dollars.



    Casual games are huge money makers and there are plenty for OS X that could be delivered by Steam. I am not saying I believe they will or will not do this, but a business case could be easily made for bringing Steam to OS X.



    However, the biggest problem I see for games on OS X is the crappy GPU options on Apple's consumer desktop products. The top of the line iMac only has 4850 512MB GPU for its top choice. That is pathetically bad for a display with the iMac's native resolution. More importantly, you can't even get that card with the less expensive machines.



    For casual games, GPU selection will not be a problem. Other than that, I just don't see any indication that Apple cares about the gaming market for OS X.
  • Reply 14 of 54
    I wonder if Steam for Mac will come complete with the same annoying copy protection that plagues the Windows version.



    Can't I just play my game without having to log in to a service that tracks my usage?
  • Reply 15 of 54
    cubertcubert Posts: 728member
    So, I'm cornfused. Is Steam a development environment or a piece of software that you download so you can play certain games?
  • Reply 16 of 54
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shunnabunich View Post


    Absolutely zero chance of this, or reason for Valve to do it. Next article, please.



    A lot more Macs then there used to be. Plus there's this whole intel thing, a much better OGL implementation in snow leopard (which should be either better in 10.6.3) and cider which makes the process a whole lot easier.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djames42 View Post


    I wonder if Steam for Mac will come complete with the same annoying copy protection that plagues the Windows version.



    Can't I just play my game without having to log in to a service that tracks my usage?



    As digital distribution becomes the form, so will DRM for software whether it be fairplay in a future Mac app store or some other type.
  • Reply 17 of 54
    well, this would be good news if it actually means more games for mac's and associated devices which are REAL games.



    not the crappy iphone app stuff. but real games. that said i understand why they think apple has dropped the ball on game development. they have.



    that said, if they supported Steam and getting more games on the mac, more people would buy macs. so they really have alot to gain.



    if this becomes reality, and maybe Cider is more affordable for developers. Steam makes it cheaper to distribute games and be less reliant on physical stores. which is helpful when they need to run promotions and keep pricing low. all of this could help drive volume in sales or mac playing. yay.
  • Reply 18 of 54
    I'd like to point out that the OS X specific files and references are about as hidden as the full moon on a cloudless night.



    Valve made absolutely no attempt to hide them and probably mistakenly left them in when releasing the build.
  • Reply 19 of 54
    OK, I realize I sounded very much like a troll in my previous post, but none of the opposing arguments so far have convinced me otherwise. Rewriting the Steam client for OS X isn't a trivial task (although I'm sure it's nothing like trying to port a game), and they'd be doing it for a handful of existing casual games, essentially providing a place to keep them in a list (which I already do with a stack on my Dock) and keep track of how many hours you've spent on each (which, admittedly, stacks don't do).



    I've played Ciderized games, and they're such pale, quivering shadows of their former Windows selves that I'm tempted to say they simply don't count at all. Plus, we can't delude ourselves into thinking that any DirectX-based games would be given any more effort than a quick Cider wrap and boot out the door. It's all that's been happening in Mac gaming since the Intel transition, with the exception of developers like Blizzard and Id who were already developing games cross-platform from the ground up.



    OpenGL is a graphics library, which only addresses one portion of what DirectX addresses ? and from the anecdotal evidence I've seen around the web, DirectX is apparently easier, or more pleasant or something, to program for than OpenGL. The fact that a newer iteration of OGL is being adopted now doesn't change that. The amount of effort needed to rewrite a DirectX-based game engine to use not only a completely different underlying graphics framework, but a whole other set of OS-specific APIs is most likely monumental. As much as the Mac market has grown relative to its old size, it's still very small, making it doubtful whether it's enough to justify that kind of work.



    I don't mind rebooting for more serious games (i.e. the HL2 series) because, having played Mac "ports" of them, the speed, graphical performance and hardware support they have on Windows is unmatchable. If Apple gave two shi?uhh, hoots about gaming outside of the iPhone OS, this might not be the case, but they've made it painfully clear for the last decade that they don't.



    I'm sorry if this makes me a "Debbie Downer". There are many things about OS X that we can be exceedingly proud of. Games aren't one of them.
  • Reply 20 of 54
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    I doubt Steve will be too happy about this, but if I understand this correctly this is a decision that is up to Valve, right? If they decide they can build a good mac experience and have enough customers for those games why not bring steam over to the mac. I still think that gaming should be done on an xbox or a ps3, since they are cheaper then an adequately future gaming proof macbook pro or iMac.
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