For all you Mac fans facing a lull in your gaming experience on the Mac, there is some good news. Developers should be coming out with Mac versions of their games, now that Valve’s Steam for Mac is here. But don’t get too excited, because Valve itself believes that new releases will not materialize before 2011.
However, this new development should breathe new life into Mac gaming, which by all means was dying a slow death. And the more reassuring fact is that there are already plenty of Mac users on Steam, and some of them also own a PC. This shows that the PC is not perceived as the only gaming machine and the Mac is almost on an equal footing.
And this sort of user behavior on Steam is already drawing developers towards serious plans of releasing Mac versions of games, together with Windows PC versions and not ages later as the norm is nowadays.
The graphics performance of games on Mac is a potential roadblock, as is the fact that developers prefer Direct X to complex OpenGL coding. And there is no doubt that Mac has still some way to go before it matches up to Windows Pc in terms of gaming performance. For this graphics drivers need to be improved and the newer versions of OpenGL need to be used.
Valve has already started helping developers interested in making Mac games, by providing pre-written GL layer code. All Steamworks partners can access this code. So, in a way Steam is encouraging developers to toil as they do to get Mac versions of games up and running. And Valve surely hopes that this will expedite the availability of Mac games.
As for the reality check mentioned before, you should not expect all the big-name developers to take to this Mac revolution smoothly. Particularly for the big releases in the pipeline, starting to develop Mac versions now would mean that deadlines will never be met and thus huge losses.
So, what can you actually expect?
As Valve believes, developers, big and small, will look at 2011 releases for bringing out Mac and Windows versions at the same time. And it will not be ported versions anymore, but rather games written specifically for Mac, because finally they accept that the customers are there to cater to.
For Mac users, this is an interesting phase because gaming has never been a reason for using Mac. Will all that change in 2011? Let’s wait and hope for the best!