Steam coming to OS X in April; no repurchasing required

Earlier today, the company Valve, famous for its Steam platform and Half-Life series of games (amongst many others) announced that it will be shipping a native OS X version of Steam next month, with some very welcome new additions.

Valve let the news out via a press release on its website, stating that their entire range of games will be ported, including Half-Life, Left 4 Dead 2, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress 2, and, of course, Portal. Note that those are games made by Valve itself; third-party titles won't be on the Mac-compatible store by default but developers will most likely want to have their software ported by the time April rolls around.

The games themselves will run natively on the OS X platform, with the new Steam client using WebKit to display its data; in addition, Valve's Source engine is utilizing OpenGL, meaning that games will play just as nicely on the Mac as they do the PC. Whilst this is good news by itself, you're left wondering: will developers have to spend a lot of time and money porting their titles to a platform that has yet to prove itself when it comes to gaming? Perhaps not, according to Josh Weier, the project leader on Portal 2. "Checking in code produces a PC build and a Mac build at the same time, automatically, so the two platforms are perfectly in lock-step. We're always playing a native version on the Mac right alongside the PC. This makes it very easy for us and for anyone using Source to do game development for the Mac."

Along with the announcement today, Valve introduced a new feature for Steam, namely Steam Play. Steam Play simply means that any titles that have been purchased in the past via Steam will also be allowed to run on the Mac, without having to buy a game a second time, or pay any conversion fees. This will no doubt bring a great deal of popularity to the OS X version of the service right off the bat, as most customers will already own a few titles. Steam Cloud will be included with the Mac client, which will now synchronize game save files between the two platforms, meaning that a person can play a game on a PC, then switch over to a Mac and continue playing exactly where they left off. In addition to that, multiplayer games will work cross-platform, allowing Mac to play against PC and vice versa. 

Portal 2 will be Valve's first game that ships simultaneously on the Mac and PC, with the Mac now considered a "tier-1" platform by Valve, meaning that all future titles will be compatible with both operating systems plus the Xbox 360. As mentioned, expect to see Steam on OS X next month.

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I think this is actually great. It will bring more legitimacy to the Mac as a gaming platform. I, however, am a bit perplexed as to why a few individuals in the Mac community seem to think that this is the end of Windows. I normally have thicker skin about such things, but some of the comments I have been reading are just irrational nonsense.

An example... search Macrumors for a guy named BRlawyer.

Remysaus said,
Awesome, I might need to get an extra mouse though, don't really see the Magic Mouse as a good gaming mouse :P

I've been using a Razer Diamondback 3G for a few years on my Macs. Been using it ever since my Logitech MX 510 died on me :(

There is the problem that OpenGL is just not as advanced/fast as DX, but I suppose you'll still get to "play" the game even if it's not as visually appealing as it could be on a decent PC rig.

This isn't me hating on macs, or openGL, just pointing out the fact that the game will still likely be designed with DX in mind in terms of shaders, A/A, and affects, and while there will be "native" OpenGL versions, they will likely have a lot of that turned down simply because it's just not as feature rich as latest gen DX.

I love my mac, and I'm hoping to see some ports of games for "practicality" purposes that will let me game some specific games without needing to boot up my gaming rig, and I'm sure it's got a market demand... but I can't remotely imagine the games will look/run as well on a comparably equipped windows system unless we see OpenGL really step up it's game.

AgentGray said,
There is the problem that OpenGL is just not as advanced/fast as DX, but I suppose you'll still get to "play" the game even if it's not as visually appealing as it could be on a decent PC rig.

This isn't me hating on macs, or openGL, just pointing out the fact that the game will still likely be designed with DX in mind in terms of shaders, A/A, and affects, and while there will be "native" OpenGL versions, they will likely have a lot of that turned down simply because it's just not as feature rich as latest gen DX.

I love my mac, and I'm hoping to see some ports of games for "practicality" purposes that will let me game some specific games without needing to boot up my gaming rig, and I'm sure it's got a market demand... but I can't remotely imagine the games will look/run as well on a comparably equipped windows system unless we see OpenGL really step up it's game.

Apple needs to fix some of the existing issues with their implementation of OpenGL. I frequent the Crossover forums, and it's always a PITA to see something work in the Linux version but remain broken in the Apple version due to some driver bug or another.

NeoTrunks said,

Apple needs to fix some of the existing issues with their implementation of OpenGL. I frequent the Crossover forums, and it's always a PITA to see something work in the Linux version but remain broken in the Apple version due to some driver bug or another.

Some light at the end of the tunnel:

Cook now comments however that the Mac is a "very attractive platform for entertainment as a service," and that Valve has been cooperating with Apple and videocard makers to improve OpenGL support, both for first- and third-party games.

Link: http://www.macnn.com/articles/10/03/08/apple.notoriously.hesitant.about.mac.games/

very very impressive that you don't have to rebuy existing titles, im pretty sure apart from id software that every other company out there would have made users purchase the library again.

What is equally impressive is the engine is now platform. I haven't been a massive fan of the source engine, i found it pretty limiting and clunky on release. Even though updates have been added, looking at levels from HL2 and the episodes you can see how narrow and corridor like these are, especially when compared to Unreal3 and Crysis levels. Vampire the masquerade i think put a lot of developers off using the Source engine and instead they adopted other engines.

Apart from the amazing graphics, the unreal3 engine's main selling point is that it is cross platform, cutting down a lot on developer costs porting games between consoles and PC's. Obviously games are now big business and consumers demand high graphics, better AI etc. And the using middleware like Unreal3 is a big boon. Why i mention the Unreal3 engine is that i draw a lot of parrallels, as noted in the article, portal2 was compiled without any other overhead in both pc and mac formats. So as a developer i want to reach as big an audience as possible, the source engine has become a very serious consideration.

Soldiers33 said,
Dont macs have crap graphics card?

Depends on how you define "crap". The latest iMac models have either 4670 or 4850 video adapters from ATI/AMD, which are quite sufficient for pc gaming IMO.

tonyunreal said,

Depends on how you define "crap". The latest iMac models have either 4670 or 4850 video adapters from ATI/AMD, which are quite sufficient for pc gaming IMO.

As long as you don't want to play high quality...

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. said,
Great, I have to reinstall Windows to play my games one more month.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-

Jump the gun a little did we? :-P

So does this mean we're FINALLY going to get Steam Cloud support for the rest of the Source games? Mainly the HL2 games? This was promised back when Steam Cloud was first released about 18 months ago but never happened, much like the promised upgrade of HL2, and EP1 to the Orange Box Engine. Here's hoping...

Oh god, influx of Backburner pyros coming to TF2....

"How do make that puff of air?" "Use your right-click mouse button" "Whats a right-click mouse button? Oh well, this other flamethrower is better since it doesn't need right-click."

*And yes, the above is sarcasm*

Nagisan said,
Oh god, influx of Backburner pyros coming to TF2....

"How do make that puff of air?" "Use your right-click mouse button" "Whats a right-click mouse button? Oh well, this other flamethrower is better since it doesn't need right-click."

*And yes, the above is sarcasm*


Ah that old chestnut, even as a joke it's not really that funny. Macs have had 2 button mouses for ages and most modern mouses support Windows and OSX anyway. Beating a dead horse really...

Xerxes said,

Macs have had 2 button mouses for ages

Well to be fair you can't left and right click at the same time. Doesn't that make gaming hard?

PureLegend said,

Well to be fair you can't left and right click at the same time. Doesn't that make gaming hard?
That really depends on the game though, it's not like every game out there requires simultaneous left and right clicking. I'd consider this more an annoyance in a few games then anything else.

Xerxes said,

Ah that old chestnut, even as a joke it's not really that funny. Macs have had 2 button mouses for ages and most modern mouses support Windows and OSX anyway. Beating a dead horse really...

... I thought it was funny.

PureLegend said,

Well to be fair you can't left and right click at the same time. Doesn't that make gaming hard?

In that case, PC gaming mice could be a reasonable investment for serious Mac gamers.

That could be a problem for multiplayer games, but games like Portal should fare fine on Mighty Mice.

Edited by Denis W., Mar 9 2010, 9:48am :

brent3000 said,
I dont see the point of this.. Most Mac's i see run Windows 7 anyways /applestab

Not everyone wants to dual boot, plus it's more convenient to have it run natively.

tele-fragd said,

Not everyone wants to dual boot, plus it's more convenient to have it run natively.

Agreed. When I dual boot, I'm not able to run the multitude of other apps that I normally have going in the background. I'm not bothered enough to set up email and messaging on Windows at all.

brent3000 said,
I dont see the point of this.. Most Mac's i see run Windows 7 anyways /applestab

Also, Windows 7 is not cheep. You can buy an XBox 360 for the cost of Windows 7 retail.

Wow. I have to say as much as I love Valve, they are pretty much my favorite developer overall, I did not think the no repurchasing was going to be offered. Absolutely brilliant move for sure. I honestly never thought I would game on my Mac, I still may never have the need to, but to now have the option, well that is just fantastic.

I can't help but to wonder if Steam will ever charge monthly. I wonder how much bandwidth they use. All this transfer of information to and from the cloud, downloading of games...etc.

I love the service now, this is a great addition. Anything to proliferate PC gaming.

Great news while I have a gaming PC that does the job just fine, I'll probably still install Steam on my Mac mini and *try* running HL2 on it :P (it should run ok, I used to run it on a far worse PC then that!)

I'm just waiting for the time when I can just use a serial number from my boxed copy and download it through Steam. Now, that is something I could really look forward to!

Scirwode

Scirwode said,
I'm just waiting for the time when I can just use a serial number from my boxed copy and download it through Steam. Now, that is something I could really look forward to!

Scirwode


If it's one of Valves games you can! And this is awesome news...more newbs to pwn

SkyyPunk said,

If it's one of Valves games you can! And this is awesome news...more newbs to pwn

I'm waiting for Mass Effect, Mirror's Edge and NFS Undercover . I've already got The Orange Box and Left 4 Dead, just waiting for another Steam sale before I get Left 4 Dead 2 !

Scirwode

Scirwode said,
I'm just waiting for the time when I can just use a serial number from my boxed copy and download it through Steam. Now, that is something I could really look forward to!

Scirwode

There's a fair amount of games that allow you to do just that:

https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=7480-WUSF-3601

It requires that the publisher/developer agree a deal with Valve in order for it to work like that. Steam's bandwidth isn't free, and therefore the publishers and developers are required to pay for the privilege of making their games downloadable when they aren't purchased through steam. It doesn't apply to games that are purchased through Steam since I assume that Valve would simply take a cut from the transaction when you buy the game.

Now this is the kind of good development that the gaming industry should look into more. Excellent news... even though I have yet to get a single Valve game .. or a mac

Soldiers33 said,
im wondering if valve and apple had a deal?

Possible, but unlikely. Steam being the first digital distributor on Macs will be an absolute goldmine for Valve since it will probably take the competition months to catch up, if at all. Apple likely didn't have a say in it.

If they're doing native OpenGL versions... I wonder how much work would be required to hack these onto Linux.

Also, I wonder if we'll get the option to use OpenGL on Windows as well.

Valve, you have failed me; Now I can't make fun of those who buy Macs or annoy those at the Genius bar. Why not Linux instead? Major disappointment. Can't these Mac users run Windows on their Macs instead?

Billus said,
Valve, you have failed me; Now I can't make fun of those who buy Macs or annoy those at the Genius bar. Why not Linux instead? Major disappointment. Can't these Mac users run Windows on their Macs instead?

I was always the rebel and worked with Wine on the Mac and the moved to Crossover :p. L4D2 was a bit too much for CXG, so I'd have to boot into Windows to play that.

Billus said,
Valve, you have failed me; Now I can't make fun of those who buy Macs or annoy those at the Genius bar. Why not Linux instead? Major disappointment. Can't these Mac users run Windows on their Macs instead?

This is probably a good thing.

thunderclap82 said,
If other game developers start taking advantage of Steam being on OS X I think there will be a floodgate of games on the Mac.

I think that one very good positive effect it would have on Mac gaming is that it would bring down the price of Mac games. It usually takes people dying for prices on Mac games to go down, both years after they were released on the Mac and even more years after it was released on the PC. It's insulting that they'd want you to pay close to $150 for Neverwinter Nights and its two expansions so many years after it's release, especially when the whole package can be had on the PC for under $20.

If this were on Linux I'd be all over it. As it is though... I don't have a Mac and I don't plan on getting one. (Come on, Valve, just port TF2 to Linux...)

Silverskull said,
If this were on Linux I'd be all over it. As it is though... I don't have a Mac and I don't plan on getting one. (Come on, Valve, just port TF2 to Linux...)

I doubt Valve have enough people to support the endless problems with linux to make it worth the effort.

James Riske said,

I doubt Valve have enough people to support the endless problems with linux to make it worth the effort.


Most Linux users are technically minded anyway, and they can just throw a disclaimer on there saying that "the Linux version is currently unsupported". And if they can get it working on a stock Ubuntu install with Nvidia drivers, it would probably be enough for most people.

Silverskull said,
If this were on Linux I'd be all over it. As it is though... I don't have a Mac and I don't plan on getting one. (Come on, Valve, just port TF2 to Linux...)
They almost definitely won't be d