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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