There are signs that Mac users won’t be “second class gamers” much longer. Obviously, with Windows bigger share of the computer market, gaming companies have put most of their efforts into games for peecees.
One big boost to the Mac platform was when Valve launched a Mac version of Steam in 2010. The service lets customers buy digital copies of games through a piece of software that doubles as a download manager, game updater, and chat tool.
When it launched for Mac, Valve included an option called “Steam Play” that gave buyers a dual-license to any game they bought so they could install and play it on both a Mac and a PC with Steam installed. There are now over 160 titles, with the company’s own software being released at the same time as their PC counterparts, says “CNET” (http://macte.ch/LchWZ).
Valve also brought its “Steamworks” suite to Mac. Steamworks offers key tools for developers looking to make their titles available on Steam.Valve had offered these tools to PC game makers since 2008, “but the fact that they weren’t on the Mac meant that a studio making use of those technologies, and that wanted to launch on both platforms would have to ditch those features on the Mac version,” says “CNET.”
Of course, lots of games are spring up on the Mac App Store. Those who love “serious” games that take lots of skills to master and lots of time to play may not be interested in the available games, most of which fall into the “casual” category. But there’s lots of room for casual games — as evidenced by the success of the Nintendo Wii.
And, as I’ve mentioned before, I think the idea of the GameDock system proposed by “Mac/Life” (though I’d put a twist on it): “The GameDock accommodates the iPhone and iPod touch and hooks directly to your TV and the Internet. Whether you download a game wirelessly via the handheld or wiredly via the GameDock, you pay just once for two versions of the same title.
“This is where things get interesting. When you download a game straight to your handheld, you can immediately begin playing the touch-controlled version of the game. And it’s glorious! And the next time you seat your handheld in the GameDock, the console immediately sucks down the full, expanded version of the game from the App Store, and stores it in its voluminous hard drive.
“So now you can play the console version of the very same game — with more features, more content, expanded controls, and, thanks to the GameDock’s integrated graphics processor, better visuals.
“And should you first download a game when your handheld is seated in the GameDock, the ‘mini’ version of the game shoots straight into your iPhone or touch, ready to play the next time you disengage from the console and hit the road.
“Of course, the GameDock scheme wouldn’t be quite so interesting if not for its seamless integration of content. For some game titles, the handheld version of the game exists as sort of an autonomous ‘mini game’ — its gameplay model runs independent of the console version’s. But for other titles, the handheld and console versions of the same game work together. Gameplay models obviously differ between the mobile and full versions, but each version hooks into the other in creative, novel, symbiotic ways. And through the power of syncing, your progress in level- and achievement-based games is saved and always propelled forward, regardless of which version you’re playing.”
But let’s take it even farther, as I’ve proposed before. What if Apple used the GameDock as a way to sell more Macs by offering Mac-only gaming options that tie in with the iPhone and iPod touch? Instead of connecting to a TV, the GameDock would connect to a Mac (and perhaps be built into high-end iMacs), allowing Apple computers to run the “bigger” versions of the “mini” games on the iPhone and iPod touch that Mac|Life suggested. The GameDock would also allow gyroscopic, multi-touch, accelerometer-equipped game controls (made by Apple, natch) to be used with the Mac games.
This might greatly enhance the “halo effect” of the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad sales on Apple computers. And it would certainly enhance the number of games available for the Mac.
— Dennis Sellers