After much speculation and some not-so-subtle hinting, Valve has officially announced a Mac version of popular gaming service Steam coming in April, and its bringing Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Portal and the Half-Life series with it.
While rumblings of Steam coming to the Mac platform have been stirring for quite some time, the first solid indicators came last month, when Mac-specific graphics were found in the beta test files for the new Steam service. Then Valve took things a step further, teasing Mac users with a series of images featuring popular Valve games integrated with Mac themes.
"As we transition from entertainment as a product to entertainment as a service, customers and developers need open, high-quality Internet clients," said Gabe Newell, President of Valve. "The Mac is a great platform for entertainment services."
The Mac version of Steam will include all of the features of its PC counterpart, as well as a new feature called Steam Play, which allows customers who purchase the game on one platform to download and play it for the other at no additional charge.
While it remains to be seen how many third-party developers will jump on board the Mac train, Valve is full-steam ahead on supporting the platform, eschewing popular emulation techniques to deliver native Mac games, day and date with the PC versions from here on out.
"We looked at a variety of methods to get our games onto the Mac and in the end decided to go with native versions rather than emulation," said John Cook, Director of Steam Development. "The inclusion of WebKit into Steam, and of OpenGL into Source gives us a lot of flexibility in how we move these technologies forward. We are treating the Mac as a tier-1 platform so all of our future games will release simultaneously on Windows, Mac, and the Xbox 360. Updates for the Mac will be available simultaneously with the Windows updates. Furthermore, Mac and Windows players will be part of the same multiplayer universe, sharing servers, lobbies, and so forth. We fully support a heterogeneous mix of servers and clients. The first Mac Steam client will be the new generation currently in beta testing on Windows."
Valve's first simultaneous release for Mac and PC will be Portal 2, announced earlier this month.
And now Mac users will be able to experience the joy of a large Steam release. I can't wait to share that with you guys.