Mac Vs PC: How Apple Got Back In The Game

For years - no, decades - games on the Mac have been a running joke, a constant source of derision from the dominant PC gaming community. But in a single move earlier this week, the Mac made a comeback.

In unveiling not only the release of its line-up of first-party titles - classic games like Portal, Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead - but of the company's Steam digital download service on the Mac, Valve has shown how antiquated and out of place its retail competitors on the PC (and even on consoles) have become in the digital age.

I'm not talking about the range of games on offer. The Steam Store's debut on the Mac later this year will no doubt contain only a fraction of the hundreds of games available on its PC counterpart. Nor am I talking about performance; the PC will always have the edge there, its ability to constantly be upgraded piece-by-piece placing it at a distinct advantage over Apple's Macs, which come "as is", and are rarely optimised for bleeding edge gaming performance.

No, I'm talking about convenience. About accessibility.

The real big announcement in Valve's move isn't' the fact Steam will be available on the Mac. It's the way that availability will be linked with a Steam user's PC account, via the new "Steam Play" service.

If you own a PC, and already have a Steam account, but also have a Mac - or work with a Mac, or have a Mac laptop - then you can bring any compatible games over. Bought Team Fortress 2 on PC? You can download it again on your Mac. For free. Same story if you own a Mac at home and work with a PC, or have a Mac desktop and a PC laptop.

As someone who works on a PC but has a Macbook for road trips, this is amazing news. Especially since it kicks sand in the face of Microsoft's under-performing Games for Windows Live initiative, which also sells PC games, acts as an online hub and features compatibly across systems (in GFW's case, the sharing of gamertag information across PC and Xbox 360).

As far as GFW Live is concerned, if I own a copy of something on Xbox 360, and want to play it on my PC (where applicable), tough. Even though I have the same Gamertag linked to both machines, I would have to buy the game twice to play it on both systems. The two copies of Fallout 3 in my house are testament to this. Even though I had a copy on 360 first, when I wanted to play it on PC, I had to go get another copy.

There are surely good reasons behind that, from a company perspective. That there are piracy risks, that it's not worth the effort (though surely it's not much harder bringing games from the PC to the Mac as it is the PC to 360). It certainly doesn't help Microsoft's cause on PC that it rarely publishes any games for the platform any more, something that affects the 360 as well since there are so few titles that are cross-compatible between the two systems. The first games Valve will be making cross-compatible between Mac and PC are, after all, its own titles.

But we shouldn't care about a company's point of view. We should care about what we want, and expect, as consumers. And if Valve can bring us Steam games that can not only be downloaded on two completely different systems, but played across those systems, then it should be applauded for doing so.

Any company not keeping up with Valve - with Microsoft being the key accused here - thus needs to lift its game. Because as soon as people start enjoying the ability to flit between their PC and Mac at will, the limited compatibility between other systems on the market will really start to show.


    Why are you acting as if it's such a big deal that you can bring your games over, for free? Why wouldn't that be expected?

    Considering the best gaming GPU you can get in a Mac is in the ATI 4XXX series, and the hardware is more expensive, I wouldn't get too excited. Not to mention that Apple hasn't officially done or said anything to go along with making Macs game friendly, in other words you can forget about running the latest and greatest with a nice res and details.

      The 4XXX series is still more than enough to play all the games announced and more.

        Agreed. My 27" iMac manages to run all the games announced (HL2, TF2, L4D etc) at maximum settings (no AA though, barely necessary at such high resolution) at 2560x1440, pretty well perfectly.
        I'll have to down the res to 1920x1080 for some newer games but it's still a damn capable system.

          And i'll bet that fancy 27 inch iMac cost more than my car ;)

          Ditto. When I'm playing stuff like HL2, maxed out, WITH AA and everything, I have to limit the frames at about 120. This is on a Macbook with a 9600GT.

          I find it pretty amazing that people say stuff like Macs aren't good enough hardware wise... because I've noticed a distinct pattern of thought in PC gamers when they're defending their platform (lol, bare with me), when it's a graphical argument, they'll say stuff like Crysis is the greatest game ever made and graphics are the only thing that's important. Then when you ask what's happened in PC land since Crysis, or make fun of Stalker CoP's graphics or something, they're all like "graphics are unimportant".

          TL:DR, Most of what PC gamers say about consoles and Macs is really defensive, untrue and just straight up biased. It's like a threat to their exclusivity and it's really childish.

    I still don't respect the mac as a gaming platform. The guys at apple are going to have to make leaps and bounds before I even consider gaming on a mac. Ignoring that though, yeh it would be nice to be able to download a game on a console over to another one or onto the PC. It's going to have to be a proper PC version that you download of course. Though I must admit, if I want a game then I'll buy it for the platform I want to play on. Chances are I won't ever play it on another one.

    I hope you do realise that valve tried to bring HL to mac some 10-12 years ago. they had the single player story all ready and working along with the multiplayer side, but because they couldnt get their mac version to work with the PC version in multiplayer they basically siad fuck it and told the mac community to piss off.

    Considering that the issue at hand was actually a fault of the quake 2 engine, as Quake 2 had the same problem yet was still released to mac community and sold extremely well i would add, it showed that valve did not care about the mac as a gaming platform unlike Blizzard and Bungie and ID software.

      Lol, you're saying it like Macs don't use Intel/Nvidia hardware now. This is what I hate about people who think they know things about Macs, they generally take things that happened 10-15 years ago and talk about it like it still applies today.

    Good article but this really is a victory for steam, valve and the consumer not Apple. Maintaining the website for a large chain of PC and IT stores my experience with apple is they charge ridicules prices for their computers and parts and are very anti competitive on a few fronts (just look back at the late 80's I think it was). Apple outsourced one company to make certified parts and when they came in at far cheaper prices than the official thing they lost so much money any contract to continue a choice for the consumer was revoked indefinitely. Even now we get people trying to buy them through us but there’s no point because Apple regulate the prices so legally we couldn’t offer a better deal on one even if we wanted to. I’m not so sure Mac vs PC is really the big picture, it’s a software studio and a distributer giving people a fair go no matter what platform they end up with (although Microsoft could learn a thing or two). At the end of day there is the always that annoying iFad appeal (although having used macs for quite a few years in the design industry myself I wouldn’t say as work station they are no good by any means) but the PC is a fantastic platform which is why it’s been so dominant for literally decades.

    Interesting Pro-PC arguments being raised here, but I think the fact is that you guys aren't the people Steam are trying to tap for new revenue. There are plenty of people here at my university (both students and staff) that only have Mac laptops. They are the same people who (if they have a console at all) would only have a Wii. Of course, you PC-gamers are probably going to point and laugh, but the Wii/Mac owners' money is just as good as yours. And as you rightly point out, Macs are more expensive, so it stands to reason that the Mac owners might have more disposable income. Just a thought.

      Possibly, the real hex is Mac owners pay far more for the exact same product, aka not something that’s any different to a PC in most cases. In fact, now more than ever both platforms are more identical than ever before (the entire architecture being Intel based). We actually sell (almost daily) PC laptop ram that works in a Mac and is less than half the price and trust me, no ones wants pay an extra $150 for same thing if they can avoid it.

        Most mac owners are sensible enough to buy their hard drives and RAM etc. from third parties. Just like most PC owners are sensible enough not to buy their RAM and Hard Drives from Dell or HP etc.

        The actual laptops themselves aren't much higher priced than big-brand name PC laptops once you configure them to be the same weight, battery life etc. There is a premium to pay, but you get it back when you sell the laptop to upgrade a few years later. They hold their value better typically. A few hundred dollars over the course of a few years is nothing if your work depends on it.

      No, their money is actually worth slightly less and smells funny. Strange but true.

      I cringed at that comment about Mac users all gaming on Wiis. We're not all retards... You'll find that 99% of people don't go Mac because it's "easier to use" or something, they go with it because it's a quicker more streamlined and reliable OS.

      My choice of OS is not reflective of my taste in gaming, and I think you'll find the opposite of what you say is true, the high end Mac users are pretty savvy when it comes to games/computers, they just got sick of all the shite that comes with Windows.

        Macs? comeback? gaming?

        ha....ha...hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahaha... few... that was a good one

    I've been a PC die hard for as long as I remember, ever since I bought Xenon 2 Megablast for the Sega Master System, only to find it was inferior to the PC version (which I had been playing on my father's 286). Recently however I have started using a Mac for work, and I now have the attitude "PC for games, Mac for everything else."

    This attitude I feel will change once more now Valve has announced Steam's move to the Mac. I only have a previous gen Macbook, with a 9400M GPU, however I see anyone porting/creating their games for the mac have a major advantage over any developer focusing only on the PC.

    Distinct system hardware.

    Ask any developer, and they will tell you focusing on one particular piece of hardware (eg the consoles) and they will tell you that being able to optimize for a single piece of hardware can make life a lot easier. While not all macs are the same, there is a very limited scope of hardware, and focus can be spent on optimizing for the limited set of hardware that Apple provides. By having such a small range, developers can make optimizations that make games like TF2 playable on a 9400M at 1280x800, which is a huge market share of the macs currently on the market.

    I use a Mac for work because it does everything I need and I don't have to worry anywhere near as much about malware and antivirus programs, and I need to run final cut Pro. The extra cost for the Mac (and it isn't a huge uplift compared to other 'brand-name' PCs) is easily justified for me, I have literally no down-time, and all of my work is heavily deadline based.

    I have a PC at home for gaming, that I literally only connect to the internet for Steam and for patches. The ability to take some gaming fun on the road with me on my Macbook Pro is awesome news, means I can ditch having to have a dual boot into windows.
    This is Valve looking at what customers want and delivering on it, and hoping that it means that they will make better money by satisfying customers. Everyone else, Microsoft, ubisoft, Sony etc. are all about doing what they perceive as best for the company first and making the customers wear it. I'm hopeful this will work out for Valve and maybe get other companies to realise that if you put the customer first, then perhaps better profits will follow.

    I'm a 360 gamer with 3 macs scattered around the house. The cross platform stuff is what excites me, I'd love to be able to play some TF2 with my PC mate. For all the arguments here, I think what Valve is trying to do is awesome, regardless of your allegiance.

    The immediacy of the negativity surprises me here.

      You won't be able to play 360 with any PC or Mac.
      but yeh, of course mac-pc will be available... they are basically the same, except mac is overpriced and is running OSX XD

    To each their own.
    Mac's have their own edge, but a gaming platform isnt really it.

    Sorry but I'd prefer that valve spent my money on making Episode 3 and HL3.

    I am a PC gamer myself, have been for well over a decade, probably closer to 2. Anyway, I think this is good news as it means more people can get into these games, or do so on a Mac like they do on a PC.

    I just hope we don't see a bunch of whining when those are likely to be the only games available for Macs. Other developers don't seem to bother most of the time with a Mac port. As long as it doesn't influence myself getting games on the PC it is all good.

    the Mac 'made a comeback' OH GET REAL yes Steam is releasing a few games on the Mac.. but I can't see every game developer being 'as nice'
    This is not a comeback.. hell it's not even a catch up..
    Apple Fan Boys.. get over yourselves!

    "Any company not keeping up with Valve – with Microsoft being the key accused here – thus needs to lift its game."

    Is this that iRhetoric I've been hearing so much about? Who taught you to spout this line of crap?

    Last I checked, Microsoft was right on the money.

    I have a Macbook and a gaming PC and would love to play TF2 and watch TV in the lounge as my PC is in my room. So hopefully I have a good enough macbook for it to play but all this is very good news.

    Mega Blast Playstation Sega And Nintendo Factory Outlet - Hornsby NSW. Gamesandconstellations Software Educational Games - Basket Range SA. Computer › NSW Newcastle Area

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