I know, I know, Christmas happened way back in December, but presents are better late than never! In case any of you Apple fanboys out there missed the news, Steam announced yesterday morning that they’re bringing their service to the Mac along with a great library of games which will be available to purchase like PC users running Steam.
In case you’ve not used used it before, Steam is probably the best digital games distribution platform out there, which most of the big and small games publishers are now using to cut out the need for physical media distribution for games. Not only are publishers using it to release new games, but also to find a market for their older games, for example Lucasarts re-released some of their older classic titles. It’s fair to say that we’re big fans of it here at Zath.
Gabe Newell, the President of Valve, said “The Mac is a great platform for entertainment services” and also introduced a great new feature which got me really excited, called Steam Play. With Steam Play, you can purchase a game for the Mac or Windows, and then download it free of charge for the other platform! This is a fantastic feature if you’re working from a PC at work and then go home to your Mac and want to continue exactly where you left off, you can!
Cross-platform compatibility is a huge advantage in what is currently a very divided market between PC games and games on Mac OS X. If you’ve bought PC games on Steam before now, this means that you’ll be able to download these games free of charge for the Mac when Steam comes to OS X.
Another piece of great news was delivered by John Cook, Director of Steam Development, who assured users “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.” Not only does this mean that OS X users won’t have to wait a ridiculously long time until releases come to the Mac, but it also means that gamers will be able to play games online with cross-platform multiplayer compatibility. Both Mac and Windows users will be part of the same universe and share servers and lobbies, ensuring the best cross-platform multiplayer gaming for Mac users.
Arguably the most important point made in the release was also from John Cook, who used the press release to say that although various methods of getting the games on to the OS X platform were considered, Steam opted to go with native versions in favour of emulation. This means that games offered through Steam on OS X will all be native versions of the game, which means better performance when gaming.
As far as I’m concerned, this news allows me to bid my final farewell to Bootcamp, and Windows on my Mac for the most part – I currently only use it for gaming and coding projects. It’s great to see Steam for OS X, which may hopefully help take an extra step in dismissing the ridiculous DRM schemes that many game companies have when selling games and until we see the likes of OnLive’s games on demand service launch and deliver on their promises, this is a great step in the right direction.
If enough users use Steam on both the Mac and PC, it may help avoid incidents such as Ubisoft’s error in their DRM usage on latest titles such as Assassin’s Creed 2, which has only put legitimate gamers at a disadvantage due to server attacks whilst all those sensible pirates carried on playing without any problem – it’s about time the gaming industry sorted itself out, let’s hope that Steam’s Mac OS X release date in April helps its cause.
UPDATE: Valve have now confirmed that the Steam For Mac application will have a release date of 12th May 2010 – not long to wait at all for all you Mac gamers out there! 🙂