Steam rushes from Valve onto Macs
Hot cross platform game play
The online gaming megaservice and gamers' community Steam has introduced Mac support, as it promised on Tuesday.
The eponymous - and free - access app is now available for download from the Steam website. That's the good news. The bad news is that owners of older Macs need not apply. Steam will launch only on Intel-based Macs running Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later.
Wednesday's release is a bit sparse, with only 64 titles offered - the larger Steam universe includes over 1,100 games - but Valve has promised to continue adding titles "each Wednesday for the next few weeks."
There's a new tab in the Steam interface - and it has an apple on it
Today's featured Mac games on Steam all conform to the Steam Play feature, which allows the same purchase to be played on either a Mac or PC.
Among them are Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization, Sports Interactive's Football Manager 2010 (Note: That's football, not football - Ed.), and Runic Games' Torchlight. "Having Steam for the Mac solves so many problems for us as a developer," said Runic Games' co-founder Max Schaefer in a canned statement. "We look forward to our future games coming out on the Mac as well."
Steam's developer, Valve, first announced that Steam was coming to the Mac playform back in March of this year. At that time, Valve's biz-dev head Jason Holtman said: "Steamworks for the Mac supports all of the Steamworks APIs, and we have added a new feature, called Steam Play, which allows customers who purchase the product for the Mac or Windows to play on the other platform free of charge."
While shopping in Steam, you can view game videos
At that time, John Cook, Steam's director of development, added: "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." ®
Valve released Steam for the Mac at around 1pm Pacific time on Wednesday. We downloaded it just mere minutes later. After installing it - a simple drag-and-drop task - we launched the app, only to be told that a 33MB update was already available. For a 10-minute-old app.
Steam's invasive DRM
Er, pardon me?
What invasive DRM would that be, exactly? All of my Steam games merrily work on my laptop as well as my desktop at home and my, ahem, desktop at work too. The only 'DRM' is that I can't use all of them at once. I can even play my Steam games on my laptop while on a plane, with no net connection, so what is the problem? While some rabid developers (cough Ubisoft cough) still push machine authorization limits through Steam, an email and about 15 minutes wait have fixed any such problems I have had. Most publishers are learning to trust Steam and are removing such silly restrictions. My copy of Spore behaved perfectly on about 5 different machines from day 1 - bought through Steam.
While 'nasty' DRM certainly is a risk, Steam is by far the most benign of the bunch, and I can happily live with it. If you can't, then I guess you really have a big problem paying for things, which is what it all comes down to in the end.
I've been happy with Steam, clearly a lot of small devs are happy with it - look at the fantastic array of small-team games that are coming out these days that are real, old-school good fun high quality games (Osmos, Peggle, World of Goo...); it seems pretty much a win-win to me, I have fun, the small guys get paid, it keeps piracy down, and prices are fair.
get a grip
Now, take a deep breath and repeat after me - it is only a game, it is only a game.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Steam as long as you accept that:
1: it won't be around forever
2: they may or may not live up to their promise of unlocking everything if it does go belly up (who knows)
3: you can't resell Steam games (I don't remember Gamestation or anyone else ever buying 2nd hand PC games tbh - but that might just be in the West Mids).
However there ARE some advantages (personally I think the pros outweigh the cons):
1: no CD is in fact an advantage - I'll take Steam over Starforce or TAGES any day thanks - at least Steam isn't going to break my optical drive with variable spin timings. Also the lack of a disk means that there's no disk to get scratched beyond playability (my M2TW disk is getting a bit worn I've played the game that much).
2: anything you buy over Steam is licensed to the account, not the machine, and can be downloaded and played on any other machine (with Steam installed).
3: Steam doesn't REQUIRE an internet connection - it has an offline mode - unlike Assassins Creed 2 (although buying Assassins Creed 2 through Steam won't spare you that). Or take Dragon Age - if you install any of the extra shiny DLC on it then you need an internet connection to use that DLC as it is tied to your Bioware account.
4: You can have the "best of both worlds" - some games you buy on disk can then be (optionally) registered with Steam after the fact meaning you get the advantage of "download anywhere" combined with owning the original disk.
5: Steam has added "fluff" that goes beyond the game itself, like achievements, giving you bragging rights over your mates (assuming you have friends of course). Oki, not a huge issue but it's quite nice - I've ported my X3TC install into Steam with the latest patch for that reason.
6: Steam is a good platform for finding and joining games - for instance you can see when a friend pops onto a TF2 server and just go join them.
So - get your head out of your arse please - as a Steam user I KNOW there are disadvantages and that it will eventually die... but they are ONLY games! There are games that won't run because they're not compatible with newer versions of Windows, (really old) games that won't run because the game speed is tied to the processor speed and we're not on DX2/66 any more - there are a load of reasons why games become obsolete or unplayable, Steam going belly up is just another one, big deal.
Conversely however, some really old games that you probably couldn't get anywhere else are now available on Steam for a couple of quid (the entire X-Com series for instance) - how can that be a bad thing?
Not that sparse
64 titles is a bit sparse? Not for the Mac it isn't. For a platform that's never been used for games 64 is pretty damn good in my book - I'm looking forward to giving it a spin when I get back from work.
No more Boot Camp is a massive bonus for the Valve games I already own.
How anyone can moan at the greatest games distribution platform coming to the Mac is beyond me, are you lot never happy?