Valve Prophesise Mac Game Wave In 2011…

We can re-use these grabs forever, I think.

There’s the first part of a hefty interview with Valve on the (registration only, curse them) Basically, they’re saying they’re pleased with it, and the number of players with ipod-earphones on their TF2 characters is actually a good way to get a rule-of-thumb guess on the percentage of Mac-uptake (Free in-game headphones were given with the mac-purchase). However the key is the quotes from Jason Holtman (“Nobody’s fighting it, but everybody’s wondering what they do over the next year or two with their titles. It takes time to play a title and to fund a title, so they’re thinking about it and they’re incorporating this new data and this new way of thinking into these plans they’re making for a year or two.”) and Doug Lombardi (“People are looking at their titles for this holiday and saying ‘a Mac version would screw with my schedule, or I’d have to ship it late. Neither of those is super-desirable. But the titles that I have in Spring of 2011 or in Holiday of 2011, let’s have a discussion and let’s see those numbers and start to figure it out.‘”). So good news for the Mac owners. Of course, the flip of the story is “due to the lag between the new venue’s numbers and it effecting development decisions, expect the rest of 2010 to be slow”. So not all good news then. Ah, the news. It gives and it takes away.


  1. abhishek says:

    I know entire gaming communities who have the TF2 earbuds but don’t own a Mac…. All they did was to go to a cybercafe and log in to their Steam accounts there on a Mac just to get the item. I wonder how many people must have done this.

    • egg says:

      I download TF2 at an idle PC here at work, logged in, entered a server, died, got my earbuds and got out. A buddy of mine sent me his accout details to do the same for him. And so I did. And now we’re two PC players with Mac earbuds. ^_^

      So yeah, basically I don’t know any real Mac user who plays TF2. Or vice-versa.

    • Popish Frenzy says:

      yeah valve should fix it so that earbuds only appear on the player model when the user’s on a mac, similar to how the mildly disturbing paper masks can be equiped any time of year but only show up on the model during halloween. That such a move would also cause second Appleclypse on tf2 forums would be a leetle bonus.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I expect their numbers will be very heavily skewed. I’ve got the Earbuds as I have a MacBook I’ve borrowed from the office but trying to actually play Team Fortress on it isn’t possible (nor would I want to when I have a perfectly good gaming desktop) without horrendous framerates.
      There were whole forums of people getting the Earbuds by getting someone else to connect to a TF2 server on a Mac from their accounts. I doubt the number of people with Earbuds who actually have Macs & would use them for games is going to be at least 50% lower if not less than their figures indicate.

      Conversely however I know of a fair few people who have Macs & have never used OSX for games, they all dual boot into Windows. Those I’ve spoken to recently say the performance difference between running TF2 in OSX compared to Windows isn’t worth switching back & that’s the best like for like comparison you’re going to get.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      You can get a much more accurate figure for Mac usage by looking at the Steam hardware survey (about 5%). Of course, that doesn’t show the number of people using Windows on Apple hardware, so I’ll show up in both the OS X 10.6 and the Vista 32bit figures.

  2. Mac says:

    Come on, Valve’s development cycle couldn’t possibly be any longer could it ?

    HL2 Ep3 anyone?

  3. Radiant says:

    What’s a ‘mac’?
    Does it have a knife?

  4. Chris Evans says:

    Valve really do seem keen on Mac at the moment, after some brief comments from Doug in my Mac gaming piece I started to see how keen they are on Mac. This kind of thing further enforces my opinion that if big companies like Valve are starting to support Mac on a large scale, more developers will look to release on Mac along with PC at the same time.

    • Mac says:

      Lord nooooo …. the controls have already been simplified too much to accomodate gamepads – now with only one mouse button …. noooooo

    • Matthew says:

      Now now, don’t reinforce the inaccuracy! Macs have a lot more than one button these days.

    • Italian Prick says:

      @Matthew You mean… two ?

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      You still can’t click both buttons at the same time though, so if you want to play Heavy you’re going to need a third party mouse to pre-spin your gun.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      You can plug a proper mouse into a mac you know. I do at uni cuz I have to use macs there on occasion and I refuse to touch those glorified one button paper weights, so I carry a cheep and cheerful two button proper mouse in my bag every day and it works just fine.

  5. Skinlo says:

    Anyone want to copy the article here?

  6. Tei says:

    As a linux user, I am secretly happy that theres more Mac development to become real, since It will push free technologies, standards and everything that make multiplatform easier. As a bonus, often ugly and broken DRM can’t go multiplatform. So you have less games with broken SecuROM or such type of crapware. Steam is a type of DRM, but is a DRM that I tolerate and has more bonus than problems.
    I am not into nostalgia, but I appreciate his current games will be able to run in future hardware/ future versions of Windows. Game built with standards, and made multiplatform, are about a 60% there. A game that may run in Mac, will probably run in Windows 9 (wen it relase). A game built for Direct-X 6, may not run on Windows 7.

    It all adds. Is like how Google seems tryiing to make internet better. In some sense, is like Valve has adopted the PC platform, and his tryiing to de-crappify it, and make it a great platform for gamers and dev’s.

    FUN FACT: By porting a game to Mac, some bugs in the Windows version will be fixed. Making something multiplatform automagically make it more stable for everyone.

    • Chris Evans says:

      If there is more development on Mac then I don’t see why there won’t be more development on Linux. Chris Park told me in my article about Mac (and Linux) gaming that ‘Most of the major engines are adding multiplatform support, and when your engine supports it, it’s pretty easy to straddle both the PC and the Mac.’ and John Graham from Wolfire said “I think it’s likely that there will be a fundamental shift in what we call a gaming platform and distinctions between Mac, Linux and Windows computers may simply become irrelevant.”

      I think it is fair to say that if developers see the benefits in releasing on Mac, they will see the benefits in providing Linux support too.

    • subedii says:

      The thing is, if there is to be a decent push for Mac gaming, it must, must be met by corresponding moves on Apple’s part, especially when it comes to things like the hardware. Because we’ve been here in the past.

      I mean, id software first showcased Doom 3 on a Mac. Later on John Carmack comes out to say that Apple aren’t really interested in supporting games on the platform, they talk about it but aren;’t willing to support it.

      Heck, even Gabe Newell said similar. I remember reading a interview where he was asked why there wasn’t a Mac version of the Orange Box (this was back when it first released).

      Gabe: Well, we tried to have a conversation with Apple for several years, and they never seemed to… well, we have this pattern with Apple, where we meet with them, people there go “wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming”. And then we’ll say, “OK, here are three things you could do to make that better”, and then they say OK, and then we never see them again. And then a year later, a new group of people show up, who apparently have no idea that the last group of people were there, and never follow though on anything. So, they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there’s never any follow through on any of the things they say they’re going to do. That makes it hard to be excited about doing games for their platforms.

      MacWorld then ran a ranty piece about how greedy and stupid Gabe Newell was, which is all the more ironic now considering the attitude they take today.

      If Mac gaming is going to start becoming something real, Apple have to step up and be part of that push. They have the best opportunity right now.

    • Nobody Important says:

      The difference between Apple of 2003 and Apple of 2010 is the iOS platform. Games are huge. Apple is finally waking up.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      If gaming was big on Linux (don’t tell me about Wine, that’s not an acceptable option. Too much stuff just doesn’t work), I’d reinstall Ubuntu in a heart beat.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Presumably Valve think they got somewhere with Apple in the end. When I did a blog post from the beta about the frame rate drop playing Portal in OS X compared to playing in Boot Camp on the same machine I got a response from Valve saying they were hopeful that Apple would be doing something to address it in a future patch.

      They haven’t yet, of course.

    • Tei says:

      The problem with Microsoft is that is somewhat like Sauron, he loves to slave everyone to his will. This is evil, but not bad. The problem (for Microsoft) is that if you are not with Microsoft, you instantly are with everyone and makes new friends. Microsoft is like a ugly and abusive girlfriend that say “You are with me, or your friends”, and never, never, let you go out with your friends. One day you get angry, and says “Fuck you”, “I am going to make my game runs on OpenGL”. I know by fact that almost all Game Dev’s are fall in love with DirectX. So don’t expect things to change much. There are people that love his abusive girlfriends.

    • sebmojo says:

      MacWorld then ran a ranty piece about how greedy and stupid Gabe Newell was, which is all the more ironic now considering the attitude they take today.

      Here it is.

  7. Monchberter says:

    The real proof will be whether Apple respond and make their own graphics hardware more powerful in the low end Macbooks to accommodate gaming. At the moment trying to get decent performance out of a cheapish Mac (if in real monetary terms such a thing exists) is quite frustrating.

    Plus, Valve by making their graphics code available to devs for free is somewhat the opposite of the Jobsian totalitarian state that is apps and applications for anything by Apple.

    • roryok says:

      I’m really curious about how all this is going to pan out.

      I’m convinced apple are going to start turning MacOS into iOS. By that I mean they will introduce an app store into the next version of MacOS and eventually do away with the ability to install anything outside of that app store. When that day comes, Steam will be at odds with apple’s strategy.

      Interestinger and interestinger…

    • Monchberter says:

      I can’t see them daring to do an app store for OSX, too risky as Mac users are closer in spirit to PC users in that respect than iPad / iPhone owners.

      But the graphics thing did puzzle me. Mac gaming will only really be a reality when macs themselves can actually pay games well. At the moment, the shiny box does not betray the lack of horsepower within (I tried TF2 on a 2008 Macbook Pro and it chugged itself almost to death).

      Apple are not shouting about gaming for that reason – at the moment, the majority of their own hardware makes them look bad, even when compared to an XB360.

    • subedii says:

      That’s the worst part when you think about it.

      We’re over 5 years into the current console generation. Graphical benchmarks haven’t really moved on since Crysis, and most games require much lower end hardware than that because they’re developed with consoles as the lead platform, or at least with consoles in mind. And even those that don’t are made with lower hardware specs in mind so as not to limit your market.

      Couple this with the fact that the required hardware to run those games has only been becoming cheaper and cheaper over the years. There’s no real reason for Apple not to invest in adding decent graphical capabilities to their hardware. As it stands your only real options are between barely capable, and graphics workstation hardware.

    • roryok says:

      while the idea of a OSX app store might sound daring I don’t think its beyond them. They applied for a patent only two weeks ago for a system to display ads in an operating system, and the illustrations showed ads on an OSX desktop.

      Right now they consider iPad/iPhone apps and devices to be the future, and their biggest source of revenue. If they can force mac users to buy everything through an app store, and take a cut of every sale, they’ll do it.

      As for performance, I have a 2nd hand 2006 Macbook Pro which makes a fair attempt at Bioshock. Granted that’s under windows but I think the hardware isn’t so bad. That said, I’d take a HP envy over a new Macbook if I was buying again, you’re just throwing money away on a mac.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Really? I have a 2007 MacBook Pro, and I can’t get a playable frame rate in BioShock in anything approaching native resolution, even with every other setting turned all the way down. I really need a new machine if I want to keep playing current games, and I despise having to use Windows but, you’re right, I was looking at some PC World laptops the other day, and was blown away by how much more you can get for your money. They’ve finally launched an iMac with the 1GB graphics card that I would have thought the bare minimum for a new PC today, but when I specced it up on the web site it came to over two grand!

    • DrGonzo says:

      That’s absolutely crazy! Bioshock runs on a modified version of Unreal Engine 2 and should go easy on most moderate systems. So for example my modest in 2007 PC runs it no probs.

  8. fhfdh says:

    They be killing DX11 and the wonders of tesselation with their mclovin.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      Killing off DirectX in favour of OpenGL can only be a good thing. (The tessellation of which you speak is also available through OpenGL .)

    • Pod says:

      >Killing off DirectX in favour of OpenGL can only be a good thing.

      Do you care to explain why you think this?

    • stahlwerk says:

      OpenGL and DirectX are more or less identical in features. Microsoft in the latest DX iterations removed some cruft from the API, which OpenGL (design by comittee) still carries around in version 4.0. Also Apple, although highly dependant on OpenGL, refuse to update their API implementation beyond version 2.1 (IIRC), further stalling adoption and progress of the newer versions.

      But, hyperbolically speaking: If you have to program against a specific 3D-API, you are using the wrong middleware.

    • colinmarc says:

      Yeah, OpenGL and DirectX are pretty similar, even if you’re talking about power. Graphics cards don’t really care either, at this point. But one is open source, and therefore a sustainable product with a longer life. And if games are written in OpenGL, they don’t require much porting to work on mac, linux, etc. because OpenGL works natively on those operating systems. DirectX is proprietary and only works on windows.

      Of course, as stahlwerk mentioned, the problem is in engines. We need better, more popular OpenGL engines.

    • DrGonzo says:

      OpenGL isn’t as efficient as Directx. Or at least my computer always runs smoother in Directx apps than OpenGL. This is on an ATI

    • Bremze says:

      The fault lies in the drivers. Both Ati and Nvidia have been focusing on DirectX performance, while the OpenGL side is much less optimised.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      Drivers is one major reason for my previous statement. If the driver writers would focus more on OpenGL, the drivers would obviously be better for OpenGL.

      That I like cross-platformness is the other major one. If everybody used OpenGL for graphics, things would be less Microsoft-dependent.

      “If you have to program against a specific 3D-API, you are using the wrong middleware.”
      Or, as in my case, you’re *writing* middleware.

  9. Sacrovir says:

    Personally, i’d like to see more integration of PC and Mac gaming in the gaming press. Some magazines like PC gamer or Mac Format perhaps would find it hard given their title but that’s something of a shame. Games-wise they have a lot in common and i’m sure that a growth in Mac gaming is beneficial to the PC too. But currently most Mac mags are not gaming orientated whilst gaming mags are not generally Mac inclusive.

    Interestingly i notice that Mac news on Eurogamer is posted under “PC”.

  10. Meneth says:

    Macs are PCs (Personal Computer) too, so it makes perfect sense for any Mac news to be under “PC”

  11. TheMoo says:

    Well a Mac is a Personal Computer (PC), and now that they’re running on Intel processors there’s almost no difference in infrastructure too.
    Only reasons people still differentiate between Macs and PCs are Apple’s marketing (Mac users are cool folks and using a PC is totally for nerds) and the sometimes elitist PC userbase (Mac users are pretentious hipster douchbags and PC users are totally awesome).

  12. Optimaximal says:

    This news comes on the eve of Apple’s announcement that their new ‘Game Center’ app/system will not work on any old-school 1st/2nd Gen iPod Touch or the iPhone 3G…

    (You know, the most prolific devices etc.)

    One step forward, two steps back?

  13. Sacrovir says:

    Yes, totally agree. I was more referring to the likes of PCGamer persistantly labelling of a Mac as “the other PC” and how in such magazines you don’t get mod information for Macs or such things. Furthermore, even though hardware reviews are more critical to Macs (can the new imac run XXX for example?) PC mags, and websites, are dominated by reviews of graphics cards where the question is only “how well will they run” and not “will they run at all?”.

    As a Windows gamer (eurgh, that sounds so much worse than PC Gamer), it doesn’t bother me too much but i still think a small shift in the PC focus to Mac would be generally beneficial.

  14. subedii says:

    Apple explicitly and directly make that differentiation themselves, nobody else forced it on them, that’s just their marketing stance. In real terms they do not want their machines to be considered PC’s.

    I mean the ad campaign very literally goes “Hello I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC”. If Apple want their machines not to be considered PC’s, I can’t see it as anyone else’s fault when they generally aren’t, regardless of how untrue the claim is.

    Personally, I’d just as soon have Apple drop that ridiculous stance, and when we start seeing some real convergence, have the whole thing under one umbrella. I mean a unix machine is still a PC.

  15. Chorltonwheelie says:

    I’m sure Apple are cock-a-hoop at the thought of gamers ripping up their hardware to try and force a pair of 5970s into it, along with a non-stock cpu overclocked to oblivion all served with an enormous liquid cooling rig.
    Yeah, riiiiiiiiight!
    What gaming will do is find them out.
    Linux on the other hand…..interesting, very interesting.

  16. Durns says:

    Probably a pretty dumb question, but what makes it so tough to move games from PC to Mac? As far as I (vaguely) understand, they both use similar components and architecture – its the OS that is significantly different right?

    Can’t they just ‘wrap’ the game in some kind of ‘windows shell’ that interfaces with the Mac OS?

    Feel free to point and laugh.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      That sort of thing is possible in the most vaguest sense for normal windowing applications but for 3D stuff like games you need native code otherwise it’s so sluggish you might as well not bother. Even most apps converted in that manner are done as an interim solution while native code or a crossplatform framework (such as Qt) are implemented as the performace boost is generally worth the development time.

      No pointing or laughing required, it’s a valid question.

    • roryok says:

      I feel bad for the pointing and laughing bit now. Point and boo at me please.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Well using Unity I think you just have to export for Mac, then export for Windows. So he’s not completely wrong. Although, maybe I am.

    • solipsistnation says:

      That’s exactly what things like TransGaming and Cider do. The problem is, that extra layer of abstraction between the game and the hardware makes it run more slowly and adds new bugs that can be very difficult to track down.

  17. roryok says:

    <—- ha ha ha

    But seriously, the man difference is that the majority of windows / xbox games are written using DirectX / Direct3D where as Mac/Linux use a different system called OpenGL. All the graphics code is optimised for Direct3D and usually has to be rewritten for OpenGL. 'Wrapping' it is possible, but its a huge slowdown.

    However, the PS3 Does use OpenGL, so in theory, any game ported to the PS3 should be a lot easier to port to Mac/Linux.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      So you think all Valve’s shiny new Mac native code is what allowed for their “surprise” at E3?

    • subedii says:

      Or vice-versa. Hence the expectation that when Source was ported to the Mac we might shortly see first-hand ports of Valve games to the PS3.

      Then soon after that Gabe Newell shows up at the Sony E3 press conference to market the “best” version of Portal available on the consoles, coming to PS3.

    • subedii says:

      @ somnolentsurfer:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if that was pretty much the case.

    • roryok says:

      Saying its the “best” version on consoles is like saying getting shot in the leg is the “best” place to get shot. It’s still gonna suck.

    • roryok says:

      FYI I’m not badmouthing Portal there, rather the idiot boxes and their foolish ‘pads’

    • subedii says:

      Eh, I don’t see what there is to dislike. The gamepad’s not a huge hurdle, especially not for a game like this, and graphically it’s probably going to look just fine.

      More importantly, it’s coming with Steamworks, which is the reason they’re pushing it as the best version. Because unlike on the 360 side, they’ll be able to do instant patching and updating of the title, and possibly have other steamworks features as well.

      I was genuinely surprised that Sony would actually allow Valve to put Steamworks on their system.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I actually think Portal 2 being designed with a controller in mind could seriously impact the pc version.

    • TRS-80 says:

      The OS X Source engine port apparently does use a DirectX -> OpenGL wrapper, and performs worse than using Wine’s wrapper (well, CrossOver Games for OS X, which is based on Wine).

    • subedii says:

      I don’t see how. I mean to begin with, Valve still focus their games development on the PC side, largely because that’s where they make the most money. It’s still a source engine game, it’s not like they’re going to completely re-write how the PC mouse control is handled because they’re doing a separate PS3 port.

      And for a game like Portal, I don’t see what they’d change that would necessarily impact what they do with the PC version. Control mechanics will be differentiated between the two versions.

      I could potentially see level design issues in the slight possibility that you’d need a level that’s less demanding of precise inputs, but again, Portal was never the kind of game that demanded massive skill with the controls. That was one of its plus points, even non-gamers could largely play it, and they’re still aiming for around that level of difficulty with the sequel. And to be honest, I can’t think of any games where level design really was affected along those lines.

      I’m not sure what impact you’re expecting.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I was referring to the level design yeah. Maybe I’m much worse at fps’s than you but I did find it a pretty demanding game. I have no idea how someone could finish it on console. I guess the first one was released on both and was fine. I’m just being negative really.

      As to TRS-80 – I think the ports to mac work like that. But I don’t think that Portal 2 or any future releases will work like that. They are meant to be proper mac games.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Have any of you played any VALVe games on PC & then seen them being played on an Xbox 360?
      You will actually laugh at how easy & dumbed down the games are to make them playable by games controllers. L4D2 has autoaim, this is a game where you just spam bullets or melee at things which run directly at you & they still need to give console gamers crutches to make it fun on their control system. There’s a button which makes you spin 180 degrees!

      I long for the day when a multiplayer FPS is released across all 3 systems where you can play against each other on the same servers rather than them all being walled off from each other although it’ll probably be far too easy on PC.

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      Malibu Stacey…s’right.
      Infinity Ward decided against an “all format” multi-player option for MW2 after seeing the PC keyboard and mouse players easily wipe the floor with the console players. No axe to grind here bye the way, I play with my kids on their consoles all the time but that’s the reality of it.

    • subedii says:

      Chorlton, you’re going to have to back that up with a link or something, because the closest I’ve ever heard along those lines is a rumour that MS potentially nixed further support for cross-platform play, and it might have been for those reasons.

      As for auto-aim, that’s pretty much the point I’m making. That’s standard on console games, not just Valve games. It doesn’t really affect the PC versions of games since you don’t need to adjust for an inability to aim. And with this game in particular, there’s no major need for aiming accuracy in the first place.

      Trust me, if people were going to have a hard time playing FPS’s with a gamepad, they’d have it with over more demanding games far before they’d have it with a game like Portal.

  18. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Linux client would help, lets face it mac gaming is never going to take off without the exploiting cross compatible nature of it.

    Also I and every tf2 player i know have earphones because we strongarmed a mac using friend into logging in as us, so it’s not a very good metric.

  19. Frumples says:

    These two points make me sad – it’s been three years since the last HL2 episode, and in that time they’ll have made three Left 4 Dead games (which I love, btw). Valve seem to enjoy expanding their multiplayer titles, but the Half LIfe storyline is something I’ve loved more than any other game. MORE FREEMAN!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Yeahh more Freeman, i mean finish the Episodes, then let us wait for HL3. Also i think if steam cover the Linux as a platform (though there are thousands of distros) they will become the world dominant Digital Delivery system.

  21. Tetragrammaton says:

    surley no