So, Steam for Mac is out. For those who don’t know, Steam is a games distribution platform by Valve, which includes both the actual download / file distribution of the games, and also a complete ecommerce platform and store for selling the games, coupled with a social network for people who play the games using Steam. Last but not least, Steam is also a massive anti-piracy platform, where Valve knows exactly which computers are running games licensed to whom.
The start has been a bit rough given the small amount of games and huge amount of updates that have gone out already, but it’s a good start. And it’s definitely awesome for Mac gaming.
The one detail in the whole shebang I like the most is the Steam Play licensing model, where Valve is trying to push that a player should only need to purchase a game once in order to install and play both on the Mac as well as on Windows. From the player perspective this is just fantastic, so I hope the revenue from these games supports this as a business model.
On the technical side, the games seem to be using a DirectX 9 compatibility layer that maps the DX9 calls to OpenGL. This isn’t working too smoothly yet, but it’s already been improved during the short time Mac Steam’s been public. This should make porting games fairly straightforward, and hence I truly hope that games companies will start to port their games to Steam / Mac, rather than using Transgaming’s Cider. At least in my experience, Cider ports tend to be crashy (for example, I can’t get Eve Online Mac to run at all), and obviously the Cider ports will miss out on the Social Networking features of Steam.