Its been speculated for some time now, but it turns out that sometimes rumours that seem too good to be true, do materialize after all. Steam is coming to the Mac.
And not just im some crappy pseudo lameness through a dodgy emulation or some-such, but real honest to god native application which is, according to Valve to be considered a tier-1 level platform with simultaneous releases for PC, Mac and XBox 360 from now on. Also, Mac and PC builds will be concurrent, patches will be released to both simultaneously as well. The source engine, also gets the native treatment, now that Valve has incorporated OpenGL into its award winning, modular engine.
Portal 2 will be Valve's first simultaneous release for Mac and Windows. "Checking in code produces a PC build and Mac build at the same time, automatically, so the two platforms are perfectly in lock-step," said Josh Weier, Portal 2 Project Lead. "We're always playing a native version on the Mac right alongside the PC. This makes it very easy for us and for anyone using Source to do game development for the Mac."
This means that all steam games will be theoretically available to Mac users. Steam and Valve's own library of games including Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Portal, and the Half-Life series will be available as soon as April (next month).
But looking at the bigger picture, I think this is a huge industry changing announcement from Valve. I think this will be the event all Linux and Mac users had been hoping for to finally bust the lid off the "Windows is best for games". This is a great idea from valve because it means that they're going to have access toa huge market of new potential gamers. I suspect that many OSX users will flock to Steam as their de facto games delivery platform, since historically only very large titles were ever ported to MAc, and generally years after the PC launch.
What's more, if Valve is to be beleived, it may be more than just Source games coming, Gabe Newell, President of Valve said:
"As we transition from entertainment as a product to entertainment as a service, customers and developers need open, high-quality Internet clients, the Mac is a great platform for entertainment services."
"Our Steam partners, who are delivering over a thousand games to 25 million Steam clients, are very excited about adding support for the Mac," said Jason Holtman, Director of Business Development at Valve. "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. For example, Steam Play, in combination with the Steam Cloud, allows a gamer playing on their work PC to go home and pick up playing the same game at the same point on their home Mac. We expect most developers and publishers to take advantage of Steam Play."
Given the lack of enthusiasm for Windows Vista, and given he number of people I know to be making the move from Windows to Mac, I think this will only lessen the ties people have with Windows. Especially that source game licenses are granted for either platform. Blizzard has done this too, for the record. Its not quite as elegant as steam, but battle.net was (to my knowledge) the first way to get dual platform licences which could be downloaded from the web.
In summary, this is such exciting news for me, I am positively elated. And I think that this will cause quite a stir in the games industry, in that games that support only one platform may finally be a thing of the past.