Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Valve's Gabe Newell on Apple & Gaming

Updated 5 October 2007
Updated 6 October 2007

In a recent interview between Kikizo and Gabe Newell, the MD of Valve (developers of Half Life), there are some interesting comments about Apple's attitude to gaming and why Half Life isn't on the Mac.

Valve have approached Apple on a number of occasions in recent years, and although the Apple people they've spoken to have expressed interest in helping make the Mac better for gaming, nothing has ever happened. As Gabe Newell says "I just don't think they've ever taken gaming seriously." He goes on to say "If I were a Macintosh product manager, it [gaming support] would be pretty high on my list, and a problem to get taken care of, as probably the number one thing holding them back with consumers."

Read the interview - the Apple comments are on the first page and paint a bleak picture of Mac gaming any time soon.

This reinforces my long held belief that by ignoring gaming Apple have missed the bus when it comes to getting hardware into homes and giving Microsoft some serious competition (as I've said more than once in this blog, right from the start). Mac gaming may not technically be dead yet, but outside of casual games it's looking more ordinary every day. And comments like those from Gabe Newell certainly don't do anything to make me think that things will change...

Update 5 October

Inside Mac Games' Tuncer Deniz, in his blog, has commented on Gabe Newell's remarks about why Half Life 2 isn't on the Mac. While accepting that some of his comments are valid, Tuncer points out that part of the reason at least is "because of Valve's insistence that anyone who wanted to port Half-Life 2 to the Mac had to advance $1 million to Valve." Now to those who have some idea what the market is for Mac games, that amount of money up front is quite unrealistic!

That aside though, Tuncer, a long term Mac gaming advocate, does accept that "the Mac is NOT a great gaming platform", that competition from consoles in particular isn't helping, and nor is Apple's attitude. But he remains optimistic about the future of gaming on the Mac given that the Mac's market share is rising and there is still strong support from developers and gamers. I hope he's right...

Read Tuncer's blog post for more.

Update 6 October

Macworld have commented on Gabe Newell's remarks in the above interview. They also note that much of what Gabe Newell says has merit, but they agree with Inside Mac Games that money is the main reason Half Life hasn't made it to Mac. In the article comparisons are drawn between Valve, and other publishers who have been successful and profitable with cross platform releases.

But one point was mentioned that has a wider significance. Whatever Valve's reasons for avoiding the Mac, they have game technology that they license out to other developers, and if Valve isn't developing for the Mac then neither are any of the developers using their technology. So Valve's attitude does have other ramifications for Mac gaming!

On the intensive use of DirectX with many new games on the PC, and whether it's another factor impacting on Mac conversions, they comment "
It’s a technical problem, sure, but it’s not insurmountable", pointing out that this hasn't stopped other developers porting PC games to the Mac.

Read the Macworld article for more details.

But I still have reservations about the future of Mac gaming after Valve's comments. If developers like Valve, for whatever reason, aren't pursuing Mac gaming, then something will have to change before we see Macs taken seriously by the wider game development community. Eidos is a good example, with Tomb Raider Legend being released by them on almost every conceivable platform, even a version for mobile phones, but not for Mac or Linux. If they're not prepared to put that extra effort into at least one more version of the game (given all those that have been released), then what hope is there..?

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