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Valve Opens Pipeline for Mac Gaming

Valve Opens Pipeline for Mac Gaming

Mac owners who are gamers tend to play on a console rather than on their computers, largely because offerings for the Mac have been few and far between. Online game distributor Valve intends to change that with the release of Steamworks for the Mac. "It will create a market for games for the Mac, where there wasn't a significant one before," said Parks Associates analyst Pietro Macchiarella.

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Mar 9, 2010 9:09 AM PT

Valve, one of the largest distributors of online games, has announced that it will make its Steam online gaming service and proprietary gaming engine, Source, available on the Mac.

The service, Steamworks for the Mac, comes equipped with Steam Play, a feature that allows play on either a PC or Mac at no additional charge. It also supports Steamworks APIs. The inclusion of WebKit into Steam and of OpenGL into Source gives the company a lot of flexibility, according to John Cook, director of Steam Development.

The games will be made available on the Mac platform as native apps. As Valve releases new games, it will simultaneously offer versions for Windows, Mac and Xbox 360.

Steam and Valve's library of games -- a group that includes "Left 4 Dead 2," "Team Fortress 2," "Counter-Strike," "Portal," and the "Half-Life" series -- will be available for the Mac next month.

The first Mac Steam client will be the new generation currently in beta testing on Windows. The first game out of the gate will be "Portal 2," released for both the Mac and Windows.

Valve did not reply to MacNewsWorld's requests for comment by press time.

Big for Macs

The news is a boost for gaming on the Mac, which has not been a hotbed of activity.

The availability of Valve games may generate more interest among Mac users -- and possibly prompt other distributors to make similar offers.

"It will create a market for games for the Mac, where there wasn't a significant one before," Pietro Macchiarella, an analyst with Park Associates, told MacNewsWorld.

However, the boost will be mainly psychological, at least in the short term, he said. "Any gains will be made by cannibalizing other gaming platforms."

At present, Mac owners who are gamers likely use something else to play games, such as a console, said Macciarella, so Valve's initiative is unlikely to bump up sales tremendously for the Mac-only environment.

Moving the Needle

The addition of Mac will not increase sales for Valve to any significant degree, Michael Pachter, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, told MacNewsWorld.

"The Mac installed base is a fraction of the PC base, and it's unlikely that more than 15 percent of gaming households own one," he noted.

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