You see, the Macintosh was a huge risk, with its fancy graphic user interface and mouse, and Apple’s corporate overlords were worried that people would see it as a toy. This combined with their incredible talent for putting out advanced computers that nobody would actually buy, and general control freak attitude, quickly cemented their absolute inability to get a game for their computers that didn’t blow horribly.
The problem was, of course, by 1990, when PC gaming started getting really GOOD, everybody owned a Windows machine, and Windows was based on fairly open architecture that anybody could code for. Apple, on the other hand, likes to rule with an iron fist: this is why everything “just works” with Apple, because they don’t have to let anybody else play. This is why they’re currently trying to kick Adobe in the nuts over Flash, and have banned any sort of third-party compiler for iPhone apps; they’re control freaks who want everybody under one rule. Like the Soviet Union, but with better design.
Not that Mac gaming was all bad, but it was, like, five titles worth playing, and anything good it usually lost, pronto. There were the Marathon games, which were innovative first person shooters. In fact, they led right into a shooter franchise called “Halo” that you might have heard of, which was going to be on the Mac until…well…yeah. Penny Arcade pretty aptly summed up how Mac gamers felt over that. Then there was “Myst”, which was actually built on HyperCard, and created a really annoying trend of first-person puzzle games for a while, a genre that thankfully died around 1998 and wouldn’t come back until “Portal”, which immediately redeemed the genre for all of its sins.
But, since games weren’t a priority at Cupertino, mostly it was crap original games and crap ports, mostly because Macs didn’t run Intel processors and as a result, the games had to be recoded. And this was if you could even find Mac games in the first place. Since nobody owned a Mac, it wasn’t like you could find much at your local EBGames. I remember, almost ten years ago, finally tracking down a copy of SiN. Yeah, this game:
Selling 50,000 discs of this was considered a best-seller on the Mac.
True, the burden lifted a bit with Mac joining the Intel club; with the creation of Cider, which could transcode games to Mac effectively; and Boot Camp, which just let you switch OSes, but by that point, nobody even wanted to play games on the Mac anyway; it was too little too late. Even Steam could have been on the Mac so much earlier. This is what Gabe Newell had to say about coding for Macs in 2007:
…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.
So, what the hell happened that Mac gaming finally stopped sucking somewhat and Mac users could finally play advanced, edgy hits like “Loom”? I’m guessing Apple finally woke up when they sold millions of iPhones and half the apps were crappy games. Coding for OSX is a first step to coding for the iPad, which, as you might have heard, is the next technological sensation that’ll replace the netbook, books, and your girlfriend once they get that force feedback codpiece, the iVag, up and running. Somebody, probably Steve Jobs, realized that they needed to address this whole gaming thing.
This faces Mac users with a new problem; being spoiled for choice. Yeah, there are still legions of Bejeweled knockoffs, but when Street Fighter IV, Tekken, and Rock Band show up for your platform, you’ve officially arrived. And the future looks similarly bright for the iPad; in addition to all the games available on the iPhone, which will look terrible but will at least be there, games actually made for that platform are no doubt going to besiege the iPad at any moment.
Which is great, but for Mac users, it doesn’t mean much. But at least right now we have Steam, with its wide variety of…um…
OK, right now, it’s mostly crap. About half the games on Steam feature, for some reason, the Madballs:
But, hey, us Mac users finally have “Portal” and presumably “Portal 2″ is going to be Mac friendly. Maybe eventually we’ll get “Half-Life 2″! Or “Team Fortress 2″! Then we’ll only be three years behind, instead of seven!