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Valve Bringing Steam to Mac & iPhone

Gordon Kelly


Valve Bringing Steam to Mac & iPhone

It is one of the great misnomers of the "I'm a Mac" ads that Apple computers are somehow more 'fun' than PCs given that they have virtually no gaming support. Thankfully Valve looks about to change that...

Issuing a teaser which leaves no-one in any doubt as to their intentions, the gaming maestro has shown off some comical Apple-inspired takes on its Half Life, Team Fortress and Left For Dead titles. This following industry rumours that Valve is currently developing an Apple-compatible port of its Steam game distribution service.

An official response/confirmation on this is expected to come at the 2010 Game Developers Conference where Valve is accepting a 'Pioneer Award' - and that seems apt given the context.

Of course the counterpoint is, while Apple has (relatively) recently embraced Intel processors and Nvidia GPUs its systems certainly don't pack the power of a traditional PC gaming rig. Consequently either Valve will be scaling down its key titles (admittedly the majority aren't overly taxing these days) or it could coincide with a major push from Apple into the gaming space.

Furthermore, talk has also begun of bringing Valve content to the iPhone and given the success of gaming on the handset it may just have whetted Apple's appetite for more.

In related news Apple has picked up where it left off banning adult themed apps, by removing all WiFi detecting apps without warning from the App Store. No explanation or apology has been issued other than they violated the "private framework", an excuse which seems odd given Apple's own WiFi detector does much the same thing.

Anyone else you'd care to alienate Apple? I'd suggest the dictionary apps for containing rude words, but Apple has already beaten me to that and awarded them all an adult certificate...


Valve Images via Kotaku

WiFi detector removal via The Register


March 5, 2010, 6:07 am

Steam alone on Mac OS isn't anything to get excited about given that GamersGate already offers digital distribution for mac games but if Valve are porting The Orange Box that'll be interesting news.

If Apple made a gaming PC that'd be really interesting. It does seem unlikely given that Apple has a lot of opposite design ideals to the PC gaming community (at least that part of it not getting distracted by shiny new distribution systems *cough cough*).


March 5, 2010, 6:34 am

I think one of the T&Cs is that no app can replicate core functionality and with opera wanting to bring a web browser to the iphone/ipod touch apple have cut all the wifi apps so opera can't argue 'well the wifi apps replicate functionality and they are in the app store'

Tim Sutton

March 5, 2010, 7:30 am

Oh good, yet another excuse for a delay to Episode 3. Just finish the damn thing!

While not Apple bashing (honestly, I'm in a good mood and everything)how well do FPS games work on a Mac mouse? My understanding is that they don't support mouse chording, and in fact the standard mouse wont even register a right click if the left side of the mouse has finger contact. (thank-you Wiki)

Hans Gruber

March 5, 2010, 7:39 am

'Whetted' - to increase or enhance (the appetite, desire, etc.); stimulate

'Wetted' - To make wet; dampen: wet a sponge

/pedant mode off

Nice to know Apple are finally moving into the 21st Century regarding support for <cough> PC games. Hopefully this will mean eventually Apple platform titles like Battlefield 2142 won't cost the best part of £50 in comparison to the nine quid or so you'd pay if you'd been buying this relatively old title for the PC.

Can't you get a Nvidia GTX 285 for the Mac? Have Apple fixed their OSX OpenGL drivers yet?


March 5, 2010, 1:58 pm

Please God no! I despise Steam for a number of reasons, most recently being trying to get Empire Total War to work. You would think physically owning the disc would mean a relatively straightforward and pain free installation process. Hours later (possibly days!) and still no joy. Thankfully the game was worth the wait.

But it's systems like Steam that, I'm sorry to say, encourage some to download pirated games. It would need to take a seriously special game for me to consider going through the whole Steam process.


March 5, 2010, 2:48 pm

@Jones: I personally like the way steam works, the part I like about it is that you don't need a physical disk :), and it's that part that stops me wanting or trying to pirate games, I really hate games that require you to have the CD/DVD in the drive before you can play. This is even the case with my XBox360, yeah you can copy the games to the Consoles HD, but you still need the CD/DVD in the drive when you play.. grrr.

Here is a list of why I like Steam.

1. Games are always kept up to date

2. Buy a game, and never loose it.

3. Don't need a CD/DVD ever.

4. Backing up games, just a case of copying a directory

5. Nice catalogue of games now, and you can get some bargains.

6. Has Counter Strike Source, :) great game, especially with the GunGame mod.

There is only one thing I'm not too fond of with Steam, while it's running in the background and while not even using a Steam game it's a bit of a resource hog. Simple answer close Steam and only login when you need to play.


March 5, 2010, 3:02 pm

I think steam is a great way of delivering content, I've not had any issues with it, the payment, download and running of titles has worked for me without a hiccup (although downloading the HL2 updates over a dialup in the days before broadband in my area, was no picnic!). Another handy feature on top of those mention above, when you get a new computer, you sign into your steam account and leave it to download the titles you still want to use, so no tedious re-installing everything. Also, the pre-download feature for unreleased games is handy, enabling them to be unlocked on the minute of release, for those that just can't wait!

Personally, I'm a bit 'meh' about Apple computers, but it can't be a bad thing for those people that must have them to, have access to Valve games, which are largely very high quality, especially the likes of HL2, I think it's a coup for apple as the gaming potential will undoubtedly sway those that are looking for a new machine, but fancy a bit of gaming as well, and previously would not have had the option on a Mac.


March 5, 2010, 3:06 pm

As someone who only boots into Windows in order to play games, it'll be nice not to have to do so for Source engine games if Valve are doing a native port. Hopefully it'll encourage more game developers to support Mac OS X properly and then I won't need Windows at all.

@Jay: The reason given for banning the WiFi apps was that they made use of 'private frameworks' which are not part of the iPhone SDK. As registered iPhone developers they would have agreed not to use these by agreeing to the terms of the SDK licence.

@Tim Sutton: Agreed Mac mice aren't ideal for gaming, I use a Logitech one.

@Jones: I've had very few issues with Steam, but then I use it mainly for Valve's own games. For third party games, the integration with Steam is not great or non-existent and you can often find it cheaper to buy a physical copy from an online retailer.


March 5, 2010, 4:00 pm

Havent bought a Steam game since I realised I couldnt pass it on my copy of HL2 my brother to play once I was finished it.

Can OSX support direct x?

Tariq Pugh

March 5, 2010, 4:22 pm

Good in principle, as long as:

- We don't end up with Apple-ified games which pander to the generally lower specs of the average mac compared to the average gaming rig. I know that Valve titles typically have lower requirements, but they do tend to scale well in terms of offering a better visua experience on more powerful hardware.

- Valve don't take EVEN LONGER to get games finished!

- Valve don't shift away from the big game-changing titles in favour of 'casual' games.

Dear Valve, please don't change. That would be Appeasement, which is bad, because of Nazis and stuff (I flunked History, can't you tell!)


March 5, 2010, 4:24 pm

Have just bought a physical copy of Battlefield Bad Company 2 Limited Edition for £24.99 at Game.co.uk. It's £34.99 to download from Game and also on Steam. A £10 premium for the privilege of downloading it seems puzzling? I'm guessing it's no small download either and would use up a sizable amount of anyone's bandwidth allowance, unless they were to schedule the download for off peak (not that Steam has support for that).


March 5, 2010, 5:07 pm

@Everyone: Glad there are many who find Steam a benefit. Maybe Ive been harsh on it and should try it again.

@Bobafett: You are certainly right about 3rd party games. The problem I had with Empire Total War was that Steam simply would not allow me to instal from the disc that I had physically bought just a couple of hours before. It took hours and hours to force the installation from the disc rather than constantly trying to download via Steam. Empire being some 15 gigs or something rediculous in size was obviously going to take some time hence the frustration. I can only assume this is something that has since been corrected as it was a common problem when the game came out.


March 5, 2010, 5:28 pm

@ Keith: I agree with all the advantages of Steam you list, but there is one HUGE problem with it - games CANNOT be transferred between users, so once you've played a game and finished it, you can't sell it on second-hand. I made this mistake with Modern Warefare 2; I paid £30 for it, played it for about a day, realised it wasn't all it was hyped up to be, and now I'm stuck with it. In the old days I'd have eBayed it and put the proceeds towards a better game!

@ Mobies: I can't see Microsoft ever letting the Mac get their hands on Directx code myself. Of course there's always OpenGL, but how many games still use that these days? World of Warcraft, and a few Id titles, perhaps?


March 5, 2010, 6:13 pm

Apple once again proving they are just arses.

HTC Desire next then.. :)


March 5, 2010, 6:23 pm

@Bobafett Steam prices tend to be generally higher than play.com et al because, I think, the prices are set in USD and then converted rather being properly, competitively, localized. This is made up for by the very regular, often enormous, special discounts.

As for the second-hand thing, most developers (or at least publishers), Steam using or not, are trying to tackle second-hand sales as they see it as being almost the same as piracy.


March 5, 2010, 6:47 pm

@Keith: Most of the advantages you list are general among all digital distribution services (GamersGate, Impulse, Direct2Drive, EA Store etc. etc.) and at least GamersGate and Direct2Drive already sell Mac games.

@BobaFett: Yeah, they all do it unfortunately. I guess it's something to do with the publishers. Although in this case GamersGate has BF:BC2 for £30 and EA Store has it for £26.25 after the discount code available.


March 5, 2010, 7:16 pm

This would only happen once Apple saw they had a viable platform to take on Windows. This is where the next battle will be fought. I just hope Steam don't have to make compromises to get their platform on OSX. In fact, I hope it's Apple that is forced to compromise, since it's them who needing gaming to increase the growth of the Apple Brand in the Consumer computing market


March 5, 2010, 7:23 pm

@Beaky69: Yeah, true. I've never sold a game on afterwards, but I can see how this to a lot of people is a pain.

@xenos: Eh!!, strange comment. This is about Steam/Valve coming to the Mac, what has Apple done wrong here again?


March 5, 2010, 7:26 pm

@Xiphias: Yeah, I've used Direct2Drive before. But if I remember correctly it never kept the games up to date, but I did use Xfire to sort that one out. :) Things may be different now, not used Direct2Drive for a long time.


March 5, 2010, 8:42 pm

@Keith - read the 'In related news..' section at the end of the article :)


March 5, 2010, 8:54 pm

@xenos: Oh, yeah, got caught up with the Steam bit :).. Actually that is wrong!!!, sorry Apple can't defend you on that one, you ARE been an arse. If it broke the T&C's it shouldn't have been approved in the first place.


March 9, 2010, 1:55 am

Latest news is Valve has done a native port of the Source engine and if you already own a PC version of a game, you can get the Mac version at no extra charge. Also save games can be stored in the Steam Cloud so you can continue your game of Half Life 2 on either platform.


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