Macs vs. Games?

Recently, a local community college was auctioning off some computers, and I got an iMac G5 out of the deal. I would post a picture, but the pop-up search box won't display the Mac's gallery when I type in "Mac". Instead, it wants to put some idiot named John MacTavish (insert Call of Duty 4 fans flaming me) at the top, despite the fact that there is an article with the exact name "Mac". I guess that just goes to show you how far removed Macs are from games.

Back on topic, I got the new Mac, and after having to send off to Apple for some new OS 10.3 discs, I turned it on. A few days later, I was hooked. I even found myself on the Windows computer I'm writing this blog on right now Control-clicking instead of right-clicking and swinging my mouse up to the top left of the screen to activate my Exposé "Show All Windows" feature. In fact, while I was waiting for said Windows computer to load, I yelled out in frustration how much I hate Windows after it STILL hadn't loaded after going elsewhere and listening to three CD tracks.

Anyway, so, said few days ago, I thought, "It would be cool if I could play Portal on the Mac." So I called up steampowered.com, and checked the "About". It only supported Windows. I was infuriated, then I suddenly realized that I really shouldn't be that surprised. Windows has dominated the market ever since ever. Hang on a second while I compare the platforms on their gaming prowess.

HARDWARE POWER: With Windows, you have a mixed bag of hardware. Some is great, some isn't that great. Macs are designed for graphics, video, and sound - which sounds like the perfect environment for some of the latest games. And although some stats may seem less than their IBM-compatible counterparts, Mac OS X is more tightly integrated so you end up getting better performance for less processor speed. Verdict: Mac.

HARDWARE ISSUES: Windows has a wide variety of hardware, so probably not all of it will work. Macs all use standard hardware, so once a game works on one Mac, it'll probably work on all of them (with the same operating system). Verdict: Mac.

HARDWARE UPGRADABILITY: Mac suffers a bit on this one. On my G5, you can't really get into the system's guts easily. However, as I said earlier, you probably won't really need to upgrade the hardware, as a $2,199 Intel iMac has 3.06GHz processing speed (faster than it sounds, even), 2GB of RAM, 500GB of hard disk, a 512MB graphics card, and a 24" widescreen display. PCs are more easily upgradable, but as I said, you don't need to on a Mac. Verdict: Technically Windows, but Mac doesn't really need upgrades so I'm not really going to count this one for either.

END-USER PRICING: On basic desktops, Windows runs circles around the Mac in terms of price point. But when it gets to gaming rigs, Mac models can match up with similarly priced IBM-compatibles. Verdict: Windows for lower-end models, Mac for gaming.

So as far as technics go, Macs would be an incredibly more suitable platform than PCs for game development. Then why don't people like Valve write software for Mac? The answer is this:

USER BASE: Macs have only 7.5% of the user base, with Windows having about 91% of the world. (We leave 1% for Linux, Solaris, and other operating systems most random people I talk to have never heard of.) How did Windows get so big? I have no idea. Okay, I have one idea, but I'll leave it alone for now. Interestingly, very few people seem to really LOVE Windows - one person in a book on switching from Mac to Windows said that she hated Macs, but really didn't know why.

However, THIS seems to be the key reason why Macs aren't developed for: not enough people use them. How can that be changed? The only way more people will use Macs is if more games/software are developed, but the reason more games/software isn't developed is because not enough people use Macs. It's not really going to be easy, at all, to get Macs to increase - it's all about who's going to make the first move. But in my opinion, it's necessary for the Mac to be realized as real gaming machine.. (Of course, until then, I can buy one of those shiny new Intel iMacs and dual-boot Windows. It would have to be on eBay, though.)

3 Comments
3 Comments
Posted by LeafStorm

Recently, a local community college was auctioning off some computers, and I got an iMac G5 out of the deal. I would post a picture, but the pop-up search box won't display the Mac's gallery when I type in "Mac". Instead, it wants to put some idiot named John MacTavish (insert Call of Duty 4 fans flaming me) at the top, despite the fact that there is an article with the exact name "Mac". I guess that just goes to show you how far removed Macs are from games.

Back on topic, I got the new Mac, and after having to send off to Apple for some new OS 10.3 discs, I turned it on. A few days later, I was hooked. I even found myself on the Windows computer I'm writing this blog on right now Control-clicking instead of right-clicking and swinging my mouse up to the top left of the screen to activate my Exposé "Show All Windows" feature. In fact, while I was waiting for said Windows computer to load, I yelled out in frustration how much I hate Windows after it STILL hadn't loaded after going elsewhere and listening to three CD tracks.

Anyway, so, said few days ago, I thought, "It would be cool if I could play Portal on the Mac." So I called up steampowered.com, and checked the "About". It only supported Windows. I was infuriated, then I suddenly realized that I really shouldn't be that surprised. Windows has dominated the market ever since ever. Hang on a second while I compare the platforms on their gaming prowess.

HARDWARE POWER: With Windows, you have a mixed bag of hardware. Some is great, some isn't that great. Macs are designed for graphics, video, and sound - which sounds like the perfect environment for some of the latest games. And although some stats may seem less than their IBM-compatible counterparts, Mac OS X is more tightly integrated so you end up getting better performance for less processor speed. Verdict: Mac.

HARDWARE ISSUES: Windows has a wide variety of hardware, so probably not all of it will work. Macs all use standard hardware, so once a game works on one Mac, it'll probably work on all of them (with the same operating system). Verdict: Mac.

HARDWARE UPGRADABILITY: Mac suffers a bit on this one. On my G5, you can't really get into the system's guts easily. However, as I said earlier, you probably won't really need to upgrade the hardware, as a $2,199 Intel iMac has 3.06GHz processing speed (faster than it sounds, even), 2GB of RAM, 500GB of hard disk, a 512MB graphics card, and a 24" widescreen display. PCs are more easily upgradable, but as I said, you don't need to on a Mac. Verdict: Technically Windows, but Mac doesn't really need upgrades so I'm not really going to count this one for either.

END-USER PRICING: On basic desktops, Windows runs circles around the Mac in terms of price point. But when it gets to gaming rigs, Mac models can match up with similarly priced IBM-compatibles. Verdict: Windows for lower-end models, Mac for gaming.

So as far as technics go, Macs would be an incredibly more suitable platform than PCs for game development. Then why don't people like Valve write software for Mac? The answer is this:

USER BASE: Macs have only 7.5% of the user base, with Windows having about 91% of the world. (We leave 1% for Linux, Solaris, and other operating systems most random people I talk to have never heard of.) How did Windows get so big? I have no idea. Okay, I have one idea, but I'll leave it alone for now. Interestingly, very few people seem to really LOVE Windows - one person in a book on switching from Mac to Windows said that she hated Macs, but really didn't know why.

However, THIS seems to be the key reason why Macs aren't developed for: not enough people use them. How can that be changed? The only way more people will use Macs is if more games/software are developed, but the reason more games/software isn't developed is because not enough people use Macs. It's not really going to be easy, at all, to get Macs to increase - it's all about who's going to make the first move. But in my opinion, it's necessary for the Mac to be realized as real gaming machine.. (Of course, until then, I can buy one of those shiny new Intel iMacs and dual-boot Windows. It would have to be on eBay, though.)

Posted by Irishjohn

I agree with a lot of this in theory but as you point out at the end, the install base is really the trump card in the discussion.  I play games on Vista through my Macbook Pro now, though it would be nice to play games straight from the OS I actually enjoy using.  Sigh.

However, I think it should be pointed out that the ability to upgrade hardware is huge.  My MBP currently runs most games but a year from now it won't have a prayer.  Now, that's an issue with it being a laptop as well, but when developers continue to essentially force people who like to play games on their PC to buy a new graphics card around once a year (a main reason the market doesn't do so well in my opinion), the ability to upgrade hardware is huge.
Posted by tremayne

Good article.

Its been years since I've taken part in some 'hardcore' PC gaming, since I dont really play the genre that PC's are better for (RTS), but when I need to load XP on my Unibody Macbook and crack on with Steam, it runs even smoother than my old Windows tower.

Thank the Apple migration to Intel, but most games run much smoother on Mac.