Although the PC gaming community resembles an elitist cult at some times, their primary sin is a general sense of reluctance to accept anything that challenges what they’ve come to expect from their gaming experiences. This general attitude has pervaded into the market strategy for many developers, resulting in a vast majority of games that are perfectly capable of running on most Macintosh computers being developed exclusively for the PC. Why are PC gamers so unwilling to allow titles such as The Witcher 2 and Battlefield 3 to show up on what many largely consider to be “rival hardware”? And, more importantly, why do developers listen to this nonsense?
The truth is, the PC gaming market is slowly dwindling in value, and an increasing amount of developers are finding it difficult to fit a PC port of their titles into the budget. Whether the excuse is piracy or a lack of development time, developers are finding more and more reasons to skimp on the PC version of their games. Fortunately, a few major developers such as Valve and Blizzard have stepped up to the plate to try and bring killer games to the Mac community, despite what the vocal PC crowd bitches and whines about. Why all the hate? Today, even games that do manage to release for the PC are receiving unprovoked scorn from the PC gaming community, and typically for very narrow-minded reasons. Take, for example, the numerous games that have released in the past several years that have been negatively received by the PC gaming community simply for being considered “console ports” of their Xbox 360 and PS3 counterparts. Whether this assumption is the result of a skeletal settings menu or the presence of auto-aim, the general mentality applies to how PC gamers approach the idea of their favorite games making an appearance on the Mac platform, even when such a notion could improve their demographic’s appeal to developers.
As I’m sure you’re already well aware, the console gaming community is several orders of magnitude larger than the PC’s market share, and even though Macintosh computers don’t occupy a terribly large chunk of the personal computing space, they do represent a much more succulent demographic for developers. Think about it for a moment: how many MacBooks do you see in a college classroom? What do college kids typically do to unwind? Are you starting to see the connection I’m trying to make here? The people that invest in the premium-priced MacBook lines are more than well-equipped to handle many games in today’s market, even if the graphics settings need to be turned down to accommodate the lack of graphical processing power present in mobile computing. Coupled with the slick and painless interface of the Mac OS platform alongside the trademark Apple synergy, and you’ve suddenly discovered a new way to engage people and sell more copies of your games to a broader market. Win-win, right?
Blizzard and Valve are not only excellent developers, but they also understand that by exploring the untapped potential of the Mac community, they are clearing a path for others to follow in their footsteps. Expanding the PC community by including Mac users is not only beneficial for potential sales numbers, but innovation as well. There’s no denying that the App Store is the most well-organized and functional method of delivering software, and having a single, unified platform to provide content for users will only increase revenue for developers. This kind of exposure for titles is exactly what the PC community needs to learn to accept, considering that there is a complete lack of unity on the PC platform (Steam comes close, however). With platforms such as Xfire, Origin (boo!), and Steam all competing against each other, it’s difficult to stay organized when you have so many different ways of connecting with your buddies to play a game. Should Game Center on the Mac be expanded to allow integration across all games (similar to how Xbox LIVE is handled), there could be a serious tectonic shift in the way that people approach the Mac platform. It suddenly becomes not only a great (yet pricey) investment for education or work purposes, but also an easy and painless gaming device with a rabid fanbase of passionate people just looking for things to spend their money on.
I’m not sure if developing full-fledged titles is an exercise in patience and frustration on the Macintosh platform, but if it’s anything like the SDK that App Store creators use, I’d be willing to bet that it’s not too bad. PC developers need to learn to ignore the discordant cries of the PC elite and increase the market potential of delivering games for the non-console crowd. If that means pissing off a very opinionated group of people to expand a market that many developers continue to be unworthy of allocating time and money to, it’s certainly worth it. It’s time for developers to follow the lead set by companies such as Blizzard and Valve to bring gaming to the masses, and whether or not their computer has a glowing white fruit on it should be completely irrelevant.