Apple's OS X operating system for Macs has largely been regarded by game designers as the unimportant step-cousin to Microsoft's ubiquitous Windows interface for PCs. Today, Valve announced plans that may go a long way toward changing that phenomenon, announcing that its digital distribution hub Steam as well as its proprietary Source game engine will now be compatible with Mac computers.
Valve plans to launch Mac support with Steam and its personal library of games--which includes the Half-Life and Left 4 Dead series, as well as Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, and Portal--in April. Valve also said that it has updated its Steamworks development toolkit to allow a game built using the software to be interchangeable between the two desktop platforms.
"Steamworks for the Mac supports all of the Steamworks APIs, and we have added a new feature, called Steam Play, which allows customers who purchase the product for the Mac or Windows to play on the other platform free of charge," explained Valve's director of business development, Jason Holtman. "For example, Steam Play, in combination with the Steam Cloud, allows a gamer playing on their work PC to go home and pick up playing the same game at the same point on their home Mac."
Valve's first new game to support the Mac platform will be Portal 2 when it launches this holiday. The sequel to Valve's highly acclaimed The Orange Box pack-in, Portal 2 was officially announced for the Xbox 360 and PC last week, after a prolonged teaser campaign. The full-length, stand-alone title will include both single- and multiplayer modes in addition to other new features. Valve went on to note that the PC and Mac versions of the game are being developed in tandem.
"Checking in code produces a PC build and Mac build at the same time, automatically, so the two platforms are perfectly in lockstep," said Portal 2 project lead Josh Weier. "We're always playing a native version on the Mac right alongside the PC. This makes it very easy for us and for anyone using Source to do game development for the Mac."
The Bellevue, Washington-based developer went on to note that it now considers the Mac a "tier-1 platform so all of our future games will release simultaneously on Windows, Mac, and the Xbox 360." Further, Valve also intends to release game updates for Windows and Mac editions simultaneously. In fact, Mac and Windows users will intermingle in online matches, playing and communicating on the same servers and in the same game lobbies.