Mac Gamers may have gotten improved video performance with the latest MacBook line refresh, but their Windows counterparts still have the upper hand, with more titles available, and more options for distribution as well. Valve’s Steam, for instance, provides one-stop-shopping for all your gaming software needs. No such service exists on the Mac platform, but that may soon change, thanks to the recent release of the open beta of Mac Games Arcade.
At this stage in the development of Mac Games Arcade, it’s probably unfair to compare it to the much more mature Steam marketplace, which offers major titles from a number of established studios. MGA offers 272 titles as of this writing, but most, if not all of these, are casual titles from smaller developers. Pricing varies between $9.95 and $39.95, and games are organized by category, though there’s also a list of new releases and an overall list of every title available. Popular casual games are all here, including Monopoly, Scrabble, and Diner Dash and a number of its spin-offs.
The MGA application itself resembles iTunes in layout and function. As with the iTunes store, you must register an account before you can make any purchases. You won’t be prompted for any credit card information until you actually make a purchase, though, so there’s no commitment involved in downloading the client and taking a look. If you do decide to purchase a game, most recent titles will download, install, and be immediately playable, although some older titles require a serial. MGA automatically generates one and sends it to you.
If you’re looking for some good, relatively inexpensive time wasters, MGA takes a way a lot of the hassle of tracking down good titles by consolidating them in one central location. They’re looking to expand their catalogue, although currently it’s unclear whether they’re aiming for major studio releases as well. Let’s hope so, since direct downloads are becoming more popular as the price of data storage drops, and I for one am tired of Windows gamers having the upper hand in this area.