Apple Gaming

30 Comments

I gave a speech today on the pros and cons of Apple against Windows Computers, and I discussed how one of the misconceptions that I’ve seen about Macs is that you can’t game on them. This of course is entirely untrue; but for some reason, many people don’t beleive you can game on a Mac. While thinking about this, and writing my speaking notes and what not, I had a thought. The thought was an entirely Mac gaming cafe. There is a gaming cafe near my house. It has free wireless, gaming, consoles, movies, coffee, the works (thecyberlan.com). Well I was thinking of how great it would be if there was a gaming cafe that ran entirely on say, Apple G5’s. These computers would easily run games like Halo, Battlefield, WOW, and Call of Duty. I regularly run, and see these games played on Powerbook G4’s with no problem, there is no reason they wouldn’t run on G5’s. The only problems with games is that most have to be purchased directly from an Apple store, and some like Counterstrike could not be played at all. But that is where Bootcamp would come into play.

The gaming cafe I attend runs on Windows PC’s with a program called “Smartlaunch” to manage user accounts, money, and time. Well, I can understand why they would want to use a software like this; Windows is fairly easy to mess up. I’m sure that there is software like this available for OS X , but I beleive you could run a Mac gaming cafe straight off of the operating system. Simply use a program like the Apple stores currently have to launch their Genius Bar software and things. Of course you would want to run a Smartlaunch type software, but in theory you could run it straight from the OS with minimal problems. It would have all the innovations of a regular gaming cafe, only the PC’s would be replaced wtih Macs. So the question is, how hard would it be to run an all Mac gaming cafe, and how well would it do?

30 Comments

D.Chong

Why isn’t Apple making a new gaming console after the failure of The Pippin?

i mean, the best way is to cover your shame is to redeem yourself, instead of denying it.

someone

Gaming on a mac is fine, but if you’re going to game on a mac using Windows, be sure that the graphics card can support or run(at an accepable level) DirectX 9 (or if you want DirectX 10, most new games for Vista support this and some elite games only run in DirectX 10). DirectX 9 & 10 is the most common graphics platform for games. Macs don’t usually have powerfull graphics cards and may not support DirectX (especially before the intel Macs). Dont even think about gaming while windows is virtualised in OSX because it will eat up an enourmous ammount of RAM, your CPU and GPU/graphics memory. If you’re going to game with other PC gamers over a network/LAN it is best to network while in Windows (vice versa if possible, as long as everyone is on the same OS) unless the game supports multi OS networking.

in my opinion a PC is better suited for gaming, because there are way more game for windows and if you want a better graphics or performance you just need to upgrage the necessary parts whereas whith a Mac you need to throw out the whole thing and buy a new one (i know there is a Mac tower computer where it is customisable like a tower PC but $3000 is a ripoff, and thats just the base price).

Great idea for a Mac gaming cafe but my only concern is that you may not get many customers, it’s not everyday that you bump into someone who is passionate about gaming while on a Mac.

if you were wondering i use an iMac with Leopard and a HP with Vista.

Grant

When I went to college in 1987, my roommate brought to school a MacPlus. It was awesome, and when I was a Junior I finally bought my own mac, and used it until it finally became obsolete. When I finally bought my next computer, I had a hard choice – buy a superior machine for most purposes, or be able to game. I chose gaming and have bought PCs ever since. If Apple had games, I would have gone back to them long ago. Instead, I have put $10000 or so over the years into Dell instead. With the popularity of Apple on the rise again, and with my needing a new computer, I will seriously investigate the gaming options once again, but Apple has earned its reputation as being unfriendly in that realm. It’s kind of funny, I still say that Macs are better, people know I hate Windows, yet when it comes time to put the $$$ down, if I can’t play Bioshock or F.E.A.R on an Apple machine, back to Windows I go. Regretfully.

dan (a diff one)

Yeah, I just got a macbook. and the day i got it, i was obligated under contract to stop gaming. its just that simple. there is no selection at all. god i miss half life 2. but also, saying boot camp is making gaming on macs possible, thats like saying windows OS in the other room makes macs for gaming.

Michael

yea i need some help. i just got the macbook with the 64 mb of shared memory and i wanted to play maybe a couple games like counterstrike. how would it look on my macbook.

theShephard

I think the complaint with macs and gaming isn’t so much can you, but why would you want to. The hardware is more expensive to get similar performance in the games, and if you have to dual-boot your machine just to get to the table, then I’m afraid most people aren’t going to take it too seriously. Arguments about WinOS stability go out the window, because you are still running a Win OS.. on over-priced hardware. What’s the point of that?

As to one poster’s comments about complications of DX9, compatibility, etc., I think this speaks more about the user’s upgrade cycle more than the platform itself. For instance, DX compatibility issues come about because of outdated hardware. Seriously, in the mac world you have the same problems of newer, faster, better hardware shipping every 9-12 months. The incompatibilities with DX are just saying, your hardware is too old to run this game. The best games require bleeding(!!) edge consumer hardware, so either way, playing games requires a short upgrade cycle. Maybe the WinOS doesn’t tell you with a kiss, but it’s hardly an issue of unreliable hardware so much as old hardware. It does make me think that maintaining the requisite upgrade cycle with Mac hardware would be a far more expensive proposition than on the PC platform.

Anthony

John L. has a point. There is a higher capital cost to going all Mac for a game center, but in my experience you will save on total cost of ownership and maintenance. PCs are depreciate very quickly, but their total costs are spread out. Upfront, you will pay less; but then you must take on additional software to protect your investment, and that’s where the cost of owning a PC becomes higher than the cost of owning a Mac.

But the point of an all-Mac game cafe is not to just provide a neighborhood game center, but to advocate Macs as a gaming platform. It would be great if Apple would lend a hand to small businesses that are advocating Mac everywhere.

I don’t use game centers myself. What kinds of PCs do the owners use, over the counter brands, mail order, or custom high systems like Falcon NW or Voodoo PC?

Steve

“the first step of reducing launch costs would be to find the best, cheapest machines I could possibly buy”

But since cheap PCs don’t last very long, you’ll be spending just as money replacing them as you would if you bought Macs in the first place. Crappy power supplies and most other parts – the bane of cheap PCs.

Johan L.

Another point you all seem to be forgetting:

Apple hardware is a lot costlier than the bamboo-machines usually found in gaming cafés! I believe that if I were to start up a netcafé, the first step of reducing launch costs would be to find the best, cheapest machines I could possibly buy…and, sad to say (as a Mac user), this is not the forté of the Mac community.

So: while it would be an AWESOME looking and fantastic-to-use Mac-gaming café, the ROI would be pushed way, way, waaaay out into the future…and while CyberLAN seems to be doing fine, I don’t think this is true of all gaming cafés…

Anthony

I love Mac gaming for the performance and stability. I own Sim City 4 for both Windows and Mac. SC4 has always been sluggish on my P4 system, and every game I play sends the CPU’s fans spinning so loud that I think I’m gaming on the taxi course of a major airport. I like that the only sound I hear is the game itself and not my iBook G4.

Waiting a year or longer for a game that may never come is a pain. I guess this makes Macs a more elite gaming platform. With the exception of first-run Mac titles, we generally only get the best of the best titles from the PC world. As such, we don’t find ourselves standing at a crappy electronics store staring at a wall of redundant 2nd-rate knockoffs in search of that one gold standard release. The fact is, I have more confidence when buying Mac games than with PC games. I have some assurance that I am buying a game that was successful for one reason or another, and not a flop like many of the PC, C64, Amiga, and console games I’ve bought.

Kinda think of it, maybe I don’t want Macs to become too popular a gaming platform. ;-)

Jeni Sellers

I just recently switched from PCs to Macs, less than a montha go. I have wanted to get a mac for quite a while, but couldn’t afford it, until recently. I have a top of the line PC that is on par, in a sense, with the Powerbook that I had used all the time until I purchased my MacBook Pro. I used to have the same misconception about Macs not being as good for gaming as many do, but I can definatly say that my friends that had Powerbooks could run World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, etc. much better than I could on my PC. Now that I have my Macbook, I can not bring myself to game on a PC. When I would play World of Warcraft on my PC, it would freeze, lag, randomly shut down, et all. On my Macbook, I have had that issue only once, and that was because I was on a full server. Also, the sound and graphics are so much nicer on a mac. The first time that I exited out of World of Warcraft on my mac I was amazed. I clicked exit now, and it exited out immediately, no freezing, no lag, and no slow computer for a few mintes afterwards, trying to catch up. Gaming on a mac is amazing, and I understand that in that past, macs weren’t as good for gaming as a PC, but in the later models of computer, iBooks, iMacs, Powerbooks, Macbooks…Gaming is just as great and better. I ran through the biggest city on WoW, through the section that always lags the most, without any lag whatsoever on my mac, yet on my PC, or any PC, I would have serious lag issues, no matter my connection, the Brand of PC, or the quality. Mac is taking over tha gaming world, and once people start realizing this, mac will be even more up to date with getting tha games everyone loves, and they will have even more. Also, even though I refuse to use bootcamp, once that is out, you will be able to play any game that you want, including my personal favorite FPS, CounterStrike: Source, with no worries.

Steve

When ever people compare the number of Windoze games to the number of Mac games, I always recall the times I’ve looked through the Windoze game section in computer stores and am amazed by the overwhelming number of games that are pure crap and/or are cheap ripoffs of more popular games (that are available on both platforms). Simply put, using that as an argument for Windoze being a superior game platform is ludicrous.

Tim Coughlin

An Apple G5 can’t run boot camp. So surely they should put Intel iMacs into the hypothetical gaming cyber cafe?

weisheng

The Mac never gets sports games, that’s why I got a PS2. Wouldn’t leave the Mac simply for the sake of gaming. Just wish someone would port the Total War series over to the Mac, don’t see it happening now with the release of Boot Camp.

Todd Baur

I think it would be a great idea, but it would require careful execution to be a hit. When the Powermac gets updated, there is no doubt it will be one of the baddest systems on the market. As far as licensing costs and equipement, I would look into leasing it. You’re going to need the latest revs, a short refresh cycle, a lot of VC money, and minimal tech support. The lease option covers all of these things!

As far as the argument over Mac gaming, you have to realize it has nothing to do with quanity or platform at this stage. Most potential customers will seek out a specific game in mind, and those would probably be the top ten or fifteen games. That list is usually on both platforms, but your catch is picking which platform to license on.

Why not have your Macs on a Jekyll and Hyde schedule – when you need Windows for a tournament game, switch to the Windows partition and vice versa. It should be easy to manage with ARD 3 now to change back and forth, or even using WMI to change the startup disk.

Ryan

“I spent nearly 30 minutes looking for mac games, know what i found?”

At best buy? If you had read the article and the comments you would notice that you buy games for macs at the apple store and at a few well advertised websites (like aspyr). Best buy sucks anyway, like another comment pointed out – i dont really have an interest in 5 different deer hunting games, a bunch of cut-corners fps’ that never took off… I’ll take quality of quantity anyday. Civ4 and many of those other games on the top10 gamespot list are on their way soon, a little wait isn’t a big deal. There are entire COUNTRIES that dont even have access to xbox 360’s yet so gimme a break when you have to wait a few months for a brand new game.

DeMYSTiFieD

What you really want are Mac exclusives. Unfortunately, its tiny installed base isn’t very alluring.

justin

I can’t get behind the apologist logic. Why should a user – a consumer – want to have his cake and eat it to? Why would you not want to make a great product better? I’m not discussing the desire to make money playing games, I’m arguing for developers to extend the usefulness of my mac with current software. You can take it even further if you’d like… this is about growing the mac’s target market.

The past couple years have seen major changes that have leveled the playing field for apple… capable performace, a great OS, a apple-sanctioned 2-button mouse coming standard, and now the ability to run almost any major OS with ease. Why not squash the other criticism?

There’s no doubt that Boot Camp is great, I welcome the ability to boot into XP/Vista to test sites, open a client’s Publisher files, etc. It also allows me to get rid of the PC that I was planning on hanging onto to do those tasks. But in all honesty, rebooting to play a quick game and then rebooting to get back into the comfortable OS X environment, is more inconvenient than it could be. Not that it’s a huge chore, just that it could be easier.

I do plan to get the majority of my gaming on the console still, but there are some games that are inherently better on a computer due to the available input devices.

The mac is already a capable games machine, so your porsche analogy is flawed. There’s no need to change the aesthetics, alter it’s performance, or invest in additional hardware… only a need for an initiative by Apple and Devs.

David Dingley

iNotify (from Illume Software) is the name of a Desktop Button Application. Similar to the one used in the Apple Stores to display interactive buttons on the desktop. Perfect to control/limit what applications are run! Great for touch screens. They can’t be deleted or moved, very handy app.

Boot camp is a great help to those of us fighting to keep Mac in our work places. However some developers STILL haven’t converted all their applications from OS 9.

Game debats, gotta love’em. I’ve never know anyone making a living playing games. But games of distraction, that is totally different story. There are games aplenty for the Mac.

For hardcore gaming, stick to consoles they are built just for that purpose and you’ll get more for your money. And you’ll be far happier with the game selection if that is your goal! Honest truth! … After working at your computer all day, don’t you just want to get away? A different chair, a different screen (a change of scenes! )

Using your fancy G5 as a game console is like trying to make a Porsche into an off road all purpose vehicle. Sure, you can do it ….

justin

I don’t really think it did.

What I’d like to see is native mac support. Universal binaries so that I could play on my g5 imac. No need to reboot to play a game. And an easier process for the layman rather than fussing with installing windows, etc… that ease of use is, afterall, what the mac is all about, right?

I’m hoping what bootcamp proves is that there’s a large potential customer base on mac. Not windows-base large, but still a decent amount of money.

l0ne

You all know that the gaming argument became moot when Apple released Boot Camp, do you?

Dan

Dear Josh,

Go look at the pc games section at best buy.
I’m assuming you already have, well so have I.
I spent nearly 30 minutes looking for mac games, know what i found?
1 game, know what that game was?
Yup, you guessed it, WoW. Best selling game in the history of the world, or something right?
Know what else? It comes ready for pc and macs.
1 game out of hundreds, no exaggeration here.
So while you go find websites that scrape the bottoms of the ocean for mac titles from 96′. I’ll be playing with my motion sensor and nanosaur 2.

Dan Lurie

@justin, you did exactly what I was too lazy to do, thanks for backing up the argument.

@Tanner, first, a belated welcome to the TAB team. Secondly, I guess it depends on location and demographic of the city. I’ve been close with the owners of the ones that closed down, so I too knew the ins and outs.

Justin

You’re not taking into account the good games that macs aren’t getting, or aren’t getting until years later.

Let’s take a look at Gamespot’s current top 10:

1 Civilization IV score:9.4
2 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion score:9.3
3 Battlefield 2 score:9.3
4 Guild Wars score:9.2
5 F.E.A.R. score:9.1
6 Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords score:9.0
7 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas score:9.0
8 FIFA 06 score:8.9
9 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 score:8.9
10 Falcon 4.0: Allied Force score:8.9

I don’t see any of those in the Apple store.

And I’ll have you know that Oblivion is the best deer hunting game I’ve ever played ;)

Tanner Morrison

“Also, the decision to set up a gaming cafe is most certainly NOT good business sense. In the past 5 years, I have seen 3 different cafe’s open, and be forced to close due to lack of business. It’s simply a concept that bleeds money; constantly upgrading hardware to play the new games, licensing the new games, paying for bandwidth and utility bills, rent. All that, and the most people will ever pay is MAYBE $6-7 an hour. ”

The Cyberlan Cafe that I live near has been open near 4 years now, and is in no danger at all of being shut down. I am close wtih the owners, and I know for a fact that they are doing very well.

I agree that Mac games are no where near the selection of Windows games. But lets go to the nearest Circuit City and look at PC games, woo…it’s 4 different types of deer hunting games, oh man 7 different types of non-successful FPS and RPG games. Mac may not have as large of a selection, but it’s quality over quanity. They get the good games, I seriously doubt you’ll ever see someone playing Deer Hunt 4000 on a Mac.

Dan Lurie

When I switched to Mac, I stopped gaming. Now, don’t get me wrong, Mac’s certainly have the power, but anyone who says there is a sufficient selection of games for the Mac is fooling themselves. The fact is its just not cost effective for developers to make the effort of porting games over to OS X. Yes, there are SOME games for Mac, but compared to the PC gaming arena, they are few and far-between. Us Mac users usually have to wait a year or so for a port, if we’re lucky enough that the game we want DOES end up being ported. The switch to the x86 architecture is a boon for Mac gaming. Boot Camp only re-enforces this. Before the release of Boot Camp, i was perfectly happy with my PowerBook, but now there is a light at the end of the gaming tunnel, and it is the Mac Book Pro. Now, developers really have no reason at all to port games to OS X, and I’m OK with that.

Also, the decision to set up a gaming cafe is most certainly NOT good business sense. In the past 5 years, I have seen 3 different cafe’s open, and be forced to close due to lack of business. It’s simply a concept that bleeds money; constantly upgrading hardware to play the new games, licensing the new games, paying for bandwidth and utility bills, rent. All that, and the most people will ever pay is MAYBE $6-7 an hour.

Josh Pigford

Dan, knowing that your statement of there only being 2 games for macs is obviously an exaggeration…it’s still wrong. Ever checked out Aspyr? I just went to the Mac section of their site and did a rough count of over 120 games…and that’s just one company. Plus, those games are a large percentage of some of the major games out there. Also, “The Game Room” over at Macworld would also suggest there is a lot more going on with gaming in the Mac area than you seem to think.

So before you start making exaggerated claims, it might be a good idea to do a bit of research.

Ulf Hednar

I left the PC world for the Mac world so that I could game. With all the Windows problems with which version of DirectX or Direct3D, graphic cards that didn’t work with the OS, drivers that would work with some games but not with others, memory holes sucking away all my computer’s memory until the game would come to a grinding halt, bad sound, no sound, and all the time, time, time I spent just trying to get all my games to work without glitching up some other game I had installed. I’d had enough. And I’ll never go back. The Mac OS gaming world is a sweet one. I have over a 150 great games from old-school to state of the art 1st person shooters, like Quake 4. They all installed perfectly the first time, ran perfectly, and play nice together.

I think the all Mac gaming cafe would be a smart business to get into.

Dan

“I discussed how one of the misconceptions that I’ve seen about Macs is that you can’t game on them. This of course is entirely untrue; but for some reason, many people don’t beleive you can game on a Mac.”

serious?

No misconceptions here. You CAN’T game on a mac. But I’ve never heard anyone put the blame on the performance. The thing is there are, lets see, counting the games you mentioned. Plus add a few, what….2 games for mac’s?

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