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One Million Reasons Why Half-Life 2 Isn't on the Mac

So I read the interview with Valve's Gabe Newell where he puts all the blame for the lack of Half-Life 2 on the Mac because of Apple (you can read the interview at kikizo.com). While I have no doubt that Newell has a few valid points about Apple's lack of focus when it comes to games, the real reason Half-Life 2 never made it to the Mac is because of Newell's outrageous asking price for the Mac port.

Here's a bit of history. A few months before Half-Life 2 came out, I sent a short but sweet letter to Newell asking about Half-Life 2 for the Mac. He responded by saying that no one at Apple had contacted them about doing Half-Life 2 for the Mac. So naturually, I fired off an email to Steve Jobs about this. I basically told him that if Apple had to have one must game on the platform that year, it would have to be Half-Life 2.

Within a day or so I got a call from one of Apple's developer relations manager who said my email to Jobs had made some kind of impact because Jobs forwarded the email to developer relations and told them to get on it. At some point Apple did meet with Newell, but I guess nothing came of it except that the project never could take off because of Valve's insistence that anyone who wanted to port Half-Life 2 to the Mac had to advance $1 million to Valve. That's right, that's $1,000,000. That might be peanuts to someone like Valve, but no Mac publisher in their right mind would have given Valve that kind of money just for the rights to publish Half-Life 2 for the Mac.

In the interview Newell says, "OK, here are three things you (Apple) could do to make that better". When I read this I thought to myself...what three things would Gabe Newell want to convince him? What does he want...better tools? Better distribution? Better presence in retail? Or was it simply #1: money, #2: more money, and #3: even more money!

Let's not mince facts here...the Mac is NOT a great gaming platform. There are a lot of drawbacks to it. It's a rather small market. Apple has one or two people at the company concentrating on Mac games (which is pathetic). The consoles are leaving computer gaming in the dust. There are a lot of factors that make the Mac an unattractive platform for gaming.

That said, the Mac's market share is improving and there are companies making money on the Mac. The Aspyrs of the world and new comers such as TransGaming and their Cider portability technology make the possibility of making a profit in Mac gaming "possible".

The reality of it is that you aren't going to be swimming in pools of dollars publishing games on the Mac and I guess that's the only thing Newell had in his mind when he nixed the idea of Half-Life 2 for the Mac. Either he got his million dollar advance or, screw it, it's not worth it. At least, brother, tell people the truth about why Half-Life 2 never made it to the platform the next time you rag on Mac gaming. There are exactly 1 million reasons...

Posted on October 4, 2007 at 1:14 pm | 44 Comments

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