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Game Developers React To Intel Switch
June 6, 2005 | Tuncer Deniz

Brian Greenstone - Pangea Software: Once Windows runs natively on a Mac there won't be any reason for publishers to make Mac-specific versions of their warez anymore. It's going to totally kill the Mac game porting industry and probably have serious implications on original content developers like me.

If they can make VirtualPC work in emulation they can figure out a way to make something similar run natively or at least fast enough to work. VirtualPC is already fast enough for most non-performance applications (heck I use it myself a lot for my Scuba and GPS software). But with Native Intel execution, it'll be very, very fast.

Andrew Welch, Ambrosia Software: It's interesting to say the least. I think it may end up being a good move long-term, but every transition they've done, they have lost developers, and lost a number of programs that developers never bother to port/recompile.

If there was ever a time for them to do the transition, though, it's now. Macs are on the upswing, attracting a lot of attention, the iPod is selling like gangbusters, and Windows users are fed up with spyware/viruses, etc. The interesting thing to me is that the transition will be happening while Microsoft is in the middle of releasing Longhorn.

That could either be an excellent opportunity or a PR nightmare where
Apple is drowned out by the Windows PR machine. Time will tell.

If you can run Windows games on a Mac, will it kill Mac gaming and the need for ports? Yes and no. If you have a machine that will dual-boot under Windows, it's certainly possible that some people who might not have purchased a Mac due to lack of games (or what have you) may now do so. They will be able to dual-boot the machine.

This may result in developers not wishing to spend the money to port games to the Mac, certainly. But people who prefer one platform over the other will always rather not have to dual-boot, just as folks still clamor for native Linux games, despite the dual-booting ability.

Anonymous Porter: This is the death of the platform. Unless Apple integrates DirectX, the port time would only decrease by roughly 33%. We really only spend about a 1/3 of our times AT MOST on Endian issues (ie, byte-swapping). The rest of the time is spent converting DX and Windows OS calls to OpenGL and Mac OS.

The big problem is that for the next few years, developer time will increase. You now have to make sure the software runs on two completely different architecture sets. We'll still have to do all the byte-swapping mess for the older PPC Macs. So say a game today takes 12 months to port. That time will be increased to probably 14-16 months, simply on the basis of having to do additional testing and debugging on the Intel architecture.

The margins for game ports today are already very, very small. Anything that adds development time is a bad idea.

Who's going to buy a Mac now? Apple has effectively just deemed their entire product line obsolete.

Aaron Fothergill, Strange Flavour: Our future Mac games are using XCode at the moment, so shouldn't be too much of an issue technically and as the phase in will take until the end of 2007 (and PPC apps should work on the new IntelliMacs anyway) it's not something we need to put a lot of dev time into at the moment.

Brad Oliver, Aspyr Media: I'm in total shock right now. It sure sounds like this new Mac is going to be x86-based rather than a different Intel chip. If so, it's hard for me to see that porting companies will have much to offer once the inevitable Win32 virtual machines get released.

It seems so inevitable that a decent Win32 virtual box will come along, and that will surely spell doom for any Mac-specific ports of not only games but major products. I think Apple bought time with Adobe and Microsoft committing to OSX-on-intel, but once that time is up, there's not going to be anything keeping them around on OSX, IMHO.

Running windows on a Mac pretty much eliminates the need for Mac ports of PC software.

Anonymous Developer: it all depends on WINE and the ability to run PC games on the Mac. it could cut the heart out of the Mac game business.

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