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Boot Camp: Installation and Implications
June 29, 2006 | Michael Kottler

If the idea of running Windows games natively on Intel-based Macs sounds controversial, that's because it is. Recent articles such as Peter Cohen's Boot Camp: Good For Mac Gaming? (Macworld, April 7, 2006) and IMG's own Game Developers React To Intel Switch (Deniz, June 6, 2005) suggest that the advent of easy-to-configure dual-boot OS X / Windows Macs represents a volatile Pandora's Box with the potential to both help and harm the Mac gaming community.

There is concern within the Mac gaming industry that Windows running well on Apple machines will destroy the market for development. As Glenda Adams of Aspyr Media says, "It could have a pretty serious effect on native Mac gaming, especially in the hard core gaming space" (ibid). Of primary concern is the idea that if too many gamers cease purchasing the Mac version of games in favor of the PC version (which almost always ships prior to the Mac version), there will not be enough money in it for game developers to bother porting to OS X.

Epic Games' Ryan Gordon paints a rosier picture of the Windows-on-Mac scenario, saying that dual-boot Macs will "be a huge win...both in terms of developer expertise and end-user performance." His position is that since so many games are initially created for machines running x86 processors, porting becomes much easier, and the potential market is increased.

With so many differing opinions even among industry insiders, creating an accurate appraisal of things to come seems daunting. Cliché as it sounds, only time will tell. In the meantime, the core issues at the heart of the dual-boot controversy are summarized nicely in the following paragraph from Brock Kyle at EveryMac.com:

If you are a Mac gamer, and you have purchased a Windows version of a game to run on your Intel-based Mac, it seems doubtful that you would purchase the Mac "port" when it is released several months later. Optimists are hopeful that this will lead to more Mac and Windows versions of games being released simultaneously, whereas pessimists fear that it will be the end of the Mac gaming market entirely. (Why run Windows on the Mac, April 20, 2006)

Whether you are for or against playing PC games on an Intel Mac, the process of doing so has become much easier with the release of Apple's Boot Camp. And on a visceral level, that seems like a good thing.

Honestly; who among us hasn't secretly craved the ability to play games on our Macs unhindered by inconvenient OS restrictions? Despite many years of preference for and loyalty to Apple's OS and family of PPC-based systems, many hardcore Mac gaming enthusiasts are no doubt wondering with almost perverse excitement what it would be like to play certain kick-arse PC-only games (Star Wars Republic Commando comes immediately to mind) and expansions not on a friend's Windows PC, but on their own awesome Intel-based Mac. The mass appeal of Macs that are capable of booting into either Windows or OS X is undeniable. As Arik Hesseldahl says in Byte of the Apple (Business Week Online, November 01, 2005):

I don't know that I would want to buy a Dell machine running the Mac OS, but I certainly would buy—and indeed pay extra for—a Mac that boots to both the Mac OS and Windows, and runs both natively without compromising on performance.

I've been using a Mac almost as long as there's been Macs, and never owned a PC running Windows until necessity forced me to buy one...I'm sure there are a lot of people who jump back and forth from one environment to the other. I also live in Manhattan, and so space at home is at a premium. Give me two computers—one a Mac, the other Windows—crammed into a single box, and operating off a single monitor, and I'll be pretty happy.


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