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Glenda Adams Discusses Mac Gaming


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#1 IMG News

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 08:07 AM

A recent Business Week article examines the past and present of Mac gaming and suggests Apple should consider creating games of its own to reinvigorate the market. A large portion of the article is devoted to comments from Aspyr Media's Glenda Adams, discussing everything from Apple's level of focus on gaming to the impact of Boot Camp.

How many Mac developers does Aspyr have? Five who work full time. That's it. Why so small a team? Because, as Aspyr's Director of Development Glenda Adams told me, a successful Mac game might sell 50,000 units. It physically hurt my head to hear so low a number. My first question after hearing it was, "How do you do this profitably?" Her reply: "It's always been a razor-thin kind of thing."

Turns out, Mac users aren't really into games. That, or they just don't think of Macs as the machine they turn to for gaming. It's strange, since Macs have always been generally better at graphics, producing animation, editing sound, and so on. It would seem the Mac would be an ideal gaming environment. And yet the market indicates otherwise.

Maybe Apple's user base just isn't fully aware of great games that are now available for the Mac? Sure, there are games to be found at the Apple store, prominently displayed in the software section. But does Apple market the Mac as a gaming machine? Adams says it should. "The biggest thing that Apple could do is educate its users," she says. "Apple's message is so closely tied to iTunes and iLife and the iPod and these are all great selling points. We have a great relationship with Apple and they help us get the games ready. But we really need the users to meet us halfway, and only Apple can make that happen."
The rest of the article can be read at the Business Week site listed below.
Return to Full Article - InsideMacGames News


#2 nagromme

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 08:44 AM

In figuring out why "a successful Mac game might sell 50,000 units" and not more, I'm curious:

1. What is the number for a successful Windows version?

2. What is the installed base of home users (NOT business) using Macs vs. using Windows?

That would reveal whether Mac game sales are actually in proportion with user base or not. If sales ARE in proportion, then "Mac users aren't really into games" (on their Macs) isn't the problem. If they are not in proportion, then an interesting factor has emerged.

I've always read that Mac users buy more software per CPU than PC users--a good thing for developers in the Mac market--but if the reverse is true when it comes to games, that's interesting.

But if it's just that the installed base is smaller... that factor is steadily improving :)

PS, I must be lucky in the games I like... they always seem to make it to Mac. UT 2004 not only came to Mac but plays flawlessly against PC AND can use all the mods :) Now, the editing tools coming to Mac is another story...

PPS, I had no idea Jobs and Wozniak created Breakout! Father of a whole genre of games. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakout

#3 AlanH

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:27 AM

View PostIMG News, on June 2nd 2006, 03:07 PM, said:

Turns out, Mac users aren't really into games. That, or they just don't think of Macs as the machine they turn to for gaming. It's strange, since Macs have always been generally better at graphics, producing animation, editing sound, and so on. It would seem the Mac would be an ideal gaming environment. And yet the market indicates otherwise.

Macs have only been "better at graphics, producing animation, editing sound, and so on" at the top end of the product range, where prices are compatible with high performing creative businesses, not affordable by the mere mortals,  students and home users who make up the bulk of the PC game market.

Until recently, Macs have not come with high end graphics cards built in, and the options for upgrading have either been unavailable, in iMacs and laptops, or fiercely expensive because you needed the "Mac Edition". Mac users tend to hang onto their hardware for longer than their PC owning cousins - it's one of the ways to get the cost of ownership down to manageable levels. That means at any point in time the graphics capability of the "average Mac" is several years out of date anyway.

In contrast, PC users have always been able to buy the latest and greatest graphics cards at a reasonable price, they fit most PC boxes, and if today's laptop doesn't cut it then, hey, you'll be replacing it next month anyway, 'cos that's the way it is in PC-land.

#4 nagromme

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:35 AM

Good points, but I'd say it's even more complex that that: on the one hand you have compact all-in-ones being popular on the Mac side vs. everything being a tower on the PC side. And on the other hand you have a lot of PC tower owners who DO play games and COULD upgrade their machine's internals... but do not actually do so.

Also, note that Apple HAS bundled some great games with Macs, like Otto Matic and Nanosaur II. (This is not to say anything bad against board games ;) ) I'm not sure that Apple bundling a game they made themselves would stimulate interest significantly more than the Pangea games have.

(And of course, being on a Mac game site, my own biased impression is that there's a LOT of interest in Mac gaming.)

#5 AlanH

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:42 AM

View Postnagromme, on June 2nd 2006, 04:35 PM, said:

And on the other hand you have a lot of PC tower owners who DO play games and COULD upgrade their machine's internals... but do not actually do so.
But at least they can, and they do when that's the only way to meet the lastest uber-requirements for a TBS game :P Mac users, on the other hand typically need to replace their entire system to play Civ4. Makes for a rather expensive game, I feel.

#6 krex725

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:59 AM

View PostAlanH, on June 2nd 2006, 10:42 AM, said:

But at least they can, and they do when that's the only way to meet the lastest uber-requirements for a TBS game :P Mac users, on the other hand typically need to replace their entire system to play Civ4. Makes for a rather expensive game, I feel.

It's funny you said that, because when COD came out for Mac I replaced my G3 just to play it.  When COD:UO came out, I bought a G5 just to be able to play it better.  In anticipation of COD2 I just upgraded to an ATI x800.  Yeah, I'm kinda hooked.  

Of course those upgrades improved other aspects of my daily use, but seriously, those were my primary motives when I clicked "enter" on the purchase screens.  :P

#7 jeffbax

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 10:16 AM

Reason's that Mac gaming sucks.

1) having to wait 6 months - 1 year to get the game
2) only getting the big name titles
3) game sales suffer too... takes long, but 50,000 is  CRAP.  Steel Battalion the $200 niche Xbox Mech game sold way more than that.  Big name PC games sell millions, Half-Life franchise sales are some 30 million?
4) buying a separate Mac version SUCKS.
5) hardware sucks.  PowerPC was slow as a dog for YEARS, all games are tweaked for x86, porting hit or miss.  video options with apple also suck (such as why my Core Duo iMac has to be an X1600 Mobility (probably because its basically a MacBook Pro with a different shell to save costs for Apple... but sad you can't pick anything other than amount of ram on the card and that is usually trivial and makes no difference in game cause you are either bottlenecked by the GPU speed so the ram requirements of higher resolutions etc are moot anyway - or you can't go with say a 7600 mobility which spanks the poo out of an X1600)

There are tons of reasons.

I think the time to port is the biggest one though, that and separate versions.  Blizzard games have huge success for being day one on both and only one version to have to buy.

#8 OverLoad

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 10:21 AM

View Postnagromme, on June 3rd 2006, 12:35 AM, said:

Good points, but I'd say it's even more complex that that: on the one hand you have compact all-in-ones being popular on the Mac side vs. everything being a tower on the PC side.
It's true that non-professional Mac users have generally tended to prefer low-end models with integrated monitors, such as the iMac. But to characterize PCs as "everything being a tower" strikes me as a bit of an oversimplification. There are plenty of low-end PCs (mini-towers and integrated iMac wannabees that use a built-in graphics chip on the motherboard) that really can't play games very well at all.

I think you had it right in your first post: the writer's statement that "Mac users aren't into games" isn't valid unless the proportion of Mac users who play games is significantly less than the corresponding proportion of PC users. Of course, PC users who are into games may tend to buy towers that can be upgraded, but you won't get a meaningful comparison if you don't include all PC users in the comparison.

I point this out because it's always seemed to me that the sort of people who troll the internet with flame bait such as "Macs suck for gaming, get a PC" frequently compare the performance of the lower-end Apples (such as the iMac) with highly game-specific (often self-built) PC hardware. This comparison is so ridiculous that I don't know why they do it. I suppose they want to say it's possible to build a decent gaming machine from parts for less than you'd pay for an iMac.

Well, that may be so (I've never found this to be the case, but I've always spent a lot of money on the very latest components: $500 for a graphics card, and so on), but the truth is that the proportion of PC users who build their own computers are a rather small minority of all PC users. And as a minority, they probably don't figure very heavily in the marketing decisions made by game publishers. (Which is by way of being an oblique reply to the previous thread regarding the high requirements Aspyr has publicized for CivIV.)

#9 iRolley

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:07 PM

Is it really so bad ?

To me since the days of Broderbund's Ancient Art of War Mac Gaming had never been better. That's from a user perspective though, publishers might think otherwise.

With all this negativity here are positive point:

1- the intel iMac comes with a very capable GPU, the Radeon X1600:
-- you don't need to buy an overpriced tower to properly play games
-- and the demography of mac users with a capable gaming computer will increase.
2- windows games are already optimized for intel CPU. So ports' performance tweaks should be easier.
3- We got a bunch of great games. Doom3, Quake4, CoD2, Civ4, the Sims, Warcaft3, WoW... It is a bit like seeing the cup as half empty or half full. I remember when UT and Quake3 came out these were pretty much my only options. I wasn't even looking at PC games with a hope someone would port them over!
4- Apple is slowly realizing the potential. On the web pages for the iMac and the MacBook Pro performance is also mesured using Doom3, and the graphics capability are showcased using Games (Doom3, WoW...)

The reasons why Macs don't sell a lot of Games is become nobody make enough publicity about it. Just putting the Mac logo on the add of COD 2 in a Gaming magazine (where you see the logo for PC, XBox, PS3... but never Mac) would help and Apple needs to bundle game demos with its boxes.

I believe the important pieces are there. Apple just needs to make a an effort.

#10 Whaleman

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:31 PM

View PostiRolley, on June 2nd 2006, 08:07 PM, said:

1- the intel iMac comes with a very capable GPU, the Radeon X1600

I'd say that "very capable" is kind of relative here. Compared to what has been put into iMacs before, then yes it's a really good card. Compared to the full card market it's classed as a mid-range product. The X1600 is as a great leap forward for "casual" mac gaming as the integrated Intel graphics in the Mac mini and MacBook is a leap backwards. Especially the MacBook can be a big blow against Mac gaming since it has such a wonderful price point for a dual-booting capable portable machine, and such an abyssmal graphics chip that it will be practically useless for any tripple-A 3D game released the past years. This will decrease the proportion of new Mac owners that will even be able to buy new games at all pretty much, since Apple lives on its portables, and the low end machines always have sold like crazy, and the MacBook will probably be no exception.

I've seen good times and I've seen bad times of Mac gaming, and currently we're in a new low. We always manage to crawl up from the ashes though. People will always want native Mac games to not have to taint our machines with Windows to play games.. not to speak of limit our hardware space on portables that are limited to 2.5" drives at max 120GB at the moment. Having to fill it with Windows just to have a game or two there isn't an option for many of us. The hope is that Boot Camp will actually bring us more Mac users that will end up wanting good Mac versions of the games. Switching seems to be popular right now as even the long time game fanatics at Penny Arcade has gotten themselves Macs and crave for Mac native versions of the games they play.

Since I've forgotten completely what it was that I wanted to say I think I just might end it here with my own view of it all: As long as there's Mac native gaming, I will be there to support it.
You shouldn't ask yourself such worthless questions. Aim higher. Try this: why am I here? Why do I exist, and what is my purpose in this universe?

(Answers: 'Cause you are. 'Cause you do. 'Cause I got a shotgun, and you ain't got one.)

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#11 iEvan

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 02:10 PM

Check out the analysis section of http://mmogchart.com/.

Quote

As of May 2006, 92.6% of the market falls into the category of fantasy RPG; 4.7% in sci-fi RPG (including superheroes), 0.6% in combat simulation / FPS, and 2.1% in the social / other category.

92% into RPG?! That's incredible!

So my question would be that since World of Warcraft seems to be a smash success (6.5 million subscribers worldwide) and is Mac compatible... what are the number of Mac users playing that game? It has to be worth Blizzard's while since they are continuing support with it.

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#12 Ari

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 02:25 PM

One more point why Mac games might sell poorly is that the Mac games are definately not that easy to purchase. OK, I don't know how it is in the USA or the rest of the world either, but at least here in Finland there are very limited amount of stores that actually sell Mac games. And if you find such a store their selection of games is quite limited and the prices are pretty steep (compared to what international net stores ask).

So, you basically need to have a credit card to be able to buy a Mac game. Not all have it - especially the younger people. And when you buy it from the internet, you'll get shipping and handling costs, VAT and possibly customs fees on top of the store price. I've payed more than double the original price in some cases.

On the other hand you can find pretty much every PC game that you can think of and they are conveniently selling them in every supermarket, book store, computer store,... Prices are relatively low and when the game has been on the shelf for a couple of months it ends up in the bargain bin. Never seen that happen to a Mac game.

From my point of view, it's no wonder Mac games are selling poorly, alas!

#13 iRolley

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 02:44 PM

View PostWhaleman, on June 2nd 2006, 12:31 PM, said:

Especially the MacBook can be a big blow against Mac gaming since it has such a wonderful price point for a dual-booting capable portable machine, and such an abyssmal graphics chip that it will be practically useless for any tripple-A 3D game released the past years. This will decrease the proportion of new Mac owners that will even be able to buy new games at all pretty much, since Apple lives on its portables, and the low end machines always have sold like crazy, and the MacBook will probably be no exception.

Quote

So, you basically need to have a credit card to be able to buy a Mac game. Not all have it - especially the younger people. And when you buy it from the internet, you'll get shipping and handling costs, VAT and possibly customs fees on top of the store price. I've payed more than double the original price in some cases.

Both of you are definitely right.

I though I would have something to add... but I don't :mellow:

#14 calroth

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 05:55 PM

View Postjeffbax, on June 3rd 2006, 02:16 AM, said:

I think the time to port is the biggest one though, that and separate versions.  Blizzard games have huge success for being day one on both and only one version to have to buy.
Don't overestimate its effects on Blizzard.

Now Blizzard might not have "razor-thin" margins on their Mac products, but they're certainly not raking in the cash from the Mac version either. You could probably call it a nice earner on the side, and certainly justified from a business perspective. But a "huge success" on the Mac isn't even a blip on their radar.

With those complaints that Mac ports always lag the PC version by 6 months...

Keep in mind that the 6 months to get a port done isn't all technical. A lot of time gets tied up negotiating licenses, negotiating licenses for middleware, securing the source code and assets. etc. etc. etc. They're lucky if this starts before the PC version is out the door.

Once you're starting the port, it's not really something you can throw more developers at to get done faster. Sure, put all five developers on one port, get it done in four months instead of six. How many more sales would that really get you?

#15 teflon

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 06:44 PM

I think that the main problem is that the negotiating only starts once the PC version is out of the door. A good success story of doing this well in advance in Deus Ex, where it was a surprise to the mac community that it was released very soon after the PC version. But in todays climate, Aspyr is needing the sure fire hits more than anything else, and so is waiting for the final game to be released, so that they can evaluate it, look at the tech behind it etc. etc.

and if you look in the CoD2 thread at the moment, aspyr is having difficulty getting the patch source code of Infinity Ward to port it and release the 1.2patch with SMP. So its not all the negotiating, but a hint of reluctance of selling the port off, especially now that Boot Camp is there, and the devs/publishers can see extra sales for themselves by not allowing the port of their AAA game.

and you dont necessarily need a Credit Card anymore. MacGameStore is asking for Paypal too, which means that anyone with a card of any description can purchase stuff from there. But then again, that is from America... and shipping can be quite high.
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#16 Aika

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 07:10 PM

There is an awful lot of pessimism. The games might be more expensive, less available and there is less choice but every game I have bought so far has run on my iMac without problems. My PC was no slouch but I had more than my fair share of in-game crashes and bullpopsnizzle driver issues. It is so nice to be able to have a game arrive through the letterbox, popping the disk in and then logging onto Macgamefiles for the latest patch whilst the game installs, knowing that I won't come across random crashes then not being able to alt-tab out or make the ctrl-alt-del window visible, meaning the only resort is a reboot (this happened with HL2 Episode 1 last night).

I think the big problems (apart from licensing fees) are Havok and Bittorrent. Not having Half-Life 2 is a massive loss that puts off a lot of gamers from switching (and subsequently spending money on other OS X games) and the majority of computer gamers pirate their games taking a big slice out of potential sales (bittorrent has made it too easy).
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#17 GlendaAdams

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 07:13 PM

View PostAika, on June 2nd 2006, 06:10 PM, said:

I think the big problems (apart from licensing fees) are Havok and Bittorrent. Not having Half-Life 2 is a massive loss that puts off a lot of gamers from switching (and subsequently spending money on other OS X games) and the majority of computer gamers pirate their games taking a big slice out of potential sales (bittorrent has made it too easy).

Piracy is a big problem.  A recent game we released has 5 to 6 times as many downloads of the patch as units we've sold.  Now I know every pirated copy isn't someone who was going to buy the game, but say even 20% of them were- that would double the sales of this particular game instantly.  Thats pretty sad :(

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#18 Zorcky

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 02:09 AM

Why don't we see some demo's of new Mac Games on a new Mac?
Maybe this will help Mac users to see what gaming is on a Mac.

Apple must do more for Mac Games!
It looks like they ignore us.
Hey Dutch Mac Gamers, take a look at here!

#19 teflon

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 03:55 AM

The way I see it, there only a few ways to avoid piracy, and all of them are risky for business. The first is to lower the price point. Even just dropping $5 makes buying the real game that bit more attractive and accessible, of course, $10 would be even better. But also introducing a kind of bargain bin scheme where the games gradually depreciate in cost over time, say $10 every 4 months or something (depending on the sales of that game Sims2 would not go as cheap as quickly).

The second way is to increase the copy protection, but then you achieve alienating those people that do buy the game, cos they have to put in the DVD every time etc.etc. Though its very good that youve managed to get the game to detect if the DVD is copied or not... The way around that would be to only need the DVD every few launches, lets say 10. So every 10 it asks for the DVD to be put in, and as soon as the DVD has been put in and verified, it gets ejected again. This would be pretty ideal, cos then you dont always need the DVD, you can go on holiday and have games which are newly enabled and just play them a few times staying within the limit.

Also, make multiplayer work without the DVD if theres a separate app for the multiplayer, even if this isnt a feature on the PC version.

if you did all of that, youd be my favourite person ever!
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#20 OverLoad

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 06:14 AM

View Postteflon, on June 3rd 2006, 06:55 PM, said:

The second way is to increase the copy protection, but then you achieve alienating those people that do buy the game, cos they have to put in the DVD every time etc.etc.
I have never been bothered by a game requiring me to put in a disk. I understand the company's need to protect their product; and since I want them to keep publishing the games that I enjoy playing, I have no problem with their taking measures to protect their profit margin, so long as those measures are not invasive. I would not be happy if they had their game phoning home and transmitting information from my computer, for example; but putting a disk in the drive is not a very difficult thing to do.