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Macworld Expo Wrap-Up Report
January 11, 2002 | Tuncer Deniz
Pages:12


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GraphSim's Jeff Morgan woos a potential customer with Altoids

The Gaming Companies
As previously mentioned, all the Mac gaming companies were out in full force at the show.

Although MacSoft didnít have any new announcements, the company did manage to ship Civilization III and Myth III: The Wolf Age, to the delight of many Mac gamers who lined up to get their hands on these new titles.

Aspyr was also having a good show. Tons of people crowded to watch and play Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Harry Potter, and Otto Matic. The company also announced that it had signed two new titles: 4x4 Evolution 2 and Star Wars Battlegrounds with more on the way. Could Jedi Knight 2 be on the way? When asked the Aspyr folks went deadly silent. HmmÖ

GraphSim shipped Black & White at the show and it quickly became a fast seller. They were also selling Red Faction, Sheep, Summoner, and F/A-18 Korea Gold (yes, still!).

Destineer was showing of Age of Empires II and the upcoming Links Championship Edition. Although Peter Tamte didnít have new any announcements at the show, I got the feeling from him and other people at the show that Tamte and company have some new Mac titles in the pipeline.

And then thereís MacPlay. In addition to Aspyr, MacPlay was the only other company that had two new announcements. At 2 PM on Wednesday, MacPlay announced that it would be publishing Aliens vs Predator 2. It wasnít a big shocking announcement, but then again the hype building up to the unveiling was fun. It turns out that the big shocker was MacPlayís announcement that it would be producing OS X only titles from now on.

Many had their heads shaking, including myself. How could a game company ignore the 70 percent (some estimates I heard) of users who still use Mac OS 9? MacPlayís argument was simple. If it only developed OS X titles, it could potentially shave months off development times. Some of the developers I talked to said that developing Mac OS 9 AND OS X is painless and had deep reservations about MacPlayís move.

Iíll give MacPlay credit for having the guts to do something like that. But from a business standpoint, I donít want to see MacPlay potentially losing thousands in sales because of this decision. Itíll be interesting to see how this pans out.

Everyone was tickled pink to see NC Soft showing off Lineage at the show. I was equally impressed by seeing Sonyís Station at the show. During our meeting with Sony representative, he seemed to be so impressed with Macworld and the response they were getting, that he hinted that more Sony titles could make their way to the Mac. Could PlanetSide be coming to the Mac? Everquest? More hmmsÖ.

Having NC Soft and Sony at the Apple games booth sent a clear signal: Apple is concentrating on online gaming so donít be surprised to see more online games coming in the future. And alternatives to GameRanger could just be around the corner as well.

Too Much of a Good Thing?
In recent years gaming companies have pretty much been concentrating on bring ďAĒ titles to the Mac. ďAĒ titles have the best chance of selling well on the Mac and provide a risk buffer for Mac gaming companies. But in recent months these same gaming companies have had to bring some ďBĒ titles to the Mac, which brings me to my next point. Could the Mac games market be at a saturation point?

One of the things thatís been bothering me lately is this nasty trend of shipping games without multiplayer support. The economics of the trend are understandable. Only 10 percent of people who buy a game that has multiplayer play the game online. So the argument for excluding multiplayer from the initial release version makes a lot of economic sense, especially for some of the smaller game companies.

But thereís no doubt in my mind that this trend could continue if the game companies think it becomes ďsafeĒ to do it. And that, my friends, would be a bad thing. It would put a black eye on Mac games and thatís just something we donít want to happen.

Although I canít prove it statistically, it seems to me that these days many Mac games are bug ridden. More Mac games are coming out than ever before, and it seems to me that some Mac gaming companies simply donít have the resources to deal with it.

Next Up: New York
Donít think for a second Iím going to end this article on a down note. Mac gaming companies have battled through the good times and the bad times to stay alive, and to bring us great titles.

As evidenced by this Macworld Expo, Macintosh games are not only alive but kicking. Itís really awesome to see Apple supporting Macintosh games, itís great to see all the Mac gaming companies shipping great titles, and itís great to see Mac gamers buy them.

Weíll see ya at Macworld Expo in New York in July.



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