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State of the Game
March 5, 2004 | Tuncer Deniz

There are some emails that seem to drop into our mailboxes over and over here at Inside Mac Games. Some of them are quite unique while others tend to ask the same questions over and over and over. Check out some of the ones we tend to get almost on a daily basis.

Question: WHY hasn't Game X come out for the Mac?

Answer: We get this one a lot. First off, if a game hasn't been announced for the Mac, you can bet we're not going to tell you. We have the privilege of knowing ahead of time what games are going to be announced soon. But emailing us about if Game X is coming out is, well, totally useless. Over the years we've developed strong relationships with Mac game publishers and we simply can't "spill the beans".

Now, as to WHY Game X isn't coming out for the Mac? Why hasn't Battlefield 1942 come out for the Mac? Why hasn't Grand Theft Auto come out for the Mac? And on and on.

Well, there are lots of varying reasons why a game might not make it to the Mac. Here's a few reasons why:

Economics: Most Mac games are ported over if the publisher feels it makes financial sense. How much is it going to cost to port it to the Mac? How much will we make? How much do we have to pay the PC publisher for the rights? In many cases, these factors alone decide if a Mac game is ported.

The Developer: Some developers think their code is so precious and groundbreaking, they refuse to let outside porting houses have it. Without the PC code, a Mac port isn't possible. There is one game that will soon be announced that had this problem. The developer initially refused to give up the Mac rights because they wanted to protect their code. Now after a year or so of intense negotiations, that game is finally coming out for the Mac. Sorry, folks, I can't say what game that is just yet. But hey, stay tuned to IMG!

PC Sales: Since the Mac market is relatively small, only the top-tiered games make it to the Mac. The theory is that if a PC game sells well, it should also sell well on the Mac. Games that bomb on the PC usually don't make it over to the Mac.

The PC Publisher: And finally, there's the X factor. Some PC publishers are simply not interested in having their games ported to the Mac.

Question: WHEN is Game X coming out for the Mac?

Answer: Ok, I hate this one. It gets worse when people get angry about the fact that Game X is "taking way too long" to come to the Mac. Then there's the threat of not buying the game even when it comes out.

Porting games to the Mac is not trivial and there are lots of challenges that porting houses face. So, folks, give the publishers a break. They want to get Mac games out as soon as possible. It's in their best interest to release games as close to the PC release.

Question: Why does Mac game X run so slowly! Publisher X sucks! I'll never buy another game from them again!

Answer: This one fills up my In Box all the time. Here's the simple truth. Your Mac is too slow to run Game X. In recent years, gaming has moved forward in terms of graphics, sound, and gameplay while Macs have remained, well, stagnant and slow.

Now, that seems to be changing a bit now with the release of the G5 processor, which brings it more inline with Intel's current offerings. Today's PC games are made to run on the top end hardware and until recently, Macs simply couldn't compete.

Imagine trying to drive a a Ferrari (Game X) with only a 4-cylinder motor (G4 processor). It may look great from the outside, but once you start driving the car, you're going to be disappointed.

Now, that's not to say that Mac gamers don't have a right to bitch about system requirements. Publishers sometimes tend to low ball their system requirements and when the consumer makes a purchase decision based on the system requirements on the box, then I do believe the game should at least run at an acceptable performance rate.

Question: Why are Mac games more expensive than PC games?

Answer: This is a tough one. But let's explore it a bit. First off, since there's way more competition on the PC, retailers tend to discount their PC game offerings a lot more. Retailers such as CompUSA will often sell games as "loss leaders" to bring in customers to the store. The idea here, of course, is if they came to buy the game, they'll buy something else, like a new computer.

Another reason is sheer volume on the PC side. The average shelf life of a PC game is much less than on the Mac side so items tend to get discounted faster on the PC side. It's not unusual to see a Triple AAA title on the PC side to go from $49.99 to $29.99 in a matter of months. On the Mac side, a title can be at $49.99 for 6 months to a year.

Another reason Mac games tend to be more expensive is the run to profits. A Mac game publisher has to pay for the rights to get the game, then port it over, and then finally market it. In such a small market, every penny counts and Mac publishers need to make a profit or bust.

Question: Mac game X crashes all the time. The game has been out for months and they still haven't released a patch for it! What should i do?

Answer: Good question. Some publishers are pretty good about fixing bugs while others simply release a game and forget about it. Nothing is more frustrating than buying a game that crashes all the time.

So what should you do? First, contact the publisher about your problem. Send in specific bug reports. Again, some publishers are pretty good about responding to feedback and bug reports while others are not.

If a publisher doesn't fix their bugs, then you can bet their future releases will also be buggy. Show your support for publishers who are responsive to your needs and your problems. Publishers who fix their bugs deserve your business. Those who don't, don't.

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