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Thirteen Years of Mac Gaming
August 15, 2007 | David Peck

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Come Fly With Me
I have an affinity for flying and soon after acquiring the Mac Performa, my office became a de facto flight sim center. Although not the most popular genre on the Mac (as well as the PC), they provided years of enjoyment. My list of favorite flight sims follows. Release dates in some cases are approximate:

Chuck Yeager Air Combat(1991)
F-117 Stealth Fighter(1991)
Dog Fight City(1993)
A-10 Cuba(1996)
Sky Fighters(late 1990s)
Fighter Squadron: Screaming Demons over Europe(1998)
Flying Nightmares(1998)
Falcon 4.0(1998)
X-Plane(1999.) Note: Continues to be developed- IMG X-Plane 8 Review.

For an excellent classic flight sim reference go to: and see IMG's 1996 Flight Sim Roundup for links to currently available Mac flight sims. Although all are notable titles, I rank them as follows:

Most Solo Fun- F/A-18 and Flying Nightmares.
Most LAN Fun (Local Area Network)- Chuck Yeager Air Combat, Don Hill's Sky Fighters, and Warbirds (using the off-server 1v1 mode which to my knowledge was dropped in later versions.)
Most Online Fun- The years I spent flying Warbirds with my son on my wing.
Most Fun In a Civil Aircraft Simulation- Without doubt, X-Plane. It's hard to beat a Space Shuttle approach starting at 400,000'.
Best WWII Flight Models-Warbirds.
Most Realistic and Demanding Flying Experience- Falcon 4.0.

The Thirty Year Storm
With so much fun to be had, what worries could a Mac gamer have? Well if you know anything about a Mac you probably know Apple Computer was created in 1976 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and you know that the original Mac went retail in 1984 with a brilliant commercial first shown at that year's Super Bowl. Since the beginning, the Mac has had its ups and downs as a computer and as a gaming platform. For such a brilliant design, marketing and poor choices in hardware design did not serve Apple well. Jobs knew that software would make or break the Mac, and therefore he established what was to become an infamous one-sided deal with the company destined to become the Evil Empire, sending them a couple of test Macs in a relationship where most of the benefits flowed away from Apple. Didn't they know that Chancellor Palpatine was really the Sith Lord Darth Sideious? Ok, so this is a worn out analogy, but the point is made. Plus Macs were expensive. The philosophy of a proprietary Operating System on proprietary hardware seemed like a weak strategy as The Evil Empire gained momentum while the Mac's market share was relatively stagnant. As Mac gamers were busy fraging each other, Apple was fraging itself with the ouster of Steve Jobs (1985), followed by weak leadership, lack of vision, turmoil and threats to its very existence. It was a rocky road for Apple, however the allure of Macs continued to appeal to a solid core of the creative and enlightened individuals who were willing to pay top dollar for a superior Operating System. The MacOS easily ran circles around Windows but it was not enough to dominate in the market especially with new customers typically focused on up-front costs.

Almost A Desert
For Mac gaming, a result was that many big name game developers did not produce Mac titles because Mac market share was "too small". This situation has plagued Mac gaming for as long as I've owned a Mac. The only reason Mac gaming currently exists is thanks to Mac game porting companies that started appearing in the mid 1990's leaping into the Mac game vacuum. Interpret companies like Aspyr Media, MacSoft, Feral Interactive, and MacPlay saw a market for native Mac games and struck deals with the PC game companies to keep the games a-flowing to the Mac. Their efforts can be seen in the best selling PC/Mac Game List.


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