Mac Steam client arrives, Portal offered for free

Who ever said Macs can’t play games? Valve released the Mac OS X version of its Steam client earlier this afternoon, allowing users of Apple computers to access the digital distribution, multiplayer gaming, and communication service without having to install Windows.

As the image below attests, the completed Mac release of Steam looks quite a bit like the latest Windows version.

Valve plans to port its entire catalog of games to OS X, although right now, Portal is the only one available. On the upside, Valve offers it for free until May 24—not just to Mac gamers, but to PC users, as well.

The Steam online store also includes more than 60 other Mac-compatible games, including big releases like Torchlight and Civilization IV; indie games like Braid and Machinarium; some LucasArts classics like Loom and The Dig, and a cornucopia of casual games like Zuma Deluxe.

Valve emphasizes its Steam Play feature, which means purchasing a game for one platform entitles you to a copy of that same game for the other platform. If you log in with an existing Steam account, cross-platform games you’ve purchased should show up as installable in Mac Steam.

See the image gallery below for more screenshots of the OS X Steam client, plus a photo of Valve staffers celebrating the launch.

Comments closed
    • bcronce
    • 9 years ago

    Anyone know if Portal is “free to play” or “free to purchase”?

      • StashTheVampede
      • 9 years ago

      Portal is:
      – Free to Windows AND Mac users until 5/24
      – If you downloaded Portal and after 5/24, you’ll still be able to play it forever on Windows and Mac
      – If you never downloaded Portal before 5/24, you’ll have to buy it in order to play

      Portal is free, for a limited time. Get it while you can.

    • entropy13
    • 9 years ago
      • MadManOriginal
      • 9 years ago

      LOL ! 😀

    • blastdoor
    • 9 years ago

    Got Portal last night. Cool game! Smart of them to make it free.

    I have to say, I’m more psyched about this than I thought I would be when the announcement was made that it was coming. I guess I had just resigned myself to the idea that there would never be much gaming support on the Mac. I’m even thinking about upgrading the video card in my mac pro.

      • stdRaichu
      • 9 years ago

      Bizzarely enough, I played through portal last night… despite installing it over a fortnight ago via the orange box – it crashed on startup on my win7 machine until a patch from valve came out to fix it, so I finally got to play it yesterday.

      Brilliant game, and now I finally know where the whole “cake is a lie” stuff came from; all the people who loved yelling the phrase the second anyone mentioned cake had never played it either. Meme-tastic I guess.

      With all that, there’s four guys from my team at work just started playing it on my recommendation, two of them on Macs. Nice move Valve.

    • Kulith
    • 9 years ago

    “The steam servers are currently too busy to handle your request. Please try again in a few minutes.”

    totally didn’t see that coming ^-^

      • bhtooefr
      • 9 years ago

      Something that didn’t seem to be clear to many in that thread… (Disclaimer: IANAL.)

      That crack was not Rockstar’s property. And, while it’s a circumvention tool, and distribution thereof without Rockstar’s permission is illegal, it contains Myth’s code.

      It, AFAIK, does not invalidate their claim to their own code, it just means that it requires Rockstar’s permission *[

    • End User
    • 9 years ago

    Portal is now up and running on my MacBook Pro. I’m patiently waiting for TF2 to appear.

    If Valve brings Steam over to Linux my gaming rig will become dual boot with Ubuntu as the primary OS.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 9 years ago

    It wouldn’t download Civ IV on my Mac even though I already owned it. It let me download Portal and Braid, but not the game that I really wanted to play on the Mac.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 9 years ago

      Steve Jobs is the only one allowed to play ‘rule the world’ via a Mac!

        • TurtlePerson2
        • 9 years ago

        They claim that it’s for sale on Mac, but I can’t download it.

          • ericfulmer
          • 9 years ago

          I wonder if only the Valve games are for sure free on Mac if you own them on PC? Other dev’s might be hit or miss…

            • glynor
            • 9 years ago

            It won’t be just Valve. There’s already a bunch. Torchlight isn’t a Valve game, nor is Machinarium, and they’re both Steam Play already.

            • WaltC
            • 9 years ago

            I think the only thing to consider is that this is no doubt a crucial test period for Valve, which no doubt will plan all of its future OS X porting-development on the basis of how well its initial foray into the OS X market offers avenues of profit for the company going forward.

            The central problem Valve will face is the exact problem every would-be Mac game developer has faced since before Macs ran OS X–that is, how much of a market is there in terms of ROI for OS X game developers? History teaches: not much. That’s not being prejudiced about the situation, just honest.

            Before Valve announced its fledgling OS X support for the Mac, Mac-only game developers had already become something of a dying breed–nearly extinct, really–simply due to a distinct lack of demand for their games by the great majority of the people who own and use Macs. And, very often you hear Mac owners talk about the entire multi-billion-dollar-a-year computer gaming industry very disparagingly–ie, the great bulk of the core of Apple’s computer business is comprised of people for whom “gaming” is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. The history of the Mac as a platform does not bode well for companies willing to spend large sums of money to port or develop game titles for the Mac, period. I’m thinking Valve is being somewhat overly optimistic as to what Valve and Valve’s OS X developers can really expect to see from this foray into the OS X Mac market today.

            Frankly, I’m amazed that Valve is doing this at all, especially because today’s Macs are 100% x86 and come from the factory already enabled to install and boot into Windows natively–just add Windows, and away you go. Since that is the case, Valve’s investment in supporting OS X ports of its games could seem to some investors as a waste of money better spent on new game-title R&D in general–for Windows–because Macs boot into Windows, too, these days. As such, the need to specifically support OS X seems to me like an added and likely unnecessary expense and an unnecessary budget redundancy.

            I think time will tell the tale here. The landscape is littered with the forgotten corpses of Mac-only game developers whose products sadly were not able to penetrate enough of the Mac market to show a profit. So I think the real question is not so much what Valve will do in terms of supporting OS X, it’s much more a question of to what degree OS X users will do in supporting these efforts from Valve. This will be very interesting to watch as it unfolds.

            The very last major consideration, of course, is what Apple itself is prepared to do to improve support inside OS X across its platforms to bolster OS X game development. Again, historically, the answer is that Apple itself has been very tepid as to what it was prepared to do to better acclimate the OS X platform for 3d gaming support.

            • demani
            • 9 years ago

            Well, here’s a counterpoint:

            Mac-only devs did die off for the most part (or expanded to included Windows, a la Bungie). But the one who have abstracted their code, and have a relatively small platform specific amount, are able to do a fairly decent business on the Mac without a significant cost- after all the leg work was already done for the script, assets, level design, etc. for the Windows version. This has been the case for Id, Blizzard and Epic (occasionally). So, given the notion that well written code is easily ported from platform to platform (which also means it is easy to get to the consoles as well) means that there isn’t necessarily a major expense to get that much more market share.

            Mac only games will never work-too small a market. It’s the idea of the platform exclusive. Unless you get a lot of money upfront for the privilege then it just doesn’t make any sense. 5% extra dev cost for an extra 7% revenues is a real win for the effort, and worth doing. Additionally it will bring in additional users to the marketplace, and they may decide there are things worth purchasing and installing Windows for. It seems like a win to me even if Valve just breaks even (since they get a cut of other games).

            And again- the advantage Steam conveys are compounded. Lower distribution costs, less chance of stock getting cleared out at a retailer, undercutting margins. All things that help make the indie market viable come through again, and help lessen the potential risk of a Mac port.

            • SNM
            • 9 years ago

            Not to mention the indie devs who sell on Steam are going to *love* this. Typical numbers I hear about from indie devs who sell on multiple platforms are that the Mac version accounts for somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 their revenue. Since Valve gets a cut of all sales on Steam, it could be worth it for that alone, with their (apparently one-person) ports just being the driver to make people download Steam for their Mac.

            • WaltC
            • 9 years ago

            /[

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      Only “steam play” games are downloadable on all platforms for one price. Most of these older Mac ports were done by ohter publishers who own those publishing rights. Which makes you buy the game again in some instances and not others.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    Best news from this is that I can tell people who haven’t played Portal yet to go and pick up a copy.

    • pedro
    • 9 years ago

    FAIL! Requires a case-insensitive filesystem.

    I was really getting my hopes up with this too.

      • Ethyriel
      • 9 years ago

      How do you install Mac OS on a case sensitive FS, and what’s the purpose? I assume it’s not a huge issue for Valve to change, seeing that they have a Linux version coming in a few months. I can’t see them requiring case insensitivity there.

      Try emailing them. Maybe they just don’t realize it’s an issue for some.

        • thecoldanddarkone
        • 9 years ago

        I’ve done it. I regretted it about a week later though…

        • pedro
        • 9 years ago

        If you partition your disk as such (journalled, case-sensitive), OS X will install and be case-sensitive. This is useful if you want to muck around in the terminal quite a bit (which I do).

        There are work-arounds to this but they look pretty ugly at this stage. I guess I’ll keep on dual booting when I want to get my frag on…

      • dlenmn
      • 9 years ago

      It’s not like this is the first thing to fail with case-sensitive file systems. I got rid of mine after Alsoft Diskwarrior 3 had trouble with them. I blame these type of problems on Apple — they have this obscure option which can require more coding to handle automatically. No surprise it gives some programs trouble.

      • adisor19
      • 9 years ago

      Wait, why in the world are you running OS X on a case sensitive file system in the first place ?!

      Adi

        • glynor
        • 9 years ago

        It can be convenient to do so if you run a lot of (mostly older) POSIX software that was written with case sensitivity in mind.

        There’s less and less of a reason to do so anymore, but some people still like to (especially if they came to OSX by way of UNIX).

          • pedro
          • 9 years ago

          It’s also a nice way to brush on your *nix skills. No other reason I can think of.

    • Ethyriel
    • 9 years ago

    1) The interface is extremely slow and choppy.
    2) There’s no indication in my games list if there’s a Mac version, I have to select it first to see if there’s an install button.
    3) The favorites seem to be global, and not per machine. Not so great since I want to/can play entirely different games on my Windows desktop than my Mac laptop.

    Just the same, thanks Valve! I’m even more excited about the prospects of the Linux version.

      • glynor
      • 9 years ago

      I’m seeing no performance issues. Agree completely on point #2. There is a Mac-only tab in the Storefront section of Steam, but that doesn’t help you out for all the games you already own (and I have a bunch).

      Portal is already installed though, and Torchlight is downloading now.

      • glynor
      • 9 years ago

      Oh… Didn’t see it at first. At the top of your games listing (in Library mode), click the “All Games” next to /[

        • Ethyriel
        • 9 years ago

        That takes care of 2 and 3, really. At least until I have enough Mac compatible games to really need favorites. I don’t know why navigation in the store is so choppy for me. It seems especially bad in games that insist on playing video, I’m guessing they’re using Flash.

        I don’t know, I’ll have to take a deeper look when I get a chance. I was at work when I installed it today.

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      The interface is fine. The /[

        • Skrying
        • 9 years ago

        Didn’t know you had a Mac.

        • Ethyriel
        • 9 years ago

        No, in fact, the interface isn’t fine on my MBP. Thanks for trying, but I’m not as -[

          • SNM
          • 9 years ago

          The interface is a *little* sluggish, but most of the perceived lag (for me, at least) is actually uneven scrolling.

          That said, it does seem to use up a ridiculous amount of CPU power; Steam for Windows never did. :/

          • MadManOriginal
          • 9 years ago

          What does ‘sluggish’ mean in this case? People do understand it’s sort of a custom web browser so it won’t feel like a local application when changing pages and looking at new info.

            • glynor
            • 9 years ago

            That’s a good point. Perhaps people don’t realize that the Store pages are actual web pages and need to load just like they would in a browser.

          • glynor
          • 9 years ago

          The Steam UI is /[

            • Ethyriel
            • 9 years ago

            I have a 2010 MBP 13″, so I’m thinking it’s the flash. I’ll give that a try after finals.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 9 years ago

        The interface kinda sucks on Windows too, so I don’t see what the issue here is.

          • Ethyriel
          • 9 years ago

          Well, it’s slow rendering to the point where it’s very difficult to use. I don’t have that problem in Windows, though on a much faster machine.

          And yeah, I understand that it takes some time to get the pages. I’m talking after everything is loaded.

    • rodney_ws
    • 9 years ago

    Valve, you complete me.

    • SNM
    • 9 years ago

    Woah, is it a Steam requirement that the developer offer Steam Play if they have a Mac version?

    I might actually finish Braid now that I can play it on my laptop!

      • glynor
      • 9 years ago

      It is not a requirement (they can build a separate Mac version and charge separately if they want), but Valve has said that they don’t expect this to be common. They are “strongly encouraging” developers to use Steam Play.

    • ew
    • 9 years ago

    This was a triumph!

      • Chrispy_
      • 9 years ago

      I’m making a note here, huge success.

      Postpone the success note, actually. This apple doesn’t appear to have notepad.

      • Duck
      • 9 years ago

      A WINNER IS VALVE!

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    Cue ‘Where’s HL2 Ep 3??’ posts!

      • BoBzeBuilder
      • 9 years ago

      Cue “Apple Tax” posts!!!

        • CheetoPet
        • 9 years ago

        Cue the Linux release of Steam so my lazy ass doesn’t have to reboot into Windows anymore.

          • Helmore
          • 9 years ago

          A Linux version is coming, have patience…..

            • poulpy
            • 9 years ago

            Yep the guys at Phoronix have made a couple of updates on this in the past weeks.
            Seems to be more of about “when” than “if” at this point, so getting the Mac version out of the door is good news. Getting Portal for free too.

            • BlackStar
            • 9 years ago

            It’s been confirmed that the Linux version it’s coming by the end of this summer.

            *Including* a native port of Source and the relevant games.

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