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Valve's Gabe Newell on Apple's Gaming Failures 217

Posted by Zonk
from the maybe-they-should-start-thinking-along-these-lines dept.
The site Kikizo has up a lengthy interview with Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve and one of the minds behind the Half-Life 2 games. Though their discussion centers around the Orange Box (slated for release soon) and the titles contained therein, the discussion kicks off with Newell's scathing dress-down of Apple's understanding of the importance of gaming: "We tried to have a conversation with Apple for several years, and they never seemed to... well, we have this pattern with Apple, where we meet with them, people there go 'wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming'. And then we'll say, 'OK, here are three things you could do to make that better', and then they say OK, and then we never see them again. And then a year later, a new group of people show up, who apparently have no idea that the last group of people were there, and never follow though on anything. So, they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there's never any follow through on any of the things they say they're going to do. That makes it hard to be excited about doing games for their platforms."
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Valve's Gabe Newell on Apple's Gaming Failures

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  • by PrescriptionWarning (932687) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:44AM (#20823049)
    Get a mouse with two buttons. (granted, the new mouse emulates a right mouse click finally)
  • What Apple needs (Score:1, Insightful)

    by downix (84795) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:47AM (#20823109) Homepage
    Macs are good machines, but they are not gaming machines by any stretch of the imagination. Then again, gaming on Windows or Linux is a kludge as well. I haven't seen a home computer optimized for gaming since the old Amiga. Frankly, all of these guys focus on their bread and butter, and if they can "happen" to get games to run, good.
  • by geeknado (1117395) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:00AM (#20823317)
    Maybe, but one important distinction here is that that "kludge" is a priority of Microsoft's(and of some elements of the Linux community as well). Microsoft views games as a key part of their consumer-adoption strategy and are constantly working with the community to improve the development experience-- see XNA [microsoft.com], as an example of something they've done that's pretty interesting.

    By contrast, the company that 'gets it' about everything else doesn't seem to see any worth in trying to make their platform more game developer friendly...It's always been an afterthought, and that's strange if you think about it. Here's a company that's winning sales by making the use of their platform more fun/enjoyable than their competitors, yet somehow, they always ignore games? It's almost like they think that magically game devs will target their platform/solve the problems for them, which I suppose is possible if they get enough market share, but seriously-- how many more Macs would sell if gaming on a Mac was really something you could do? It boggles the mind.

  • by happyemoticon (543015) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:02AM (#20823355) Homepage

    The main obstacle to gaming on the Windows platform is Windows - that is, the amount of memory the operating system soaks up just for being around. There, however, you can just slap on some more memory and you're good to go.

    But with Macs, I understand that from a game programmer's perspective, the graphics APIs just aren't as good as DirectX. Can't fix that with a few RAM sticks. I've got my Mac computer dual-booting, so I'd know! Also, they don't sell a box that is really in that "gamer" niche. The top-end iMacs are still a bit too slow to be good gaming machines, and your options for aftermarket upgrades are limited; the pro systems are absurdly expensive and shove more cores down your throat than you really need unless you're doing video editing.

  • by Thyamine (531612) <thyamine@ofdrago n s .com> on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:03AM (#20823369) Homepage Journal
    Any mouse you want to use, you can. My MacBook Pro didn't come with a mouse, so I went and bought a nice Logitech. Both mouse buttons work fine. Gamers usually have a nicer mouse than the standard Dell/HP/Microsoft mouse that comes with their system anyways. Why should a Mac be different? Don't gripe, go buy a nice mouse.
  • by LameAssTheMity (998266) <william.brien@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:13AM (#20823511)
    ....So what you're saying is.... "I use Windows to run games on my Mac"
  • by ahoehn (301327) <andrew@@@hoe...hn> on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:14AM (#20823527) Homepage
    While the Slashdot summary focuses on the article's brief discussion of Mac gaming, the bread and butter of the article is about other things. I found this to be the most illuminating quote:

    So [Team Fortress 2] tends to accommodate a wider variety of play styles than say Counter-Strike. I mean Counter-Strike is very clear; there's not a lot of variety in that, whereas there's a huge difference between the tactical thinking that an engineer does managing resources versus say the approach that the sniper has playing in that game. So really it's much more accommodating to a wider range of play styles than any game out there.

    This is exactly why I haven't played CS for 2 or 3 years, but I've been playing TF2 every night this week. In CS, or Halo, or just about any other multiplayer first person shooter, if you're not good at shooting people in the head, you're not good at the game. But in TF2, there are so many ways to play the game that everyone's bound to be good at something once they find their niche. While I still suck at playing a soldier or sniper in TF2, I'll often find myself at the top of the list when I'm playing as a Medic or Engineer.

    The other unique thing about TF2 is the variety of cooperation that it requires. In Halo and CS, sticking together is just about the only required teamwork. In TF2 the level of class specialization demands an incredibly diverse range of cooperation. Switching the balance of power is often as easy (or hard) as finding a combination of classes that can defeat whatever strategy happens to be working for the enemy.

    In some ways, the cooperation in TF2 reminds me more of World of Warcraft than any other First Person Shooter.
  • by Afecks (899057) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:15AM (#20823537)
    The problem I think is pricing. The base configuration of a high-end Mac Pro costs what I normally spend on a fully decked out SLI rig. I think the problem Apple faces (and knows) is that gamers aren't morons about hardware (most of us) and are unlikely to spend that much extra just for a Mac shell.

    After all, no gamer goes.. oohh I want a Dell XPS. No, they say, oohh I want a quad core Kentsfield and a 8800 GTX SLI blah blah blah.

    Apple just doesn't have the insight or ability to take Mac gaming BEYOND PC gaming. Coming in as a tie won't matter much but it will get a few people to jump ship that only hang around Windows for the next Tomb Raider game or whatever genre they like. Apple is not stupid, they know that gaming on a Mac won't add much, however it is inevitable if Mac is ever going to be viable in the mass market. No those few percentage points don't count.

    Queue Mac trolls telling me how I just don't get it..
  • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:21AM (#20823617)
    Sounds like whining from Valve to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Apple is a saint or anything. They should probably make things easier and up the hardware a little more.

    Other game companies have made games for Apple no problem: ID, EA, Blizzard, etc. The difference is they accept that they have to go with OpenGL. Some of them are fairly recent ones too. Apple has even made 1-2 updates that include fixes for a game, so they "care." I've always seen it as an effort vs reward type of thing: a bunch of work for a smaller audience makes it less likely to happen.

    My guess is they're asking Apple to do something along the lines of Direct-X, to make it easy to adapt an DX game for some mythical Apple architecture. They probably want big architecture changes or additions, things they aren't just going to do on a whim because of Valve.

    After the things Valve did, it's hard for me to take their side after just hearing their claim. Heck, even against MS I'd have a hard time just believing Valve.
  • Re:Yep. No games. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ogive17 (691899) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:27AM (#20823703)
    It's not about porting a game to Macs.. it's about Apple doing a few things that would make porting games much easier. It seems quite simple, if Apple wants to greatly increase market share, they will make their systems more gamer friendly.
  • by nuzak (959558) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:35AM (#20823851) Journal
    Still not a home computer.

    But the GP is talking nonsense. Shell out five grand for a XPS or Blackbird and you're buying a gaming PC, full stop. The Amiga was no more "optimized for games" than a Mac (to get back on topic)
  • by archen (447353) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:51AM (#20824089)
    It boggles the mind.

    Does it? If one thing Apple works hard for, it's a good user experience. They charge more for hardware of moderate performance. They WANT customer loyalty.

    Gamers by contrast love to upgrade video cards and screw with bios settings. Gamers also have NO loyalty. They'll drop anyone to go to a next big thing in performance and gaming. The PC world there are plenty of vendors competing in all spaces. Who is Apple going to compete against? Apple? The entire chasing gamers trail of thought is basically in the same vein as "why doesn't Apple make their OS for all PCs".

    If apple should be concerned with anything right now it would be having the biggest PC game available on a Mac. Last I checked World of Warcraft worked just fine, so I don't think they're too worried.
  • by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:03PM (#20824283)
    Except it isn't.

    A common error people make is to compare the sales of console games for EVERY console platform to PC game sales.

    When you compare PC game sales to individual consoles, the PC sells more games than the 360, PS3, or Wii. Halo 3 might be an exception, but that's a blip, a temporary boost that doesn't happen every week.

    So of the four platforms, the PC is on top. How, then, is PC gaming dying if it's the leading platform?
  • by nanowired (881497) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:15PM (#20824455)
    I loved all the "apple vs PC" clones out there.

    what was really funny, however, was the one mac supporter who used someone else's work than cut in to try to defend why Apples are better for gaming.
    In short, he said
    1) Consoles are "teh" better for gaming than PCs!
    2) only kiddies who know nothing about computers use PCs for games!
    3) Mac's Hardware is up to par! really it is.

    I have no doubt that Mac's hardware cant run most games on the market, considering that all of the hardware - or close to it- is the same as what you can put in a PC. I do doubt that kiddies who know nothing about computers would go for a PC instead of a Console, which only requires the most rudimentary knowledge to use. Also I doubt the knowledge of the User has anything to do with the game system itself.

    The problem With the Apple and Games Debate lies in two places.
    First, the fact that Apple's attitude is not Gamer friendly - despite the fan base who insists its so.

    Second, the fact that a Gamer can build his gaming platform for abouts 500 dollars. Thats the same price as a PS3, yet more useful. If you include the 200 dollars for a GOOD monitor, versus the 500 dollars for a Good TV, its much cheaper or on par than the Next Gen consols. Its not the top of the line, smoking down the road PC, but it will run most games. In the mean time, A new apple costs 2000 dollars. As far as to replacing individual parts in an Apple? I've been told two sides to this. One half of the Apple Fan base insists that its as easy to do with a PC - however mysteriously no one assembles their own Apple Computer through parts bought off of New Egg. The other half insists that Its nearly impossible to upgrade your Mac without sending it in.

    As for me, I'm no windows fan. Vista has proven to be a big joke. However until someone comes out with am OS that runs on the hardware I have that has real games(read:Not minesweeper) developed for it, I'm sticking to Windows.

  • by geeknado (1117395) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:22PM (#20824555)
    Yes, it does.

    You could make a very strong case that the Mac could be an ideal gaming platform since they utilize a limited number of configurations-- it's a closer analog to a console than to a Windows PC that way. /That's/ why it boggles the mind.

    There're different kinds of gamers, and those that hack around with their boxes/upgrade the hardware themselves are not the only ones that drive the gaming market. Given that 'l33t rig' warehouses seem to be doing fine, it seems clear that there're even hardcore gamers that buy their config pre-tweaked.

    Yes, WOW works just fine on the Mac(and under Linux), and that's /not/ because Apple has in any way facilitated its development. Rather, Blizzard recognizes that volume is king when you're talking about an MMO, so they've worked hard to support as many available platforms as possible. Good for them.

    "But it doesn't play games" is the typical argument against purchasing a Mac/using OSX. Sure, you can use Boot Camp and dual boot, but in that case you're buying a Windows license /and/ installing your own operating system, putting this outside of the comfort zone for many potential users. Your average end user is not going to want to mess with a boot loader, period.

  • by Puff of Logic (895805) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:37PM (#20824787)

    Ah yes, but you know, when I go into a store now, there's only like six games for the PC too. Everything is for consoles now days. Gaming on the PC seems to be dying. :(
    Could have fooled me. There are so many games out right now that I simply don't have time to play through them all. Granted, I'm a pretty busy guy, but I still spend what is probably considered a greater-than-average amount of gaming and I simply don't have a hope of finishing all of my games. On top of this, there are some incredible gaming experiences on the PC that one simply doesn't really ever finish, such as WoW (and of course other MMORPGs), Civilisation IV, and bundles of pure awesomeness such as TF2.

    Personally, I think console gamers as a group are somewhat prone to fanboyism and thus are extraordinarily vocal in terms of attacking anything that isn't related to the console of their choice. The obvious attack against PC gaming is that it's "dying", even as console companies are working feverishly to turn their consoles into an almost PC-like experience with hard-drives, networked and online gaming, and improved pointing devices like the Wiimote.

    To be honest, I'm not sure why so many people feel the need to slag other people's gaming systems. We're all gamers, and we all benefit from the various innovations that come from the various forms of gaming. If one of the consoles makers manages to come up with a system that provides a definitive gaming experience, I won't cling to my PC stubbornly. Conversely, if gaming on the PC offers up something that consoles simply can't supply, console gamers would do well to pay attention and applaud, rather than slag it.

    Now, innovation in gaming just needs to continue until I can retire in, say thirty or forty years, having buckets of cash to spend on the new systems and all the time in the world to play!
  • by alongley (1084161) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @02:03PM (#20826073)
    First off, if your FIRST reaction to this post is along the lines of "you fools, there are no games for Macs" or "Mac hardware is so much more expensive than PC hardware", you are obviously bringing a lot of personal bias to the discussion. This topic has nothing to do with those topics. Many companies make many great Mac games with or without Apple's support. My takeaway from this is that Valve couldn't make their own business case for porting to the Mac. They are of course entirely within their rights to do this, but to shift the blame to Apple is patently ridiculous. They may not be doing it because they wouldn't make much money, or because they are incompetent and can't figure out the APIs, or whatever. But his reasoning that somehow Apple needs to hold their hand through the process, and THAT's the stumbling block about porting, flies in the face of all the great games that already exist. I see a speck of hubris on Apple's part, but that's Apple's problem. Mac users suffer for it, but the blame lays squarely with Valve for the lack of port.
  • by Xaivius (1038252) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @03:14PM (#20827167)
    Oh for the love of god, people. Give it a rest. PC gaming isn't dead until finding new PC games is like trying to find new N-Gage games...
  • by kcornia (152859) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @03:55PM (#20827853) Journal
    Just off the top of my head:

    Bioshock
    World in Conflict
    Medal of Honor: Airborne
    Civ 4: Beyond the Sword
    Supreme Commander
    Crysis
    DiRT
    HL2: Orange Box
    Call of Duty 4

    I could go on and on, and the holiday season hasn't even hit yet. You could argue a couple of those are console ports, but the vast majority wouldn't even begin to work on a console.

    PC Gaming dying? Uh no.
  • by ymgve (457563) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @04:46PM (#20828643) Homepage
    Even though there are 3 million accounts om Steam, that does not mean there have been 3 million software sales online, because even when you buy a Valve game in a retail store, you still have to create a Steam account to be able to play. Not to mention that you can create a Steam account without any games, so there are probably a lot of empty accounts there too.
  • by DrYak (748999) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @08:12PM (#20831413) Homepage

    A common error people make is to compare the sales of console games for EVERY console platform to PC game sales.


    How many of your friends have got all three of current generation's consoles. Not many. Some do, but the avarage user has 1 box sitting under his TV.
    Same question about Macs vs. Windows operated PCs.

    Therefore, at the time of buying a game he hesitates between 2 option :
    - either buy it for his current computer.
    - or buy it for the console that sits in the living room.
    he's not hesitating between all different console release. Most of the usual gamers can't choose between XBox360, PS3 or Wii, because only one is available at home.

    And what number tells us, is that more often, the users prefer to buy a game for the console they have at home (whatever it is) instead of buying for their desktop (PC running Windows most of the time, Macs bootcamped into Windows in nearly every other case. Except for id Software game that are massively bought by us Linux gamers. All three of us...).

    Then yes, inside the "console" market, there isn't a monopoly as strong as in the computer market.
  • by CronoCloud (590650) <.cronocloudauron. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @08:13PM (#20831415)

    So of the four platforms, the PC is on top. How, then, is PC gaming dying if it's the leading platform?


    Because on the PC a game selling 50000 copies can be considered a hit, on the console that would be considered a failure. See in the PC world you have the big hits like HL, Sims, WoWetc, and then you have lots of lttle sellers. There isn't a strong "middle class" of sales.

    The console world does have a "middle class" of sales

    So a game that sells 50000 copies of it's PC version and 500000 of it's console version is probably going to get a sequel, but it will be console only, a la the Summoner series for the PS2.

  • Re:Yep. No games. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by anothy (83176) on Wednesday October 03, 2007 @02:14PM (#20840729) Homepage

    2) The games companies give them things they could do to make porting easier.
    the primary problem here is that we have no idea what was asked for. if Valve told Apple "give us DirectX", it's no wonder they were ignored. same problem with your step 3. without know what was asked for, we have no way of knowing whether anything was done.

    4) The games companies assume from their conduct and lack of contact that Apple don't give a rat's ass about assisting porting.
    the problem here - and it's one Newell has as well - is that you're inappropriately generalizing from Valve's claims to the overall industry. the fact of the matter is that there's plenty of game shops that do nice fancy stuff on the Mac using whatever APIs they provide. sure, not nearly as many, but that's mostly a market/business decision. that's fine, but Newell's claim is that there's a technological issue that Apple doesn't care about addressing. and that's clearly not the case.

    Valve, like a bunch of other companies in a similar position most of a decade ago, had a choice to make and got into bed with Microsoft and DirectX. you can argue about the business or technical justification, but the effects are that those companies now have a much steeper road for porting, to the detriment of all (except Microsoft).

    until Newell puts forward some specific complaints with gaming development on the Mac, i'm afraid it simply sounds like he doesn't want to admit that they make money-based decisions around their games.

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