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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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    • All the Mac gaming spoof videos to post and you post that one?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B-ekl_cEWk [youtube.com]

      There's a classic.
      • by weave (48069)
        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. :(
        • 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 Yvan256 (722131)

            How, then, is PC [...] dying if it's the leading platform?

            It runs BSD?
          • When you compare PC game sales to individual consoles, the PC sells more games than the 360, PS3, or Wii.

            But how many games that can use more than one USB gamepad per machine come out for Windows, Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3, or Wii platforms? I'd imagine that the majority of households with a gaming PC have more people than gaming PCs, except perhaps at universities. For instance, I have a PC connected to a TV, and others have PCs in arcade cabinets, and we're itching for some native games that use both joysticks.

          • 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

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by CronoCloud (590650)

            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 v

        • 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!
        • Ah yes, but you know, when I go into a store now, there's only like six games for the PC too.
          There's your first mistake. You went into a brick and mortar store looking for PC games. Steam? Newegg? Direct2Drive? All eating away at the shelf space. Doesn't mean PC games are any less popular.
          • Ah yes, because you can't buy console games at newegg [newegg.com], or any [amazon.com] other [buy.com] online [tigerdirect.com] retailer [outpost.com] for that matter.

            And lets be honest, sales from services like Steam and Direct2Drive are rather insignificant compared to that coming from brick and mortar stores, that is if they ever actually released those numbers.

            Not to mention recently you have such time vacuums like World of Warcraft that have been drying up PC gaming dollars that might go elsewhere. Consoles don't really have that problem, yet.

            • by ben there... (946946) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @02:46PM (#20826747) Journal

              Ah yes, because you can't buy console games at newegg, or any other online retailer for that matter.
              Not that it's relevant. What matters is what percentage of sales for PC or consoles is made online. Spare the sarcasm.

              And lets be honest, sales from services like Steam and Direct2Drive are rather insignificant compared to that coming from brick and mortar stores, that is if they ever actually released those numbers.
              This [play.tm] Google News listed story says 1/3 of software sales are made online. Steam accounts for 3 million gamers [steampowered.com] monthly. There's a bit of obviousness about this question. If you're the type of person that shops for games online, are you more likely a PC gamer or a console gamer? Personally, I've never considered buying console games online. And I haven't bought a PC game in a store in over 5 years. Part of that is the poor selection and high prices in B&M stores. Steam takes that a step further and lets me play while it's downloading.

              Not to mention recently you have such time vacuums like World of Warcraft that have been drying up PC gaming dollars that might go elsewhere.
              I wouldn't exactly call that "drying up." WoW brings in a lot of casual gamers that wouldn't be interested in most other online PC games.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by ymgve (457563)
                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.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Xaivius (1038252)
          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.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by tepples (727027)

          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. :(
          Do you code? Do you draw pixel art? Do you write music? If so, you can help fix this. Reply if you're interested.
      • Did you happen to notice that the video you linked references the one I linked?

        Not saying one's better than the other, just saying I liked to the TrueNuff.com video because arguably it was "first".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Yosho (135835)
      What are you talking about? It's a great game [penny-arcade.com].
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nanowired (881497)
      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
  • 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)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by edittard (805475)

      the new mouse emulates a right mouse click finally
      Let me guess, you have to do left alt-right shift-both pedals-headshake?
    • by stubear (130454)
      But it does so poorly. I often think I'm left-clicking only to have a right-click contextual menu pop-up and annoy the hell out me. I hate the thought of having to purchase a mouse for my system at work (they won't) when Apple should just get over their obsession of eliminating buttons together and offer a true two button mouse.
    • by Mattintosh (758112) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:00AM (#20823315)
      The new mouse does not "emulate" a right-click. It sends a Button2 (sometimes called "Joy2", for joystick buttons) signal. Ctrl-click (Ctrl-Button1) emulates a Button2 signal in the OS.
      • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:16AM (#20823545) Homepage Journal
        The problem is that it does a poor job at having a second button. There should not be a finger anywhere near the Button1 or else the click is treated as Button1 even if the pressure is in the Button2 area. This is due to the fact that they use capacitive proximity sensing rather than pressure sensing. The entire mouse basically has one microswitch.
        • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:38AM (#20823885) Homepage Journal
          The problem is that it does a poor job at having a second button. There should not be a finger anywhere near the Button1 or else the click is treated as Button1 even if the pressure is in the Button2 area. This is due to the fact that they use capacitive proximity sensing rather than pressure sensing. The entire mouse basically has one microswitch.

          This is a problem with Apple's mouse, not with the OS, since the OS can use any old logitech mouse quite happily. This is what I do.
          • That is true, I use third party mice all the time. One of them is the one with a cheap Wacom tablet.
        • In WoW, pressing both the left and right buttons simultaneously means "walk forward". The Mighty Mouse can't click both buttons simultaneously due to its physical design. The Mighty Mouse is a 1.5-button mouse.

          (Yes, you can walk with the keyboard too.)
    • by Thyamine (531612) <thyamineNO@SPAMofdragons.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.
  • Agreed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hirschma (187820) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:47AM (#20823119)
    Seriously, better gaming availability and I'd be running to buy a Mac. Like, tomorrow.

    Of course, the same could be said for Linux. If the "bigs" showed up on Linux, I'd be dumping my Windows desktop, too.

    Bottom line: first non-Windows OS with decent, supported, modern gaming and I'm off to the races.

    I have a feeling that Shuttleworth isn't as silly as the Mac folks on this issue, wouldn't be surprised if he's had the same meeting, too.
    • by realmolo (574068)
      "Bottom line: first non-Windows OS with decent, supported, modern gaming and I'm off to the races."

      Don't hold your breath. There are multiple issues that will keep most games from every being made for the Mac or Linux:

      1. DirectX/Direct3D is a really nice API for making games. And MS supports it with nice development tools.

      2. The market for Mac and Linux games is incredibly tiny, and it's just not worth creating new versions (meaning, using an API other than DirectX) of a game for those platforms.

      3. Most imp
      • "3. Most importantly, even the market for *Windows* games is shrinking rapidly. Essentially all of the major developers are moving to the consoles, which is where the real money is. There is growth in the simple "Flash/Shockwave/Java" games that everyone plays online, but those are already cross-platform, and they are mostly advertising-supported."

        I see this fallacy spouted a lot, typically by console fanbois.. have anything to back this specious argument up?

        Last time i checked the PC had 3 row dedicated to
      • DirectX/Direct3D is a really nice API for making games. And MS supports it with nice development tools.

        I'm a games programmer, so I have to ask. How is DirectX/Direct3D better than SDL/OpenGL?

        -:sigma.SB

  • Apple needs better hardware for gameing the mac pro with 1gb of FB-DIMM ram and only a 7300 gt in the base system for $2200 is too costly and $250 more to upgrade to a X1900 XT is ripoff.

    The I macs have weak video cards and the only way to get a faster cpu is to get a bigger screen that puts even more load on the GPU.

    The mini is over priced and under powered.
    • by c_forq (924234)
      Mini under powered? Maybe when it had a core Solo, but not that it comes standard with a Core 2 Duo and a gig of RAM I don't think the mini is underpowered at all (unless you mean only the GPU, in which case you are correct). I will give you that it is at least $100 overpriced, IMHO anyways.
    • To stay on the bleeding edge they need better options, but for many games out there the games will play just fine at 1024x768, some cases higher. Hell, you can run 5 copies of WOW on my 2.16 C2D iMac ;)

      I think Apple as a whole is too distracted by trying to do too many things at once. You know that the iPhone had to take a lot of focus to pull off. Yes while they talk about increasing Mac marketshare I don't think its their bread and butter anymore and probably no where near the direction they will go an
    • Not to mention the fact that the previous gen iMac had an optional card that actually significantly outperforms [barefeats.com] the current generation of iMacs by a significant amount when it comes to gaming. I just don't get Apple's strategy here. On one hand you make a huge deal at the WWDC about game development(including having CEOs of 2 big gaming companies come to speak), but then the first computer you release post WWDC is actually SLOWER at playing games than the model it replaced! Not to mention you are right a
    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Apple needs better hardware for gameing the mac pro with 1gb of FB-DIMM ram and only a 7300 gt in the base system for $2200 is too costly and $250 more to upgrade to a X1900 XT is ripoff.

      People need to be more specific - its not that the Mac is unsuitable for games, its unsuitable for high-performance 3D games - mostly first-person shooters - used by people who would get beaten up at LAN parties if their rig couldn't pull 60fps at 1800x1200 in the latest game with all the quality options set to 11 - and I

      • As for the base video card in the mac pro you should get a dual dual-link dvi with 256 or more of video ram video card for $150 as that is the price that you are paying for the card and apple needs to up it to something better as the 7300 is out of date any ways a 8500 / 8600 is a better base card.
      • "used by people who would get beaten up at LAN parties if their rig couldn't pull 60fps at 1800x1200 in the latest game with all the quality options set to 11"

        Most of the pro players set the graphics down as far as possible to see their opponents easier.

        modern mac hardware is fine for most games, and they could sell higher end systems for those who wanted more eye candy, it's not like mac users are known for paying less for systems.

        I have a few friends who use macs, they play WoW extensively and would love
  • by ahoehn (301327) <andrew@noSpAM.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 antic (29198)
      "In Halo ... , sticking together is just about the only required teamwork."

      Yeah, nothing to do with control of the map and power weapons. ;)

      Rest of your points are well made, however.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      You're right, but what makes TF2 different than, say, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory or the Battlefield series of games? Those all had class-based play, also... and it doesn't look like TF2 is offering anything new here.
      • You're right, but what makes TF2 different than, say, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory or the Battlefield series of games? Those all had class-based play, also... and it doesn't look like TF2 is offering anything new here.

        TF2 isn't really offering anything new here. What it is offering is possibly the most polished, well-balanced, and thoroughly enjoyable example of the genre. It's similar to Blizzard's strategy with WoW: people have bitched non-stop that WoW isn't innovative, but the game is so successful because it dropped most of the annoying crap and polished the remainder to a high shine. TF2 does precisely the same thing for team-based shooters. I've been playing shooters since Wolfenstein 3D and I'm a huge fan of

  • 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 ga
    • 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.

      Apple would be stupid if they see gamers as a few percentage points. I see gamers being the 80/20 of hardware sales. Gamers easily buy the most new cutting edge hardware of anyone running the desktop even if their numbers in the overall desktop community is a minority.

      If Apple prides itself on producing high end syste
      • by Afecks (899057)

        Apple would be stupid if they see gamers as a few percentage points. I see gamers being the 80/20 of hardware sales.

        I wasn't implying that gamers aren't a huge percentage but to Apple they're worthless because they can't do anything for them except be worse than or just the same as PC gaming.

        Apple can't just match PC gaming, they would have to actually outperform the PC market if they expect gamers to switch on that standpoint alone. Your typical gamer isn't going to switch to OS X just to get the exact same performance they could with Windows, with fewer games, higher cost and more effort. It would only matter if th

    • that even with money-no-object, the XPS would be faster at running the games than the Apple quad-core monster. An XPS can be ordered with top-end graphics hardware, the Mac can't - they're just aiming at different markets.
      As you work down the Apple range comparing prices, the XPS will generally have (or have the option of having) better GPU grunt under the hood.
      Problem as I see it is that Apple != Games. Nobody buys a Mac to play games, therefore there's no need to bot the price/cut margin putting in a fa
  • Is the turnover rate at Apple really that high? Why are people leaving so fast? And in entire teams? Can I type a sentence that isn't a question?
    • I always found the Apple turnover rate to be rather low -- I mean, they're delicious, but I can only eat a few of them before it's just too much. --tedb0t
  • 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 bun
    • by Maserati (8679)
      Oh, as far as I'm concerned, and as far as anyone who owned a Mac back then, when Half-Life's Mac version was canceled Valve can just shut the frak up. Yeah, ask Gabe why they canceled THAT. Sure, it was tainted by being a late-Sierra project [1], but it was Half Life ! And it was gonna be on the Mac ! Bastards.

      http://forums.appleinsider.com/archive/index.php/t-18299.html [appleinsider.com]

      Bastards !!!

      [1] No network play with PCs, PC mods wouldn't work, this is why Sierra died.
      • by Guspaz (556486)
        A few points:

        1) The factual accuracy here is questionable. This is 5 years old. Right after, somebody claimed that HL2 was "100%" coming to Mac because he "knew a guy" who worked at Valve as a mapper.

        2) According to the forum posts, Sierra cancelled the project, not Valve

        3) It would have run in software mode, most likely, since I don't recall Macs having dedicated 3D hardware back then. Half-Life limited to software mode isn't worth having at all. It made sense when HL1 was initially released to include a s
        • Late 1998 or early 1999 was when Macs started coming with 3D hardware by default, IIRC. And there was third-party 3D hardware for the Mac long before then (not that I would know).

          -:sigma.SB

  • Specifics? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Amigori (177092)
    What specifically is holding them back? Are they looking for some kind of subsidy from Apple, or something? OpenGL is standard and well documented. HID is standard. CoreAudio is fairly new for audio programming. TCP/IP standard stacks for netplay. XCode is a decent IDE. I agree that graphics cards are certainly behind PC versions, but I'm not sure what can be done about that. Any geek seriously into gaming is already going to have a 2+button USB mouse to plug in. And that B.S. question about an Apple co
    • by p0tat03 (985078)

      I'm a Mac user, and also an indie game developer. I love OSX, but I develop exclusively on Windows. Why? Because DirectX is a million times the lib that OpenGL is. I know open source advocates don't like hearing it - but look, object-oriented (I don't care what you say, a C API falls apart at that level of complexity), well supported by a massive developer base, and well maintained, and not afflicted with proprietary-video-card-extensions-itis.

      In short, OpenGL works, and it works well, but it's also a maj

      • I've heard plenty of people say they hate working in DirectX as well. Looking at source code examples in both, my impression has been:

        1) DirectX does a bit more for you (built in vector and matrix classes, for example)
        2) It looks butt fugly - but maybe that's just me, I hate hungarian and microsoft's naming conventions in general :)

        Really, so little of a game is the graphics code, though, and any decent game dev is going to be using their own wrapper classes anyway.

        The problems are more that you can get acc
    • "Gabe and Valve have chosen to develop on the "cutting edge" for the advanced players, which means DX10, fancy Audio engines (for the 5% of users who have more than a 2.1 setup), support for Physics coprocessors, and as much bandwidth as the graphics card allows,"

      Um, no. the minimum requirements for all of Valve lineup is quite low.. they even do surveys every 6 months or so to see what the majority of users are running and develop a level below that.

      Of course they do support higher end setups but this is n
  • You can't really comment on the whole "Apple does nothing for game developers" until you know exactly what the man asked for. If it's insane stuff like "implement DX10 and the Windows API, and equip every computer with at least dual nVidia 8800GTS 2GB", I can understand Apple. On the other hand, if it's reasonable thought, such as shipping SDL with the OS...
  • I have been reading this dirtbags comments about the "three things" they want Apple to work on all day in various forms and I have yet to hear any specifics. This one has gone around the web and spurred a ton of discussion, but the discussion is all about how we "feel" about our PC's or the Games we may run on them.

    How about a few details? How about coming out and saying what it is that the Macs are missing?

    - Is it "Direct X"? (cause that isn't going to happen)
    - Is it better graphics cards? (they are the

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