As Steam for Mac rolls on, a milestone will be reached today as the Mac OS X version of Half-Life 2 is available for download, five and a half years after it was released on the PC. The critically acclaimed title - winner of many awards, including "Best Game of All Time" as voted by the readers of PC Gamer - is the latest in a series of top games that will be released for the Mac on Steam - the Mac OS X version of Portal was available for free download until Monday - and is promoting the new release with a video that harks back to the classic Apple '1984' ad.
Steam for Mac is a major step in the effort to mainstream gaming on the Mac, which has long suffered from a lack of titles and limitations in graphics drivers that impedes performance. Valve released its Mac compatible Steam client earlier this month, and reported that 11% of its downloads last week were to Mac OS X computers. In a claim that is already starting flamewars far and wide, Steam founder Gabe Newell says that Portal for Mac is "five times more stable" than the Windows version. While the claim may be somewhat misleading - the measurement is number of crashes per minutes played - Newell and Valve developer Jason Mitchell make a valid point in an interview podcasted on The Conversation about the hardware-software consistency on the Mac platform versus the anarchy of Windows running on a broad range of homemade PCs. Mitchell acknowledges the performance lag, but asserts that "we'll catch up," adding that "Apple is certainly motivated to work with us."
Valve put out a video to mark the Half-Life 2 release that is an homage to the Apple ad used to introduce the Macintosh for the first time. Directed by Ridley Scott, the "1984' ad was aired during Super Bowl XVIII and showed a woman throwing a hammer at a screen with a 'Big Brother" like character on it. The reimagining has Half-Life 2 character Alyx throwing a crowbar at a screen showing Dr. Walter Breen.