Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Why not release a game on Steam that has been ported to Mac?

As we have released all of our games for Windows, Mac and Linux and because we also release our games on Steam, this will be a quick reflection over the lack of games available for Mac that are not on Steam.

Looking at the Steam forums you can find a thread or two every now and then that brings up the topic "why are there many well known games, that are ported to Mac, but are not on Steam??".

The reason for this can be many: Perhaps there is a contractual limit or perhaps the company that did the Mac port have their own online store and only wants to sell the game in that store.

There has also been a mention here and there about SteamPlay, the feature on Steam that gives you a game for all platforms, even if you only bought it for Windows to begin with. This means that if you have a Mac as well, you get the game for Mac for free on Steam. Or the other way around of course. This might be viewed as a negative thing, because as the company porting the game, you have a lot of potential customers that will simply get your game for free. This makes SteamPlay also a possible cause not to release the game on Steam.

Bringing me to the point of this short blog post: As a long time Mac user, gamer and as someone that worked on quite a few Mac games over the years, I feel the urge to post a little "Steam is good, SteamPlay is good and if nothing stops you from releasing the game, do it."-suggestion.

Looking at our own sales, we have about 7-8% coming from Mac users. Last I heard, the Mac portion of the PC market was less than 7-8%! We have had this sale share since the very first month our games were released on Steam for Mac, so despite all the potential "lost sales" due to SteamPlay, we have sold as many copies as the Mac market should be able to support.

Let's take Penumbra Collection as an example; when it was released on Steam for Mac, the Mac sales accounted for 20% of the total sales of Penumbra Collection that month. This for a game that is to be considered old and have been available for the Mac elsewhere for as long (almost) as the PC version has been out.

If you are a Mac porting company, take a moment to think about it and if nothing stops you from releasing it on Steam, why not maximize the potential customer base?

Psst. Of course there are other originally Windows oriented stores that have support for the Mac, such as Gamer's Gate and Direct2Drive. Not to forget the newly released (long overdue) App Store by Apple themselves.


  1. It's a bit stupid to have to buy a game twice. You pay for the game, not for the right to play it on some OS.

  2. I use steam for all my gaming, although I'm a PC Gamer I use my MacBook Pro when I'm out and about. Because of the awesome features steam provides, I'm able to play through Penumbra instead of eating my lunch :)

    Totally agree with everything you've said, great post!

  3. Maybe not such a good example, but look at the earnings of the Humble Indie Bundle, and how they are spread across the platforms.

    Mac users are willing to pay more than Windows users (by average) and in turn, Linux users pay even more (nearly double as much as Windows users, again.. by average).

    The most important reason, to me, seems to be the lesser amount of games available on those 2 OS.
    You could also say Linux and Mac are being used by more advanced users compared to Windows users, and are there for more willing to put in some extra money for something they know requires a lot of dedication to make. But this is just speculation from my side.

    As for Steamplay, many indie games sell their games cross-platofm already, often even without strict DRMM, enabling them to install the game several times on different OS.

    I'm not a Mac user, and I have tried Linux, but I unfortunately, I had to put it down exactly because of that lack of supported games. I hope more companies release for Max and Linux indeed. :)

  4. I'm really disappointed :-(

    Instead of Linux and openplatforms, YOU guys are promoting Apple-Totally-Locked-FUD-MarketingBrainWash-Overpriced-Locked-in stuff :-(

    I was really happy about your company success beacuse of your support for Linux on gaming, but now i'm really sad.

    :-( :-( :-(

  5. @ Anon. Above: Just because they support an extra platform you don't use, that means the company is less important? =/

    However I myself have never really used macs and can't see any use for them. Releasing it for other platforms is all about options. More options given to you, not decided for you by someone else is a GOOD THING.

  6. @Ben: Heh. How did you just make a comment about choice (ergo Freedom) a pro-Apple comment?

  7. A larger average of people use macs in the US compared to Europe.

    Where I live they are an object of ridicule and tend to be used by hipster who prefer the smooth edges over gaming capability.

    There's a small niche of professionals who use them but this is mainly the big shiny expensive macs. You have to pay a premium for a decent mac, especially if you want to game on it.

  8. Quote Jens:
    "Oh please."


  9. I bought Penumbra Collection twice because it didn't work well on Linux, so I had to get the Windows version separately. But it was during the Humble Indie Bundle sale, so I don't mind.

    I'm glad you changed that with Amnesia release though.

  10. quote@Jens "Oh please."


    It's not a reply, pity. Having more support for Apple platform (also for games already ported and not distributed on Steam) on gaming, and I simply say that, IMHO of course, this is *not* a good thing.
    You are a game developer, so I understand that business is business, but to me your company figured as an indy company that loves promoting open platform to develop games, rather then lock-in and super proprietary stuff.

    Maybe I was wrong.

    quote@Ben @ "Above: Just because they support an extra platform you don't use, that means the company is less important? =/"

    Having crossplatform it's good, of course. But I really hate Apple philosophy and products (these are total lock-in, overpriced, marketing glamour, status symbol, stealing from opensource world, etc etc), so I totally boycott them and I never use or buy their products. Of course it's my personal opinion.
    And if I see that smart guys and Company that i like (as Frictional is) that want some kind of more diffusion for this platform, simply, to me it's not a good reason to write a post about. My 0,02.

  11. Fair enough, it just seems to be silly to complain about more options (things you don't have to use), regardless of what you think of apple. Hey I don't even have an ipod or anything apple either, so i'm not some fanboy sticking up for them, I just really really like having options.

  12. I agree with Ben. I'm only a recent Mac owner and my previous machine (a very old laptop that needed to be upgraded) would no way run Amnesia, or any game for that matter. So if it wasn't for the fact that this game was also available on Mac, which I am very grateful for, then I wouldn't have been able to play this awesome game!
    I'm a designer (hence the iMac purchase) and I think it's fantastic that my dedicated work machine can also play games.

  13. Can't you release the game to Xbox too?

  14. have you guys thought of getting your engine to work on multiple platforms from the ground up vs needing to hire another company to port? i believe cryengine 3 does this now right?

  15. Wait, are we missing the bloody obvious of why many games are not on Steam: because Steam is not an open market?

    A developer cannot simply say "I want my game on Steam!" and have it happen. Many successful games have been rejected. Many other games have been rejected only to have Steam change their minds later...

  16. This post was made by a company that develops for all platforms so the arguments don't make sense for porting companies.

    The lost revenue from PC players getting the PC version for free is only one issue (although for older game it can be a big one). The main problem which is much bigger is pricing; based on volume if you have sold a few million units you can drop the price to $5 or $10 dollars as you have already made a profit if the Mac version is bundled with the PC you have to sell a new game at this lower price.

    Other stores will not accept your game unless you give them the same pricing so Steam are in effect forcing the Mac port to be sold under cost (in all stores!) from the first day of sales this means that the Mac version standing alone will not recoup dev costs meaning no more Mac games.

  17. We might develop for all, but we do not publish all games for all platforms. Hence we can't guarantee prices etc for games and all stores, never had the problem of a price in one store forcing the prices for other stores.

    For a game to sell for 5-10 USD it has to be old, too old to be ported really to be sold for 50 USD. Also, looking at Borderlands as an example, purchasing the boxed GOTY edition from Feral is cheaper than the digital Windows version from Steam.

    It's easy to think a sale on Steam is a lost sale from another place, but from experience it is rather a sale on Steam is a sale at all. It's not uncommon for users to be "Steamed" and only wanting games that are available on Steam. So not being there is missing out on what is rumored to be a 50-70% of the digital distribution market for PC games.

    Gabe sums up something quite important about how Steam works, at around 8 minutes in. In regards to the effects of running discounts, both during the discount and after the discount.