|EB Games Expo Wrap Up, Image Gallery|
October 12, 2012 | Andrew Lennox
In a console dominated world, could iOS be the saviour of Mac Gaming?
When I attended the EB Expo 2012 a couple of weeks ago, I originally felt as though this was an odd place for a Mac gaming writer to be. With hundreds of square feet dedicated to the powerful rivals of Playstation, Nintendo and Xbox itís hard to deny their success in comparison to the Mac. This over saturation of console games only hinders my hopes for the PC, let alone the Mac, gaining a greater foothold in the market. However, as useless as I felt at this event, I wandered around trying to find some relevance to the Mac somewhere.
To my surprise, I did find something. Away from the hustle and bustle of the main hall, I found a parting in some canvas, like a tent at a circus, and peered in to find out what lay beyond. I was greeted with rather small stands with a few people tapping away at their computers. The feeling within this compound seemed reminiscent of a sideshow alley you see at the circus, with all sorts of weird and wonderful concepts of video games. Even though it didnít draw the crowds of Halo 4, it did contain some of the most passionate people Iíve ever met. When I picked up an iPad to play the first game in this plethora of indie titles, I was amazed at the depth and quality in these games that were produced on such shoestring budgets. One of the developers said to me that he had a full time job, and on the side, he had been working tirelessly to create this game he wanted to make. This devotion to every detail within their games, despite life intruding on most of their time, gives me great belief in the future success of these tiny studios and the many that will follow in the future.
As you might expect, with a drastically reduced budget in comparison to the multi-million juggernauts of Activision and EA, it is very difficult for these developers to choose which platform to publish on. This immediate limitation forces them to choose carefully on which engines and technologies to use in order to make the best game they can. Logic would tell us that with this limitation, they must choose a platform that will establish them and allow them to keep making games without wasting time. Because of this we see more and more developers head for the obvious choice, iOS. Not only does it boast over a hundred million users worldwide, but it has users who actively try and buy multiple apps. This greatly increases a developer's chances of becoming a success in comparison to other platforms. The developers I spoke with whole heartedly believed in the iOS opportunity, some even saying that because of the ease of discovery on the App Store, the barrier to becoming a great success is lower then it has ever been before.
With such a strong leader as iOS, it is hard to see which platform should come the next. Many iOS developers, including the ones I spoke to, face this exact problem. Producers want to increase their reach in the games market by increasing the amount of platforms their games run on, but the choice is so vast that it is difficult to pick one. Some people may say Android, however with such a fragmented market and very high levels of piracy, itís hard to say that it is the silver medalist. Windows? Perhaps. But with the next version, Windows 8, causing developers great hinderance as fragmentation of hardware becomes a great problem, this doesnít seem like the next best either. So, what do we have left then? How about the Mac...
Now some (maybe not the audience that Iím writing to) may proclaim that the Mac isnít even on the table when it comes to video games, but I believe the Mac has a very strong base for gaming. With a growing market share and the increasing popularity of the Apple brand, it must be at least a consideration. With features such as cross-platform play with iOS and OS X through Game Center, a relatively stable release of hardware and consistent technologies across the product line, the industry must see that it is a viable competitor.
As time has past I feel as though this argument for Mac gaming is gaining a foothold. Through the explosion of indie titles and AAA titles on software distributors such as Valveís Steam and Appleís very own Mac App Store, it seems that these distinct advantages are finally trickling down to the actual developers. When I spoke to developers on the EB Expo show floor, they seemed certain that the Mac is the next step in their development. It may be quite some time until the Mac is their number one priority, but slowly and surely I feel as though the Mac is becoming part of the conversation once again. This mere acknowledgement may not be the total dominance we Mac gamers crave, but it seems to be working for us very positively. Perhaps this could be the tipping point where the Mac has just enough relevance in the development community that it will quench the thirsts of the growing number of savvy Mac gamers.
The only thing really left on the ďUltimate Mac Gaming To-do ListĒ is for Apple to really push the idea of gaming on the Mac. If they listen to the cries from the community on how to make this the best it can be, it is very likely that they can see themselves in a better position amongst other gaming platforms. iOS has provided Apple with a great advantage to leverage a great push of gaming on the Mac platform, using features like the Game Center to introduce iOS users to Apple's "other" OS. While this may not be at the top of Appleís priorities, I think they should at least boast statistics of Mac gaming and show the world that Mac gaming isnít a joke, but rather a rapidly growing reality. If Apple would treat this as a priority worth investing in, there is a great possibility of both iOS and Mac OS X gaining a strong position in the future of gaming.
If you are interested in seeing more Inside Mac Gaming coverage of the EB Expo 2012, click the links below. Check out the gallery on the next page
IMG Expo Interviews Part 1
IMG Expo Interviews Part 2