First Impressions of Steam for Mac Including Portal and Team Fortress 2

224420 Steam+Home+Screen 500

Valve Corporation's foray into PC digital games distribution can't be defined as anything less than a success. Steam, the service, has garnered tons of fanfare from users, critics, and publishers alike for its simplistic design and non-obtrusive DRM.

In early March Valve teased, and then revealed, that a Macintosh version of the client would be on its way. Even better, the developer announced several of its games were slated to be ported as well. I've had the beta of the client, which officially hits on May 12th, for a week. The two games currently available in the beta are Portal and Team Fortress 2.

PC users, or Mac owners with Boot Camp, will feel at home with the client. Its simple interface is mostly unchanged in the Mac beta version. Tabs indicating its essential functions line the top of its window, displaying the virtual "Store," your "Library" of games, patch and update "News," and "Community" functionality. Invitations from friends, as well as advertisements for games, still pop up with the speed and appearance of a Growl notification. In fact, the entire program is smooth and fast. It works and, most importantly, without a hitch.

Cross Platform

Steam for Macintosh and Steam for PC are married via "Steam Play." This feature allows you free access to any Mac ports of PC games you've already purchased through the service. Games like Portal and Team Fortress 2 support this option, while several more are sure to come.

And keep in mind that this sort of cross-platform approach is something the Valve crew is seemingly taking seriously. Team Fortress 2 Mac owners like me have been playing with PC owners of the game on their very same servers during this latter end of the beta. I expect more of this in the future.

On a tangential note: the Steam cloud also keeps all of your information in-line between the two versions. Friends, profile and Library data is shared between both. I'm told that Steam for Mac, though, will have a specific Library option that displays what games you can play on the platform. It's currently not in the beta.

225805 Portal+Title+Screen 500

The Games So Far

Two Source engine games, Portal and Team Fortress 2, are essentially finished and available for play in the beta. Both games run natively using OpenGL.

Portal and Team Fortress 2 feel and play like their PC counterparts, though they may not look quite the same for all users. I, for example, had to do a bit of software-side tweaking to achieve fluid experiences: my 15" Macbook Pro -- rocking the integrated NVIDIA GeForce 9400M video card only, 4 Gigs of RAM, and 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo -- couldn't handle either game on its "High" settings. (But do keep in mind that integrated graphics represent the low-end of graphics hardware and those with discrete chipsets should fare much better.)

Team Fortress 2 in particular needed to be brought down to its lowest lows in order to run well. But even at this point, the game retains its characteristic charm -- both in terms of the over-the-top, manic multiplayer action and presentation.

I'm not sure if these two titles are the best indicators of what Valve is doing with their ports, though: they're both old titles. In the near future Valve will be adding in Mac functionality to Left 4 Dead 2 and its predecessor, as well as the Half-Life series and Counter-Strike: Source. These games should give us a better idea of what to expect. As of now, though, I'm left with the impression of promise and the minor satisfaction of playing games that I've played on multiple platforms natively on my Macintosh.

225807 TF2 1 500

What's Missing and What's Coming

Gamepad support, despite it being listed in the options menus for games, is not something the beta has. I was told by Valve earlier that this support is definitely on their to-do list.

Other developers might have their own to-do lists, too. As of right now, only one other developer, Tripwire Interactive, have pledged support. That developer is releasing Mac versions of Red Orchestra Ostfront 41-45 and Killing Floor.

Other notable games I've spotted with "Install" options for the Mac beta are: Torchlight, Peggle Nights, Altitude, Bejeweled 2 Deluxe, the Dash games, Dream Chronicles: The Chosen Child, the Tales of Monkey Island series, and World of Goo.

While there hasn't been much to ogle over with the Mac beta of Steam, I still can't stop smiling. There's a lot to like with the functionality of Team Fortress 2 and Portal, and a lot to enjoy from Valve's native-support of the platform. Games will continue to hit on the service as it grows and grows, and we'll be direct beneficiaries of its current -- and hopefully future -- dominance as more publishers join the fray. Valve need only to convince publishers that Mac owners are consumers.

231647 TF2 3 300
231501 Steam+Library+View+ +TF2 300
231459 Portal+Action+Shot 300


Steam for Mac should become publicly available on May 12th.

Top Stories

samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
nba tracking prompt orange

Two-Thirds of iPhone Users Expected to Block Ad Tracking

Friday April 9, 2021 7:19 am PDT by
As many as 68 percent of iPhone users are expected to deny advertisers permission to track them thanks to Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature, in what is beginning to look like a significant blow to the advertising industry (via AdWeek). With the launch of iOS 14.5, apps will have to receive explicit user permission before accessing an iPhone's advertising identifier or IDFA, which is...
fake airpods 3

Counterfeit 'AirPods 3' Hit the Market Prior to Official Announcement

Friday April 9, 2021 2:45 am PDT by
Apple is expected to launch the third iteration of AirPods in the third quarter of this year. Rumors and reports suggest the new AirPods will feature an updated design more in line with the AirPods Pro, but lacking in "Pro" features such as active noise cancellation. Despite AirPods 3 not yet being officially announced by Apple, counterfeit products of the unreleased earbuds have already hit ...
Top Stories 56 Feature

Top Stories: 'Find My' Expansion, iPhone 13 Pro Mockup, Largest-Ever iMac?

Saturday April 10, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's AirTags may still be nowhere to be seen nearly two years after signs of them were first discovered, but Apple this week launched its Find My network accessory program that will let third-party devices integrate with the Find My app on Apple's platforms to make it easy to keep track of your items. This week also saw fresh rumors about the upcoming "iPhone 13" and new iMacs, while...
ehric

iPhone 12 Mini Missing From Top 5 Best Selling Smartphone List of January 2021

Friday April 9, 2021 4:58 am PDT by
According to market data compiled by Counterpoint Research, Apple's smallest iPhone since the 2016 iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 mini, struggled to obtain a spot in the top five list of best-selling smartphones in January of this year. According to the market data, the iPhone 12 mini came in eighth place for the best-selling smartphone worldwide in the first month of the year. However, the iPhone ...
sonny 2021 ipad mini pro dummies

Leaked Dummy Units Show iPad Mini 6 With Thick Bezels and Home Button, New iPad Pro Models

Thursday April 8, 2021 2:11 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple will release refreshed versions of the iPad mini and iPad Pro models in the first half of this year, potentially as soon as this month, and a new leak today has provided us with a possible preview of what to expect in terms of the devices' overall design and camera prospects. Tech leaker and Apple blogger Sonny Dickson this morning shared images on Twitter showing dummy ...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...