ArsTechnica has posted an article with some impressions and analysis concerning the Steam for Mac beta and what to expect out of the full release. Ars has been playing with the beta for a few days and believes that this service will indeed be the future of Mac gaming.
The only game available for the beta is Portal and appeared to work great with Ars’ Macbook Pro once they plugged in an external mouse as the touchpad is not preferable for gaming. One good note: Most modern mouse manufacturers include Mac drivers such as Logitech and Razer.
Steam automatically set the Mac to run at the best settings it could and even told Ars to switch the GPU to the more powerful core so that it could squeeze better performance out of the machine. Ars notes that most modern Macs should be able to play any source game respectably so it makes sense for Valve to move to the platform.
As Ars points out, Valve is betting on the game-starved Mac gamer to drive more sales for their titles such as Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead and Half Life 2. Along with their existing titles, Portal 2 is expected to launch on the same day and date as the Windows version.
Another important note is SteamPlay which makes it easy to decipher if a game is cross-compatible with PC and Mac. According to the Steam Mac beta page: “Buy games once and play them on any Mac or PC. Just look for the SteamPlay symbol when shopping.” Sounds pretty simple, just buy games with that symbol and never worry about which platform you’re playing them on anymore.
To wrap-up: Valve is bringing a strong platform for Mac for other developers build upon. Steam is widely considered to be the most popular digital distribution platform on PC and will quickly become the defacto platform on Mac. If the numbers from Valve are strong enough, I would think it’s going to be difficult to ignore the Mac audience.