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Is Mac gaming still a punchline?

by Robert Daeley
Oct. 27, 2005

The irony of today's Aspyr release date announcements is pretty apparent. What was announced? Civilization III: Complete for Macintosh will be released in December, while the highly anticipated Civilization IV is coming in 'early 2006'. I know this thanks to a press release on MacNN, not (at least as of this writing) due to any notification on the Aspyr website.


Why is this ironic? Well, mostly because Windows-using friends of mine got their copies of Civ IV today.


Now, there's nothing new about the sad state of Mac gaming. It has been a punchline for a long time now, and one of the biggest talking points Windows users love to throw in our faces (also one-button mice, but never mind that). Mac gaming, to use the technical industry insider term, bites.


Looking at the What's New In Mac page for Aspyr.com, the five featured 'new' games at the top of the page are (with their accompanying real release dates in the rest of the computing world, according to gamespot.com):


* The Sims 2 (2004)
* Stubbs the Zombie (2005)
* Sim City 4 (2003)
* Doom 3 (2004)
* Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 (2004)


Stubbs is only out for Xbox at the moment, so there's an actual new one. Oh, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006 was released last month, by the way.


Not to pick on Aspyr too much, but again, nothing new here. It is saddening for someone who remembers the heady days of Marathon, the original SimCity... heck, The Ancient Art of War was the very first Mac program I ever used back in 1985. Saddening, but not news.


Nowadays, I'm probably more likely to pick up a Playstation 2 controller if I want to play a 'modern' game. It's just pragmatism, really, after years of trotting out the old 'At least we have the big games, even if they are 6 months late!' argument. Mac gaming might have the quality games (although even that is arguable), but quantity-wise, there is no comparison.


There is some hope to be found in open-source games, but not for the latest greatest. And of course there are individual titles here and there that are joyfully Mac-only, but not like the envy-inducing Marathon days. (A side note, which would you rather have had released this year: a Doom movie, or a Marathon movie? Well, there's always Halo. ;)


Sure, we could make the point that the lack of games means we can be way more productive sans distraction, but what do y'all think? Can Mac gaming be resurrected? Is it really that big of a deal? Isn't gaming a barometer for the health of a computing platform?

Robert Daeley is a writer and programmer in Southern California. By day he is a mild-mannered server administrator and website developer; by night, in addition to his super-hero duties, he cooks, bikes, hikes, cheers on the Dodgers, and writes fiction.

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