Steam-y Windows? Nope, OS X.

I’m a Mac. Yep, just like the adverts, I’m that smug fashionable guy who laughs at the fat and old-fashioned PC guy. Actually, I’m not really like that at all, but I do own a couple of Macs and like them a lot. I bought my first Mac, despite being well aware that the Mac gaming scene is (to be polite) less than stellar. An entertainment unit full of consoles takes care of the gaming itch, not my computer, and that was that.

Until now. Seven years after the launch of Steam on PCs, Valve have finally brought their popular digital games distribution system to the Mac. More out of curiosity than any specific desire to game on a Mac, last night I set about downloading Steam.

It downloaded quickly, and installed in the proper Mac (drag and drop) fashion, unlike a lot of PC application ports, which seem to revel in giving Mac users a taste of the Windows install process. It was off to a good start. The machine I was installing to is my 2gHz dual core aluminium Macbook, so not a feeble system, but not exactly a super gaming rig, either.

The Macs infamous beachball, brought to you by Steam.
The Mac's infamous beachball, brought to you by Steam.

It installed. I started it. It hung. I fired up Activity Monitor, which revealed to me that Steam was somehow caning a massive 52% of my processor power, and was helpfully marked as Not Responding. Undeterred, I forced the app to quit and tried again. It crashed. It crashed again. It hung. It crashed again. Then I got it running and it sat there eating up 25% of the processor whilst doing precisely nothing.  Then it calmed down and I tried to access a game – Portal. Valve are generously offering the game for free as a promotion for the launch of the Mac store, and I really enjoyed it when I paid for it on Xbox Live Arcade. A box appeared: “This game is currently unavailable. Please try again at another time.”

It wasn’t looking good for this brand new world of gaming goodness on the Mac. Suddenly, though, it all started to work. I don’t know if it was due to excessive demand for the new product, or if it was something else, but all of a sudden, I was connected and downloading Portal. A two hour download loomed ahead of me, and by this point it was bedtime.

The following morning, I retrieved the laptop and peered at it through bleary eyes, fully expecting to see that Steam had crashed about 5% into the download. It hadn’t – Portal was fully downloaded and ready to play.

It lives!
It lives!

And it works well. I’d say that Portal looks just as good on this Mac as it does on the Xbox 360, which was something of a surprise to me. After I’d got used to the keyboard/trackpad method of control, I was away, immersed in the fantastic world of Aperture Science and the dastardly GlaDOS. Unfortunately, though, this has meant that Portal’s Still Alive song, which I had finally cleared from my mind after a couple of months, is back with a vengeance.

Sing along with Ready Up’s own Kirsten:

This was a triumph, I’m making a note here, huge success…








Leave a Reply