Valve's Steam virtual store may come to the Mac

Gaming on the Mac has certainly improved in recent years, with more big name titles like BioShock crossing the void from Windows at a speedier pace (read: two years instead of four or six) than ever. But it’s hard to argue that the famous “Mac Gamer” parody isn’t still based on some truths. Those jokes may soon begin to lose whatever punch they have left, however, because there's a chance Steam may be headed for the Mac.

Steam is Valve Software’s wildly successful “app store for games” on Windows. Much like iTunes, Steam provides a forum for many of the gaming industry’s publishers to offer their wares as digital downloads. Players install a Steam client which allows them to shop, download, launch games, and make friends to play with (or against) online.

As reported by MacNN, files found in the recesses of a new Steam beta update suggest that a Mac version of the store may be in the works. There are graphic files for Mac window buttons (Close, Minimize, and the green, ambiguous “Best Fit”), as well as a new “osx.menu” file. Be still, my rapidly beating gamer heart.

Valve did not return a request for comment.

If these images do indicate that Steam is destined for Apple’s side of the fence, it could be a huge boost to gaming on the Mac. It is not, however, a guarantee that blockbuster games like Half Life 2, Left for Dead, or any of the latest series will be along for the ride. Steam—the store or outlet for buying games—is one thing, but games themselves will still require a lot of work to make the same transition.

Perhaps more interesting, if the prophecy foretold by these unassuming beta files comes to pass, is the potential shift it represents in the gaming industry’s acknowledgement of the Mac. Heck, it could even mean that Apple has finally improved its hot-and-cold attitude towards gaming (hat-tip to the App Store for that one). Apple has pushed hard on gaming with the iPhone OS, and it’s showed no signs of letting up, if its iPad marketing hype and demos are any indication. Maybe the positive experience of the iPhone has washed back onto the Mac OS X platform.

Or maybe the Mac has gotten big enough for Valve to finally get serious about it.

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