Valve may soon raise the crowbar for Mac gaming

Last week, enterprising gamers discovered some “evidence” that Steam, Valve's popular “App Store for games,” might be coming to the Mac. On Wednesday, Macworld and a number of other outlets scored screenshots that pretty much confirm it, and even hint that blockbuster series like Half Life and Left 4 Dead should be along for the ride.

If you haven’t had the gaming pleasure yet, Valve Software runs Steam, a software client and online store for games on Windows. Steam is home to all the greats, including BioShock, the Call of Duty series, Assassin’s Creed—just about any Windows game you’ve heard of for the last few years, large and small. The only problem for Mac users is that Steam and Valve have been Windows-only—until now.

A source at Valve shared the screenshot below with Macworld “in anticipation of an upcoming announcement,” and it couldn’t deliver this news to anxious Mac gamers in any better way. To make sure we’re all on the same page when reading this image: it depicts Alyx Vance, a key character in Half Life 2, reenacting Apple’s famous 1984 commercial by throwing a crowbar (the trademark weapon of Half Life protagonist Gordon Freeman) at series villain Dr. Breen (not to be confused with our own not-at-all-villainous Senior Editor). Half Life itself is a flagship series for Valve, and one that Mac gamers have been begging for since the first game blew open the industry’s doors in 1998.

Among other suggestive tidbits, let’s not forget that a recent beta of the Steam client for Windows switched the store’s rendering engine to WebKit (which Apple uses in Safari on the Mac and iPhone), and also contained some telling Mac-specific files and images. There are no further details for now, however, as to any other games that Valve or other publishers might bring along with a Mac-version of Steam.

Steam and Half Life’s arrival on Apple’s platform would be a significant win for Mac gaming. Valve was originally founded by ex-Microsoft employees who never strayed very far from the nest. Most Valve games have only been made for Windows, and in recent years a handful of titles were co-developed for the Xbox—another Microsoft gaming platform.

Most in the gaming industry (understandably) can’t talk about the Mac without at least a snicker, but something must have changed recently. Maybe Apple made some concessions that game developers have famously requested, or Valve simply got serious about the Mac, or perhaps it was the success of a little gaming platform that rhymes with “shyPlod much.” But regardless of the reason, this portends exciting news.

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