MacGameStore Best Sellers

An interesting list of best sellers for the MacGameStore in their latest news letter:

This Week’s Top Ten Bestsellers

  1. Scrabble
  2. Luxor 2
  3. Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst
  4. Virtual Villagers – The Lost Children
  5. Bejeweled 2
  6. Halo Universal Binary
  7. Pat Sajak’s Trivia Gems
  8. Luxor MahJong
  9. MacGameStore DVD
  10. Age of Empires III

Of the 10 items, only two are “hard core” triple-A games.

The Top 10 Downloads on Apple’s Game Downloads:

  1. Age of Empires III
  2. X-Moto
  3. Second Life
  4. Little Shop of Treasures
  5. Ankh
  6. OSX SkyFighters
  7. Myst Online
  8. MacPool
  9. Ultranium 5
  10. Classic Solitair

Obviously, downloads don’t equal purchases, but again here only two triple-A games and only one of them is “hard core”.

Is the lack of triple-A titles in these lists due to lack of interest or dearth of product?

Windows Games on Intel Macs reports:

TransGaming today released the “Cider” portability engine for Intel-based Macs, offering game developers and publishers the ability to deploy Windows-based games on new Macs quickly and easily, without the need for traditional arduous porting.

This sounds interesting, but “Cider” uses a Windows compatibility library to allow this to work. I wonder what the performance hit, if any, will be. This could be the answer to bringing more AAA games to the Mac on a more resonable schedule.

Update: As I suspected, there will be a performance hit for “porting” Windows games to the Mac using Cider.  As MacSlash reports:

The company claims that, performance-wise, “the average user won’t be able to discern any difference,” but does confess that “users are bound to see 10 to 15 percent lower frame rates than they would in a truly native game.”

MacSlash also says that Cider uses the open source WINE project as a basis for their magic.   I wonder how many companies are going to jump on this “free” code to come out with their own products.

Aspyr Announces: The Gamerhood

via today’s Aspyr Games Newsletter (July 31, 2006):

The Gamerhood(TM), coming soon, will allow Mac users to download casual
games and video games.

Earlier this month we announced the development of a new game application,
The Gamerhood(TM), that will allow a user to purchase and download a game
directly to their Macintosh using a standard Internet connection. A wide
range of Mac games, from very casual titles to some of Aspyr’s AAA titles,
will be made available through The Gamerhood(TM).

Over the next few months, we will be releasing more specific information
on The Gamerhood’s(TM) capabilities and a list of the titles, which will
be immediately available upon the application’s launch. A broad range of
features already being implemented in The Gamerhood are listed below.

The Gamerhood(TM) Features

• Purchase games and download them online
• Play games without physical CD/DVD media
• Check user compatibility by comparing machine’s hardware against a
game’s minimum system requirements before purchase
• Alert users to current Aspyr projects and new games
• Allow users to register games online
• Alert users to game updates and provide installs for updates
• Provide a user-friendly interface and convenient way to organize
personal gaming catalogue
• Allow parents to restrict game play and online game store material based
on ESRB ratings
• Provide users opportunity to take advantage of special offers

Downloading The Gamerhood(TM) will be free to all Mac users and will be
available to North American customers only at launch. Look for more
details about The Gamerhood(TM) from Aspyr as we approach the launch

I recently wondered why Aspyr didn’t have this already.

Mac Shareware Distribution

MacWorld’s Peter Cohen writes about commercial games taking up the shareware distribution model in his The Game Room column:

Shareware isn’t exactly a new idea. But the distribution model for shareware is being adapted by commercial game publishers for a new breed of commercial game that’s starting to impact how Mac games are sold.

Cohen mentions that the stalwarts of the Mac game industry, Macsoft, Aspyr, and Feral Interactive are “painfully aware” that they are missing the boat on download-based delivery of Mac games, and to expect them to jump on the bandwagon in the future.

I’m left to wonder, what has taken them so long? Electronic distribution is such an obvious mechanism, it’s hard for me to understand why they are not already fully invested in such a strategy.

Granted, most of these triple-A games are huge and would have very large bandwidth requirements, but bandwidth is cheap these days. Certainly it’s cheeper than printing DVDs, producing retail shelf boxes and shrink wrap materials, not to mention the “overhead” of dealing with middlemen and retail outlets.

Tuncer Dennis: Bungie, Marathon, & Indie Game Developers

Tuncer Dennis (Inside Mac Games, Mac Game Store, Mac Game Files) has a post on his blog about the days when he used to work with the game studio, Bungie.

He includes a nice little video on the days right before the launch of their game Marathon. Though Tuncer is no Spielberg, it’s interesting to see the “behind the scenes” look.

A nice bonus is Tuncer’s brief comments on all the hoopla surrounding the recent negative comments on indies in the game industry by Warren Spector. Tuncer has been involved with the game industry for quite some time so it’s nice to see a another perspective on this issue.

Are Video Games Art? Do Games Make Good Movies?

GBGames has some commentary on Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert’s review of the movie, “Silent Hill” and statements that games are not art.

I have not seen nor played “Silent Hill”, but I have seen and played “Doom” and watched “Resident Evil” (which I quite liked).

I find Ebert’s comments quite silly, actually. Games don’t make great movies, not because of art, subject matter, or anthying else other than who makes the movie.

Movies are made from screenplays by hundreds, if not thousands of people. The screenplay and the storyboards are the blueprints for the film. The filmmakers are the artists and craftsman. The game is just the inspiration for the screenplay and storyboards.

The reason “Doom” wasn’t a good movie is not becuase it was based on a video game, it’s because the screenplay was terrible, the direction was uninspired, and the acting was second-rate at best and the story was completely unoriginal.

But, it certainly was not worse (art or otherwise) than movies that were not based on games, such as any of the “Nightmare on Elmstreet” sequals.

Now, as to whether a game can be art. Again, this is silly as well. As GB states, art is in the eye of the beholder. While I didn’t personally enjoy “Myst” as a game, I thought the game itself was very artistic, if not down right beautiful. I remember the first time I played “Balder’s Gate”. I was blown away by the artwork making up the world in that game. Certainly, if you took the map “artwork” by itself you can’t deny that that’s art. Background music? Art. Storyline and narrative? Sounds like a book or screenplay. Again, art.

Now how about the reverse. If movies are art, then the “Star Wars” movies are certainly considered some of the most popular works of art ever. What about the scores of “Star Wars” games released by Lucas Arts? Art?

What if Orsen Wells decided to base a movie on a game? I bet it would be just a tad bit better received by Roger Ebert.