Mac App Store Launches

App Store
Image via Wikipedia

The Mac App Store is a concept that I’m fully behind. Digital distribution is the way forward for practically everything. It just makes sense from a price and convenience standpoint. Having all apps in one place for an entire operating system isn’t a new concept for desktop computing as far as games are concerned, with services like Steam leading that evolution. For regular computing apps however, it’s a different story entirely. You have been able to buy apps online for a long time, but only directly from the developer.

The App Store model simplifies everything, creates an arena where pricing will become competitive and therefore cheaper for consumers, and because of the prominence of the App Store within Mac OS, sales will likely go up for software due to ease of discovery.

App updates will be handled within the App Store itself, and I’m assuming that you’ll get a number notification of available updates on the dock icon in a similar way to how it’s handled on the iDevices. This just takes Apple’s philosophy of giving users powerful tools, but in a way that anyone can understand and make full use of.

The final big advantage of an App Store for desktop computers is that you can buy individual elements of software packages for a reduced price if you don’t want to buy the entire suite. For example, you can buy the individual components of iLife 11 for £8.99 each. Since the only one I have any real interest in upgrading from my previous version of iLife is iPhoto, it would be great for me to get those improvements for a much cheaper price than the boxed version which is over 4 times the price.

Aperture, Apple’s professional aimed software which is a step up from iPhoto with advanced functions, is also available on the store for a dramatically reduced price from the boxed version. As someone who is starting to get into more serious amateur photography, this may prove useful in the near future. Providing my 2006 MacBook can run the application, especially when dealing with RAW files. I may have to upgrade sometime soon if it can’t. Those new MacBook Air models look pretty well priced and great technology for me to take advantage of.

In general, the Mac App store will surely be a great success for Apple. Probably not on the massive scale of the App Store for mobile devices, but a success nonetheless and a great step forward for desktop computing.


The Evolution of Steam: Mac Version and More

I’ve been a big fan of Steam, the game download and community service from Valve for a long time now. Not only do they have a great selection of games and a great online infrastructure, but they prove that you don’t have to rip people off and be an “evil corporation” in order to be successful in the games industry.

Valve show that you can give people legitimately great deals, be nice and make money at the same time, all the while increasing brand loyalty with their customers. Valve show that downloadable games can make sense, and that they can be lower priced than their retail counterparts where Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have yet to grasp this notion.

As far as recent events, Valve have just launched Steam for Mac, and I have to say I’m very impressed with it. As far as the application itself is concerned, it is essentially exactly the same as the PC version we all know and love, but that’s probably the best thing they could have done. The integration of Mac software into the existing storefront shows a huge amount of care was taken in trying to make Mac users feel welcome and not confused by not distinguishing between Mac and PC games.

Not only can you sort by operating system, but you can also Play Mac games with PC players of the same title online using SteamWorks. On top of this, and perhaps coolest of all, for certain titles marked with the Steam Play logo, you are eligible to download these particular games to both your Mac and PC for no additional charge. Shockingly, PopCap games are included in this, so I could download BookWorm, Peggle Deluxe and Peggle Nights to my MacBook for free, when on PopCap’s own site they charge separately for Mac and PC versions, so this is a fantastic offer for Steam gamers.

Not only this, but Valve are offering one of their well known and popular games, Portal, which is one part of the hugely successful Orange Box for free for a limited time. This is yet another piece of evidence of Valve’s commitment to customer satisfaction and increasing brand loyalty.

So what have we learned? Steam on Mac is fantastic and a must-download for Mac whatever kind of gamer you are. We’ve also learned that it is possible to be a successful game developer and publisher and make a lot of money, while also treating your fans well and giving away content, as opposed to charging for every single thing you release after the launch of a game.

Activision and EA among others, take note.


Valve keep screwing me on prices by a lo…

Valve keep screwing me on prices by a lot. Dirt, Grid and L4D2 are a lot cheaper. Buy if you can.