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Valve games, Steam headed to Macs

Valve announces that its gaming service, Steam, is coming to the Mac platform, and the future will bring simultaneous releases of games for both PCs and Macs.

Thanks to Valve's Steam, gaming on the Mac will be very much alive. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

It looks like gamers can finally start taking the Mac platform seriously. Confirming recent stirrings, Valve announced Monday that it will bring its gaming service Steam, and Source, its proprietary gaming engine, to Macs.

Started in 2003, Valve is now arguably the biggest online distributor of games. By last month, Valve revealed that it had more than 25 million active Steam user accounts and, at any given time, about 2 million gamers are using the service. There are more than 1,000 games available on Steam. Not all of them will be immediately available on the Mac platform as this will depend on developers.

According to Valve, Steamworks for the Mac supports all of the Steamworks APIs, and a new feature, called Steam Play, allows customers who purchase the product for the Mac or Windows to play on the other platform free of charge. This means a gamer can play the PC version of a game via Steam Play, then continue on the Mac version without having to pay extra.

Valve's library includes titles it developed: Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Portal, and the Half-Life series, which will be available in April. As these games belong to Valve, they will likely be the first games ported to the Mac platform.

John Cook, director of Steam development at Valve, revealed that games will be ported to Mac as native versions, as opposed to via an emulation, and in the future Valve will release games simultaneously for Windows, Mac, and the Xbox 360. Mac and Windows players will be part of the same multiplayer universe, sharing servers, lobbies, and so forth. Cook said the first Mac Steam client is currently in beta testing.

If nothing changes, Portal 2 will be Valve's first simultaneous release for Mac and Windows. That game is due in the fourth quarter.