Mac OS X Lion
For years, owning a Mac meant you went without playing the hottest games around. But the introduction of Intel-based systems and the release of OS X Snow Leopard helped to change that. Today gamers can get their hands on some of the best titles—just not all of them. The problem is that many of the hottest games depend on the use of Microsoft’s Direct X software, making them incompatible with OS X. To make them compatible, game developers have to substantially alter their games’ software.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some great games available to Mac users. Valve Software, for example, offers a variety of some of its most cherished titles, such as Half Life and Portal for Mac. Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of the smash hit World of Warcraft, has also made Mac-specific versions of its titles. The Mac App Store’s ease of discovery helps, but Apple simply isn’t as strong in gaming on the desktop as it is in mobile.
Windows has been the go-to operating system for game developers for years, and gamers know it. The vast majority of titles on the market are Windows exclusives, and this holiday season will add to that with the release of Bethesda Softwork’s Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Id Software’s Rage, and DICE’s Battlefield 3. Add to that the number of legacy games playable on Windows 7 and you’ve got a large enough game library to keep you busy for quite a long time. In addition, Microsoft’s Games for Windows Marketplace gives users an easy way to purchase games online and try demos.
To play the most demanding games smoothly, users will need a powerful system, and Windows 7 gamers have access to more affordable hardware than Mac users. A Windows 7-based gaming rig capable of playing the most graphically demanding games—such as Alienware’s 17-inch M17x equipped with a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics chip—will cost you about $2,000. An equivalent 17-inch MacBook Pro rings in at a decidedly higher $2,699. That’s a hefty chunk of change and a clear positive for Windows 7 users.
The sheer volume of available games remains one of Windows’ strengths. Despite continued growth, Mac OS X’s game selection still lags.