I think it will help. What it's doing is giving developers a cheaper way of publishing and distributing games for the Mac. While it doesn't mean we will get every random hot new PC/Xbox/PS3/Wii game in HD... etc, I think it will deliver on 2 fronts:
- Valve now makes Mac games (a big developer has entered the scene... not that I care for their games.)
- I think we will see more Mac games at better prices, particularly indie games.
Re: my second point, as we are seeing, steam isn't all about rad new 3d games. I don't think PC gaming is these days either since M$ decided that Xbox gaming is where it's all at (they are getting the same treatment as Mac gamers... if you publish for Xbox only then M$ will give you a puck load of money... so the PC is now being neglected just like the Mac.)
What's great to see with Steam is lots of cool, creative indie games and retro games being given a run. I think this is what will ultimately separate the PC from consoles in the future. I still think 1st person shooters suck without a keyboard and mouse, but nowadays it's normal to play them using a big fat awkward game controller plugged into your HD television. Personally I love keyboard and mouse games. Lots of indie games use the keyboard and mouse... so I love how Steam is packaging them all together in one place... A little like how the iTunes App store has given smaller development houses a real chance and scared Sony/Nintendo regarding the amount of games created and people playing them.
Edit: (Everything above was typed on my iPod... I can type a little better with a real keyboard.)
Just wrapping up... prices have already changed for the better. Examples:
- Torchlight, Braid, Zuma and much more = $9.99
- We're now seeing $19.99 "indie pack(s)" where Steam is bundling things together.
- For the first time ever, Mac & PC prices are EXACTLY THE SAME!! (I remember buying Diablo for $90AUD, while the same store had the PC version in a $2 bargain bin.)
Mac gaming was never equal to other platforms (and I doubt ever will be) but will a BIG new developer, and a bunch of smaller indie developers joining the Mac band wagon with prices that are exactly the same as their PC versions revitalise Mac gaming? I think it will definitely play a part. I guess that's assuming that Mac gaming's in a slump right now too. I'd argue it's not in a slump.
Gaming is changing... I think gaming on your PC is being cannibalised by the Xbox (in an attempt to slay Nintendo/Sony... which sux... already killed out Sega consoles.) This trend will continue, and I will never be part of it. I'm a "hardcore casual gamer" if that makes any sense? Now that I have the money to buy an HD television with whatever console/games I want, I don't want any of those things. Even if I did, with a wife/kid I simply can't go off into another world killing bad guys for 10+ hours a day down in the den with a huge TV, phat sound system and lots of geeky gear.
The kind of Mac gaming I like is erupting though. On my MacBook Pro/iPod Touch I can emulate ANYTHING I want (bar an Xbox... on damn... I love them so much...) Also, I can play lots of re-makes of retro favourites that have been modernised (thank you Lucas Arts!) To put the icing on the cake... there's a bunch of great new indie games coming out.
Steam's going to be a big part of gaming for me, and I have no doubt will revitalise my interest in Mac gaming as we see more classic remakes, indie games and big name developers on board. Maybe the new Dreamfall?
(Or am I dreaming? ha... ha... okay not funny.)
Edit #2: Shameless plug... I just had a rant about this topic at Rant a Day.