Valve's popular Steam content distribution service looks to be getting competition on the Mac, with games publishers looking to Apple's Mac App Store as the next big thing for digital distribution.
Steam, which launched for Mac systems back in May of last year, allows gamers to browse, buy, download, and play a selection of games - and while the selection available for Windows-based systems is significantly bigger than that open to Mac users, it remains one of the most popular digital game distribution platforms for the fruit-themed OS.
Apple's recently launched Mac App Store is proving a draw for publishers and consumers alike, however. Taking the company's proven App Store model from its iOS devices and scaling it up to distribute full-sized games and applications for desktop and laptop devices, it has one major benefit lacking from Valve's Steam: the Apple brand.
While initial uptake is slow, games publisher Aspyr has dropped a pair of titles onto the service to test the water: first-person shooter Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and turn-based strategy game Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization.
While not the most recent of releases, both games are still popular - but Aspyr's pricing could mean that the experiment fails before it has even begun: Call of Duty 4 has been priced at a whopping $49.99 on the Mac App Store - a $20 premium over buying the same game via Steam for Windows.
Unfortunately for Mac gamers, Valve's Steam doesn't yet carry Call of Duty 4 for Mac OS - meaning that the Mac App Store is the only place to get their fix of testosterone-fuelled run-and-gun action.
With digital distribution expected to overshadow physical games sales in 2011 - a trend which is unlikely to reverse - Mac users will be hoping that the initial price premium will settle down as more publishers adopt the Mac App Store.