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Steam For Mac: What Are The Key Features You Need To Know About?

Steam For Mac: What Are The Key Features You Need To Know About?

Mac on a table

Back in the Dark Ages – that is, 1994 – if you wanted to play Doom II on your computer, you had to load a stack of floppy disks one-by-one to install the game.

But that’s only if you had a PC.

If you had a Mac, you were out of luck and had to wait another year to play the most influential first-person shooter of that decade.

Apple has always had a problematic relationship with game developers. Part of this has to do with market share because, at best, Apple has only ever had 10% of the overall computer market.

Given that, it’s never made financial sense for game companies to quickly bring titles to the Mac. Plus, Apple has never demonstrated much long-term interest in gaming beyond it being a means to an end to demonstrate new hardware capabilities.

This all began to change with the online digital game distribution platform Steam. Steam started selling PC games in 2003, and Mac games became available in 2010.

So, what exactly is Steam? How does it work for users of the Mac operating system (OS)? What are the key features you need to know about? We’ll cover all this and more below.

What Is Steam?

Steam for Mac

Steam was developed by the Valve Corporation, a gaming company which has released successful series such as Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, and Portal. Its original purpose was to provide automatic updates for Valve games like Counter-Strike.

Valve saw the potential for online gaming sales and quickly began to make its products available via Steam in 2003. It began selling third-party games in 2005 and Mac games in 2010. By 2013, Steam controlled 75% of the online gaming sales market. In 2017, Steam earned approximately $4.3 billion and had about 4,500 Mac games available out of its more than 15,000 total titles.

Most new titles are $49.99-$59.99 although older titles are often available at deep discounts. There is a selection of free games too. There is not, however, a wide range of legacy titles. If you’re interested in those, you’ll likely have better luck at GOG.com

Users must remember Steam is a means of distributing and selling online games and is not itself a gaming platform.

Game performance and controls will vary based on the original game developer, the company which ported the game to the Mac, or another third-party application programming interface (API) developer. In some games, controls will be easy to use, but with others, you may be forced to search through settings menus to enable the gameplay you desire.   

Using Steam For Mac

The overall experience of using Steam for your Mac is much the same as for PCs: download and play games. There are, however, some elements unique to Mac users we’ll cover below.  

Installing Steam for Mac

Setting up Your Steam for Mac Account

Checking Steam for Mac Game Compatibility

Installing Free Steam for Mac Games

Purchasing Steam for Mac Games

Using the Game Library

Additional Steam User Benefits

Remember: Using Steam doesn’t just have to be downloading and playing games on your own. Additional features to create a richer gaming experience include the Steam Community and the Steam Workshop.

Steam Community

As a registered user, you’ll have the opportunity to create your own profile page for other users to see. In addition, there are hundreds of forums dedicated to specific games, platforms, and other game-related topics. You can easily connect with your friends already on Steam as well as make new ones to play online-multiplayer games.

Want to write your own game reviews? Steam lets you do that as well as rate other user reviews. Plus, you can find the latest news for upcoming games, interviews with game developers, game walkthroughs, and game-inspired user artwork.  

Steam Workshop

Ever had an idea for your own game? You can make it a reality with the tools available at the Steam Workshop. Want to make mods to existing games or create additional levels and missions? You can do that too. In addition, there’s the possibility to make money from your work if enough players find value in it. Plus, you can always download user-created games and mods for existing games like Skyrim.

Gaming Made Easy with Steam for Mac

Sure, it used to be lonely being a Mac gamer, and there was always the sense you were missing out on the opportunities PC gamers easily had available.

Thanks to Steam, that’s no longer the case, and you can be as big a player as you want in the digital gaming world.

Want to learn about other cool options for your Mac? Check out our Fun Stuff for Macs!