What Steve Jobs Did Wrong, Part 2
November 7th, 2000

When we last left our pathetic duo, Gary was expressing his thoughts on why the iMac may have missed on some important gaming hardware issues, and Randy was about to be fragged by the new neighbor across the street for peeping at her Virgo Super Cluster.

Randy: Look out man.

Gary: Quick hide behind the Windows machine.

(Two shots sound off as the Idiots cave is filled with ricocheting bullets.)

Randy: Whew! Man, that was close. I guess we finally found a use for that cranky old Windows machine. And it's a good thing it's so damn big too.

Gary: But I don't think it will ever boot up again.

Randy: Hey it never did before, because it's Windows!

Gary: Hey cut the jokes and hide the telescope. That girl across the way can still see us.

Randy: And so can our readers, so lets get on with the rest of this column. Shall we?

Gary: Well I said my piece last time about how I think Cap'n Steve missed the boat on getting the best gaming hardware into the iMac product line.

Randy: I wouldn't completely agree there. True, the first few revs of the iMac family had some pretty weak graphics systems. A measly ATI Rage Pro chipset kept the early iMacs from competing with the big time gamers. But more recent versions of the iMac now include the mobile edition of ATI's 128 Rage graphics chipset. However for Voodoo graphics fans the iMac leaves you flat.

Gary: This is where my idea of a Build-To-Order option on the Voodoo card for the iMac would help out the issue of gaming on the little computer that could.

Randy: While that would open some better game performance on the iMac, I don't know if it would directly sell more game titles. And that's really what we started this column to be all about, how to sell more game titles for the Mac platform.

Gary: Yes, that, and the woman, er, galaxy across the street.

Randy: But I think the problem of getting more game titles sold on the Mac is not about hardware. It's about retail.

Gary: But Apple has really done great things with getting Mac products back into the public's eye. Apple's store within a store concept has gotten the Mac back in retail stores and Apple's own online store is kicking butt.

Randy: But how about software? And more specifically, game software?

Gary: Huh, well CompUSA has the three top selling games from last year for the Mac.

Randy: My point exactly. Retail stores where most computer consumers shop carry almost nothing but Windows software and console game titles. The Mac software section in these stores sucks.

Gary: But all the great new game titles for the Mac are available from online stores, like Mac-O-Rama, Small Dog Electronics and MacMall.

Randy: Well, we know that. But does the Mom and Dad who just bought their kid a new iMac from CompUSA? I don't think so. All they see is what's on the shelves of that store.

Gary: True, true. I can't think of how many time readers and even our clients ask me where to buy Mac software. If they don't see it at their local Staples then they don't think it exists.

Randy: And that's the root of the problem. In the last few years millions and millions of iMacs have been sold. So why haven't there been millions of game titles sold for the Mac?

Gary: Oh wait, I know this one. Because they don't know these games are available for the Mac!

Randy: Ding, ding, ding! Right you are. I think you are starting to see my point of view. It's is a sad fact that games that are run away successes on the PC side sell in the millions of copies, while the same titles that are lucky enough to make it to the Mac side, only sell in the tens of thousands.

Gary: Yeah, I've heard that if a Mac version of a game sells just 50,000 copies that it's considered a good seller. You have to sell several million copies of a Windows game to even be considered a blip on the sales radar.

Randy: It makes you understand why so many game developers don't spend the resources and money to make Mac versions of their games. It's almost impossible to recoup your investment.

Gary: And it makes you respect the brave companies who do take the chance and develop their games for the Mac. So what's your plan to sell more Mac games.

Randy: First and foremost, get them on the retail shelves right next to the iMacs and Power Macs. Every store within a store should have an awesome display of the latest Mac games and maybe even some game peripherals too.

Gary: But don't they have that now.

Randy: Fat chance. The local CompUSA Superstore here in New York has only a half dozen games for the Mac. And all of those are at least a year old. There's no Tomb Raider The Last Revelation, no Diablo II, no Baldur's Gate. Just an old copy of Quake II and a dusty copy of Unreal Tournament.

Gary: I see what you mean.

Randy: No don't get me wrong. Apple is working on this problem. Slowly, but surely. And it's no easy feat. Retail is a cutthroat world and high numbers control the shelf space. To that end Apple now has a games software section right on their own web site. You can grab a copy of all the latest and greatest Mac games right at the Apple Store.

Gary: Well that's pretty cool.

Randy: But Apple can do some more simple things to get customers in the know about where all the great Mac games are available. For instance, they could include some pre-configured toolbar bookmarks on all preinstalled web browsers like a link to the Mac Gamer's Ledge and Inside Mac Games web sites. And links to all the vendors and developers who sell games for the Mac.

Gary: They currently do include a link to the Mac Gamer's Ledge in the preinstalled Netscape. But it's buried in the Mac publications bookmarks. Putting links right on the toolbar would really get newbies to click them and explore.

Randy: And my final suggestion would be to the gamers out there. Say it with me Gary…


Gary: How many times do we have to say that?

About as many times as that woman across the street will have to shoot at us for peeping at her … nebulas.

Gary: I suppose. Well grab the Kevlar vests and give me the telescope. It's going to be a long day. Let's hope Apple steps up it's gaming commitment. And let's hope our new neighbor's ammo can't pierce a Windoze box.