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The Back Page
by Bryan Chaffin

It's Been A Great Christmas
December 24th, 1999

Christmas is tomorrow. Can you believe that another Christmas is here already? I find it to be pretty amazing. It was a year ago (December 28th, 1998) that we changed the name of the magazine to The Mac Observer. It was almost a year ago that the Blue & White G3 was introduced. Since then we have seen a flurry of new products from Apple (iBook, new PowerBooks, iMac DV, PowerMac G4), and more new software titles than one can shake a stick at (go ahead and try it). Yeah, it's been a good year, it's just gone by too fast.

Here we find ourselves in the Holiday season though, no matter how fast or slow the time has gone by for you. I find that this has so far been among the best holiday seasons I have ever enjoyed, and at least some part of that has to do with the turn around of the Macintosh industry.

Of course, I am also finished with all my holiday shopping. That always helps to make the season a bit merrier. I even finished my shopping early this year. I never get finished early with my holiday shopping. There have even been years where I didn't finish at all (hey Sis, I really am going to buy that last present from a couple of years ago, I promise!). But this year I am all set. Mind you, I haven't actually wrapped my presents yet, but let's take this one step at a time. Is there a 12-step program for shopping procrastination? Besides, I have all day tomorrow to wrap them...

Anyway, while I was doing my shopping, I noticed something very weird at CompUSA. The CompUSA units in Austin, TX are the exception, rather than the rule, and usually have their Mac sections in order. It's not always easy to find someone to help you, but there is always product stocked, demo units running (almost always properly), and a generally less negative experience than so many Observers have reported to us from other parts of the country during the last few years.

While I was doing this shopping, and of course I was shopping for other people (ahem), I noticed that there was something unusual in the game section of CompUSA's Mac software area. It was somewhat discombobulating, but there were all these games available. Lots of them. More new games than I have ever seen for the Mac. Rainbow 6, Fly!, Descent 3, Tomb Raider III, Madden NFL, a couple of Star Trek titles, Warcraft 2: Edition, Total Annihilation, and several others were all staring me in the face. It was somewhat of a minor epiphany to realize what kind of change in direction this represented. We have whined for years about how the gaming industry was blowing us off, but the industry has started to change.

Don't get me wrong. The Mac gaming industry is still utterly anemic compared to our PC brethren, but I even had the option of buying a Voodoo 3 card off the shelf! This is a far cry from where we were a year ago, and I don't think we are finished yet.

On the bad side, this is probably the most the Mac market can support until our market share and/or over all sales numbers grow significantly. In fact, I will take the opportunity to preach on one of my favorite subjects. Go buy some Mac games. If you play games, go take the time and treat yourself. If you are reading this early enough on Christmas Eve that you can still head to a store and pick up one last present, go buy a game, or two! Many developers have put major resources on the line during the last 18 months to bring Mac versions of their offerings to market. If they don't see a good return on that investment, you can bet your last dollar that they will wash their hands of the Mac for good. The bottom line drives game developers as much as it does any company that needs to pay the bills.

And if you are a Mac gamer who is playing on pirated software, you are part of the problem, not the solution. If you don't pay for your Mac games, you won't have any more to steal (it is theft, no matter how you try to gussy it up) in the future. So, go reward those developers and plop your money on the counter!

My gaming mantra aside though, this has been a great year and seeing all those Mac game titles staring me in the face will probably be one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received. For this I will say thank you to Apple, Steve Jobs, the Apple Game Evangelists, the developers, Bungie (who are somewhat late with Oni, and where is Halo!?!), and all the Mac gamers who have bought a new game! Merry Christmas all!

Your comments are welcomed.

began using Apple computers in 1983 in a high school BASIC programming class. He started using Macs in 1990 when the Kinko's guy taught him how to use Aldus PageMaker, finally buying a Power Computing Power 100 in 1995. Today, Bryan is the Editor of The Mac Observer, and has contributed to the print versions of MacAddict and MacFormat (UK).

You can send your comments directly to him, or you can also post your comments below.

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