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Blizzard Entertainment Does More For Mac Gaming Than Apple

Blizzard Entertainment Does More For Mac Gaming Than Apple

by , 3:00 PM EST, December 19th, 2000

That's a stinging title, I know, but it's true. Blizzard Entertainment is doing more for Mac gaming than Apple, and I think that is sad. What is Blizzard doing, you may ask? They mention the word Macintosh in a TV ad about a computer game. That, my friends, is more than Apple seems to be doing.

I am referring to Diablo II, the smash follow-up to Diablo. Blizzard Entertainment is also the maker of such popular Mac games Warcraft (I and II), and StarCraft. Blizzard has always made their own Mac ports, and has not always been that quick to get them to market. StarCraft, for instance, came out more than a year after the PC version. Diablo II, however, was much quicker to market. In fact, it has come out so quick, Blizzard is including the fact that the game is available for the Mac in their advertising.

The TV commercial consists of several intensely good looking rendered 3D scenes (not game play scenes) of various monsters, heroes, weapons, and magic in action. It ends with the Diablo II logo blazing away in all its demonic glory. Printed next to the logo are the words "PC and Mac" while a voice over solemnly intones "Available for PC and Macintosh." With this simple sentence, Blizzard Entertainment is telling the world that the Mac is capable of playing the latest and greatest games.

What a powerful, yet subtle message to deliver to the huddled masses. "Available for Macintosh" says to every kid and parent out there that buying a Mac will still give them access to cool games. This message is one that Apple has singularly failed at delivering. Despite the fact that the number one buying criteria for most families with children is whether or not they can play games, Apple sends us images ad nauseam of Jeff Goldblum extolling the virtues of Desktop Video, with nary a mention of games.

There were a lot of game developers and publishers that sat up and took notice of the success of the iMac. In fact, there have never been as many first class games available for our platform as there are at this moment. The two factors combined do not seem to be adding up to big game sales for those brave developers and publishers who are taking a chance on the Mac. If these folks don't make money, you can bet your last ducat that we can kiss a lot of future games good-bye.

In all fairness, there has been some good gaming news from Apple such as recent updates to some of the GameSprockets. Apple is now selling 37 games at The Apple Store, a very important development, but one that has been executed in stealth mode. Instead of Jeff Goldblum dancing his way through an iMovie commercial, how about some airtime saying "Come to The Apple Store where you can find 37 top games for the Mac!" Flash some of those boxes and titles too, and see how many Macs and iMacs that sells.

iMovie is cool, but kids couldn't care less. While many parents are buying computers to make their own home movies, I think it evident that more parents look to their kids for buying advice on which computer to get. Kids want games, and the clear message in the market place is that if you want games, you want a Wintel box. Guess what folks, you can buy video editing software for the PC too. It is not as elegant or as capable as iMovie, but when has that ever mattered to the great unwashed masses teeming in the gutters and alleys with their ragged Windows machines. They don't care.

I have heard the argument that games are not important to the Mac from certain Mac users in the past. There are some who feel that because gaming should not be important, it therefore is not. This is a foolish argument that completely ignores reality. Unfortunately, it is one that Apple seems keen on maintaining, too. The truth is that gaming is important, and Apple has at least as much work to do as the good people at Aspyr, MacPlay, Gathering of Developers, MacSoft, Spider Web Entertainment, Ambrosia, Green Dragon, Westlake Interactive, Blizzard Entertainment, and any other gaming company that I may have left out. I am not criticizing the efforts of the small team of support people working on games at Apple, I am criticizing the amount of resources that Apple is putting into the effort. This includes advertising the Mac as a gaming machine, working as much as possible with game developers, and working out a BTO deal with NVIDIA to bring a GeForce2 card to the Apple Store (but that's another story for another time). Everything else seems like it is in place, and it is up to Apple to capitalize on it.

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