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  Editorial: Halo: The Poison Apple?
On 08/28/03 by Mark 'Limey' Peppin

Halo, surely one of the more notable development legacies of recent times; it also has the added burden of being the death blow to the now defunct term of �Mac Gamer�. MacWorld �99, Bungie announce their newest title Halo which was surely brought to us by almighty intervention via a series of dreams to the lead designers at the Chicago based development house. The message brought to us at this convention was quite clear; they were bringing gaming to the Mac. What better time? Steve Job�s keynote speech called for designer Jason Jones to come up to the podium and show off just what Halo was capable of with the lovely new equipment Apple would be bringing to Mac users everywhere. The new Power Mac G3�s blistering 3D card along with its newfound OpenGL compatibility was finally the answer to the call for the appreciation of Mac gaming that had been left for so long unanswered. Although Apple weren�t doing all they could be for marketing the Mac as a serious gaming platform it seemed that they were definitely stepping up the plate ready to play ball. All in all, the Mac was looking to be a serious alternate gaming platform: until June 9th 2000; when it wasn�t anymore.

Mere weeks after E3 rumours were quickly circulating around the Halo enthusiast community that the unthinkable had happened and Microsoft had purchased Bungie. Though this wasn�t that much of a surprise as Microsoft had the spare cash and had been waiting in the wings looking for something to spend this cash they�d found behind their sofa to help the launch of their furniture piece console, the X-Box. By June 14th the infamous rumour mill FatBabies had picked up on this, which is almost more concrete proof than a press release half the time, one that shortly followed confirming Microsoft had in fact bought the whole kit and caboodle of Bungie for the princely sum of $50 million. They bought everything, the whole damn team, all the intellectual property, rights to the games and so forth along with relocating Bungie from their previous haunts in Chicago to their plush new settings in Redmond.

Buying Bungie, besides being an amazingly ham fistedly corporate way of going about things, provided clear advantages for Microsoft in the game of catch-up they were playing in the then $7billion console market. The release of the X-Box was running up against long lasting console names which had shipped millions of units worldwide with established fan bases and a library of games, the X-Box had to build all that from the ground up. Bungie were also working on Oni and Halo at this time for the PS-2, a buyout of Bungie gave Microsoft the opportunity to make all their console games X-Box exclusive, which they shortly did; thus denying their rivals the coverage and big bucks these new games would bring and importantly hurting their biggest rival, the Sony PS-2. The rest, as we all know, is gaming history with Halo leading the way as the first big X-Box title shifting millions of units and still tagged at the new release price of $50 nearly 2years on showing that this highly risky but a-typical move by Microsoft was an unmitigated success for the company, Bungie and the X-Box. Surely the only losers have been the PC users who have been deprived of quite possibly the best expansive team orientated shooter since Tribes? Even then Halo PC looks to come crashing into stores this fall and we will son taste the wonderful fruits of Bungie�s labour, savoured by console gamers everywhere.

Console cajoling aside, what did the Bungie buy-out really mean for Mac gaming; was it the killing hand or was their another hand to this fated story? There is no doubt the decision of big Billy Gates to once again shaft his old time sparring partner Steve Jobs, who go back long before the time Gates was shafting IBM with OS/2. It is of course nothing new for Gates� company Microsoft to take something away from Apple at the very last moment that would ensure its survival. The development of the GUI we all know and love known as windows was born of an Apple invention known as Mac OS System 2, developed whilst Gates� company MicroSoft (big �s� back in day, must have been the style) Windows whilst phasing out Mac software development. Apparently our two love birds had a tiff and it�s just never been the same since. Back to our main protagonist the ethereal Mac Gamer, even at MacWorld �99 when Halo was unleashed there was unsettling talk amongst developers. Apple were reluctant to go into a number of ventures with the developers, who had been working hard to push their teams for simultaneous PC/Mac releases, such as bundling up games with new Mac systems; a practice not uncommon with major PC retailers. A gaming bundle with each new Mac offered Mac users new to games a taste of what was out there and in theory encourages them to purchase more of them.

However Apple�s unwillingness to work with developers/publishers on this level misses out the underlying resentment that gradually built with them. They were putting all this effort into making their serious titles work with the Mac, and Apple were doing little to raise the profile of Mac gaming. Soon developers just gave up the ghost, giving up porting all but titles that were only going to give a sure profit either way and in the end giving up on the Mac altogether. Whilst the advent of the newer Power Mac G line has given Apple almost complete dominance of the digital creation niche � read movies � they have left the consumer market almost completely dominated by Windows and PC gaming. Even now Apple will refuse to admit that Mac gamers have been left high and dry, for if any ever did exist, they certainly don�t now. Was the purchase of Bungie the deathblow to Apple�s promise of Mac gaming? I think it was more Apple was the deathblow to Apple�s promise of Mac gaming, don�t you?


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#1 - Strahd - 08/28/03 @ 01:45 AM EST
I think it was a bit of both.

I hate the heavy-handed tactics of big corporations. But it is easy for them, because the masses like to stay uninformed and go with the flow.

Even if ms bought valve and made hl2 an xbox exclusive, I wouldn't buy one.
#2 - Reflex - 08/28/03 @ 04:39 AM EST
Um, Apple did not invent the GUI, Xerox did. They also invented other 'Apple' creations such as WYSIWYG printing and the mouse. They even invented Ethernet and let it walk out the door(the creator founded 3Com). Apple has not innovated much at all, what they did was popularize technologies that already existed. That *is* an accomplishment, a major one. Without them it may have been a few years before the GUI became a standard(bear in mind that Windows 1.0 was already in development when Gates was shown the MacOS).

/ As for this article, well, the main piece missing from the Mac is a standard API for gaming, like DirectX in Windows. OpenGL is nice, but it is only for graphics. There is no easy to program standardized interface for all the other aspects required for gaming(graphics, sound, input devices, networking, etc) on a Mac. As a result, developing games for the platform is more time consuming than it is for Windows.

So yes, I would agree that Apple has essentially shot themselves in the foot over this one.
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#3 - Limey - 08/28/03 @ 07:51 AM EST
Xe/ throw out their creation of GUI when Apple saw it and thought 'Hmm I'd like that', Xerox thought it was defunct at the time; Apple had other ideas.

However if you would take the time to actually read what I say I never claim Apple invented the GUI, I said that Windows was born of Mac OS System 2; mentioning nothing of who created the GUI in the first place.
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- nemarsde- 08/28/03 @ 08:31 AM EST
An interesting article. Well written too, though you could do with more paragraphs in the column inches.

/ As for the actual subject, Apple's business strategy hasn't exactly left them hard up for cash. Macs are in widespread use in the multimedia industries, and they seem to be getting more popular.

If they really thought Mac gaming was profitable avenue for the company to take, I imagine they'd invest in it. As it is, the company has never shown much interest in gaming, so maybe they just don't have that initial motivation.

One idea that did come to me, was Linux gaming. If this took off, and you had API and middleware developed for it, couldn't Apple make their OS easily compatible with these games?

If Linux became a serious contender to Windows PC gaming, and then suddenly Apple announced that it was making its next OS compatible with Linux games - well, that might reach up and tickle MS's prostate rather nicely.

Thanks for the topic of discussion, Limey.
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#5 - dougman - 08/28/03 @ 09:34 AM EST
LInux games? What linux games?
HMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
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#6 - sweetjimmy - 08/28/03 @ 10:08 AM EST
great article, limey.

I think that Oni was an excellent idea for a game (even though it wasn't executed well). It would be cool if they took it farther and brought it to the box...

what am I saying? that would take development time away from Halo2... screw that!
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#7 - Limey - 08/28/03 @ 10:43 AM EST
Problem with linux gaming is how many of your average consumers are running linux on a system that is anything comparable to what a Windows user has under the hood? I mean by Mandrake toaster ain't going to be running Doom3 anytime soon. Linux gaming is a really huge "If" I can't see being anything but an academic one.

Does anyone actually know the cost:benefit ratio for fiscal earnings for Halo and a projected one for Halo:PC? Just curious really.

Thanks sweetjimmy; perhaps we should just clone the Halo2 team. Give you a thi/"play" with.
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#8 - MoHonRi - 08/28/03 @ 11:40 AM EST

According to GameMarketWatch.com Halo sales are now upwards of 3 million units sold. at $50 a piece thats $150 Million US. So I would say that they have probably made money on the deal.

/ MoHLast Edited on 08/28/03 @ 11:41 AM EST
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#9 - Anon@24.76.110.235 - 08/28/03 @ 11:41 AM EST
/
Naturally Halo X-Box will make more money than HaloPC, and naturally MS will use that fact to tout why Halo 2 will not be coming to PC or Xbox. Of course the only reason that Halo will sell badly on PCs is because its a 2001 game being sold in 2003.

And yes, Apple shot itself in the foot continually with gaming. They offered little su/ted it, it took them WAY too long to come out with proper development environments, and they simply didnt put enough effort into it. Jobs seems to have this idea that he and his companies are the best, and everyone will flock to them, which is going to be the doom of apple, unless this G5 thing really kicks off. They've lost so much footing in the consumer market since the iMac craze wore off that it is kind of sad.

I think that Apple is relying on Linux taking off, since Linux apps just need a recompile to work with MacOS, and for games and such probably a bit of a system interface rewrite.

Finally, MS can not make another Oni, they dont own the rights. When MS bought Bungie they traded Myth and Oni to Take2 in exchange for the stock that Take2 owned (nearly 50% I think). All that MS was interested in was Halo, that was the hyped game, and that was what they wanted. Interestingly enough, however, they also kept the lisence to Marathon... what does that tell you?
Its not just "The same symbol" on the side of the Pillar of Autumn.
/
Orpheus - 08/28/03 @ 04:18 PM EST
I think it is more of an issue of Apple not being able to asuage their developers concerns when it matters.

Announcing you have a computer with OpenGL support in 1999 is like releasing a web browser that states "now with bookmarks!".

Apple is behind the times.

Besides, if there is one thing that drives the PC gaming crowd, its hardware and Unless apple makes upgrading hardware cheaper, easier, and more possible, then the mac gaming crowd is NEVER going to take off. Only way for mac to succeed in the gaming market is to release their own console.


Last Edited on 08/28/03 @ 04:19 PM ESTLast Edited on 08/28/03 @ 04:19 PM EST
#11 - Antoine - 08/28/03 @ 09:29 PM EST
Very interesting. Well written article giving quite a historical account although hard to understand for the less technically informed.Last Edited on 08/28/03 @ 09:29 PM EST
#12 - BiomeXhanoid - 08/29/03 @ 04:20 PM EST
Take2 was 20% I believe. And as for the death knell of Apple's gaming "prowess"... Apple did quite little to ENGENDER gaming on the system... and they have done squat to support either gamers or developers, at first because games were passe and no place for a computer OS to be ... fast forward to reality when gaming is an 11 billion dollar industry, and one of the key reasons for PC expansion to consumers on a massive level. Combine that with RedHat's suspiciously "corporate-y" move to what looks to me a like a proprietary "you no can have none" version of Linux.... It seems to me that MS has to do very little to do other than keep their eyes open to properties that need purchasing and continue their policy of the upwardly spiralling monodeific API to maintain a lock on non-console gaming dominance. and as someone else said, if Apple doesn't produce modular-component systems... they're never going to be taken seriously for gaming.Last Edited on 08/29/03 @ 04:22 PM EST
#13 - Austin316 - 08/29/03 @ 08:30 PM EST
three words ... one button mouse
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#14 - Anon@211.28.138.51 - 08/30/03 @ 08:49 AM EST
However if you would take the time to actually read what I say I never claim Apple invented the GUI, I said that Windows was born of Mac OS System 2; mentioning nothing of who created the GUI in the first place.

You alluded to that modern Windows that we all love and know is directly born from Mac OS. The poster you are trying to own is saying that Mac OS is born from Star OS (I think it is called Star) which was created by PARC (A Xerox R&D company).

So in reality the Modern Desktop based OS is derived from PARCs GUI.

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#15 - Anon@211.28.138.51 - 08/30/03 @ 08:51 AM EST
Problem with linux gaming is how many of your average consumers are running linux on a system that is anything comparable to what a Windows user has under the hood?

The logic flaw in this statement lies in the fact that average consumers don't even have a *nix box anyw/
Those people who run *nix as their desktop quite often run it for development reasons and most likly as "hardcore" as most gamers.
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- sweetjimmy- 08/30/03 @ 03:20 PM EST
OKAY DOOD, say "*nix" one more time, I dare you!
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- E-Z-STREET- 08/30/03 @ 09:47 PM EST
hmmm what would you have done if he said it again?
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- NOMIK- 08/31/03 @ 02:48 AM EST
Well I'm glade MS did all that for HALO
#19 - NOMIK - 08/31/03 @ 02:49 AM EST
oh & don't worry I won't say anything bout "*nix"
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#20 - NOMIK - 08/31/03 @ 02:53 AM EST
& thank GOD for apple's free download of QuickTime so I can watch RED VS BLUE
www.redvsblue.com
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