Welcome to our final look at “Where to Buy Mac Games.” Today we are going to peek at digital stores, primarily those with a Mac focus (natch). There are a number of Mac-only outlets online and some sites that offer Mac along with everything else. Some of these places are better than others, either for functionality, design, checkout process and selection. Here is the list and our impressions of each.
Aspyr’s own GameAgent Store and client is a pretty good place to shop. My favorite part is definitely the on-site Mac Match feature to see if your computer is up to running a certain game. This requires you to allow it to run first, but a click and a few moments later it will have your profile loaded. When viewing the product grid it conveniently highlights games in green that your computer can run, and puts others in gray when one of the specifications is not met. Even better you can store multiple computer profiles in your account and switch between them as you like. Something I appreciated when wondering how my MacBookAir would stack up against certain titles.
Another handy feature is price comparison links. These show the best price for the desired game across the Mac App Store, Amazon and GameAgent itself when applicable. The best price isn’t always on GA, meaning it is slightly less interested in itself (unlike most other stores) and more interested in bringing you the best price and info about the game. This is pretty cool and speaks well to Aspyr’s goal of providing a place for the community to discover and find out about games, instead of being the sole provider of them.
You can also sign up for deal alerts which is useful as it works for any of the 3 stores it pulls from. User reviews are of course present, and it’s always good to read about other gamers experiences to help your buying decisions. And it is fun to make Collections (basically lists) of games you own. The checkout process is a one-page affair making it pretty easy to use. The store is technically still in beta, so we can expect to see more features or tweaks in the future.
What I consider to be the best designed and well rounded Mac game store out there, MGS has a lot going for it. Starting with a huge gaming selection that dwarfs most, if not all other Mac game sites you will be able to find just about anything in the store. I personally find it has an excess of casual titles, but that is simply not my genre. As a web developer I appreciate the excellent website design, easy to view product pages, streamlined checkout process, rewards program and a store wallet.
More than just a store, MGS has a number of community features such as news, a forum, live chat, polls, and a new features section covering previews and interviews. (Disclaimer: I write the features there.) This is important in making the site have a true community function and not just a storefront to buy. I feel this creates a more attractive place to visit, even if you aren’t buying a game as there is plenty of other content to check out. It is definitely ambitious, but all the features are well implemented and easy to use.
There is also a top-notch MGS client app offering duplicate functionality of the website as well as being a download and account manager, and can show new release notices that plug right into 10.8′s notification system. It also serves as a system requirements checker (as the website does not do this itself) and can automatically keep your games up to date. Pretty cool overall.
Virtual Programming’s (VP) store and digital delivery system, D2Mac has a decent offering of games, some of which you can’t get elsewhere, such as The Chronicles of Riddick. I have always liked VP and their unique game library has a lot of good stuff other porting companies don’t. While that is the positive side, it mostly suffers from poor website design and limited game selection outside of their own games. They also have a client application with some nifty features. You don’t have to keep track of serial numbers anymore, you can read user manuals and it lets you install each game on up to three Macs. Nice! The issue I have had with VP as a gamer is that they aren’t particularly vocal about what they are doing or what is going on. Hopefully we will see more from the all too quiet VP in the future.
The home of Transgaming’s Cider-based games, GameTreeMac features a well designed site with a fair selection of games and sales. It won’t beat out other outlets, but it can be worth your time depending on what game you are trying to buy. I probably like their product pages the best as the way they display information is quite nice and always has a cool background image relevant to the game. Cider has a mostly deserved poor reputation on the Mac in the past, but in the last year or so has seen significant performance improvements in the technology. This means you shouldn’t be struggling to run Cider based games anymore, even if you don’t have the latest and greatest Mac. The latest Cider game would be Max Payne 3, which I highly recommend if you haven’t played it yet.
Feral Interactive Store
Feral Interactive has been a longtime favorite company of mine. They offer a fantastic variety of games and have a great store to match. With a unique site design and convenient product pages that up-sell bundled games or sequels, it’s an easy place to shop. Of course you can buy Feral’s games just about anywhere digitally. Here they also offer boxed versions of all their games along with free delivery. Awesome! If you are looking to directly support Feral the most, or just want a physical copy, then buy from their store.
Also in the UK, but offers PC & Mac games. GamersGate has a somewhat sprawling website design, but nonetheless has a good selection and frequently runs great sales. If you wish to be a repeat customer there is a rewards program to entice you.
Amazon offers some Mac games, sometimes on a great sale, but otherwise is not that notable game-wise. It does however feature the best checkout process anywhere with one-click buying and then downloading. Something I would like to see the various Mac game stores implement.
If you are in Europe and prefer a more local outlet, there are several available. Though I have little experience with these stores they should be on the list for our international fans.
For those in the UK: http://macgames.co.uk
If you speak French http://www.macgames.fr
This concludes our three-part series on Where to Buy Mac Games, a near-complete list, and what makes them great, or not. I’m sure there are a few sites I am missing that are in languages other than English, but otherwise this covers them all. Do you buy from these stores? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below and happy gaming!