Opinion: Mac App Store should Leave Games Alone

The Mac’s recently-announced App Store has been causing a stir among Mac users and geeks in general. For the first time, a managed, curated application store will be the most common way to discover and download apps on a desktop platform. Developers and users are excited about the Store’s possibilities. However, I believe that the store should focus on productivity and utility apps, instead of games. This will benefit both developers and the Store itself.

Including games in the iOS App Store has worked well. However, before its introduction, no method of obtaining games existed. On the Mac, there are plenty. Perhaps the most important is through distributors such as Steam, which launched on OS X earlier this year. Apple reportedly worked with Valve, Steam’s developer, to port the store, and was rewarded with dozens of game releases new to the platform. Attempting to replace Steam would seem an affront not only to Valve, but to game developers also.

Non-entertainment apps would thrive if given the spotlight in the Mac App Store. In the iOS store, games take up a large part of Apple’s and others’ publicity, keeping more productivity/utility software in the dark. On the Mac, these apps are more capable and important. Giving them more publicity in the Store would both help developers of non-game software, and users, who can find more of these practical apps.

The App Store’s target audience is mostly casual users, non-geeks, who won’t be very interested in hardcore games. Casual games don’t work as well on computers as on mobile devices. They will have a place in the Mac App Store, but it should be a small one. Fans of hardcore games probably already have Steam or similar programs installed, or visit gaming sites on their own.

So, should games be present in the Store? I would say they should, but not as the focus. Giving productivity and utility apps more room to shine would push the Mac forward as a software platform. Perhaps games will catch on in the Mac App Store. But I hope other apps will do the same.

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