Guide to buying Mac games online

Richard Moss
22 July, 2010
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It can seem almost impossible to find Mac games at retail, but there are a plethora of choices online. Australian Macworld is here to help, so Richard Moss has checked out the options for you.

Here’s his run-down of the places to buy Mac games online, comparing both digital download services and more traditional online stores, which offer boxed products, so there’s something for every gamer.

Digital downloads

Mac Game Store / Mac Games Arcade

Pros: Can use same account for both services, huge range, excellent customer support, completely focused on Mac games.

Cons: Difficult to separate “casual” games from the rest.

Payment options: PayPal (including eCheques), credit card.

Mac Game Store (and its desktop-app version, Mac Games Arcade) stands out on this list as the only store that focuses entirely on Mac games. They currently offer more than 850 games, though at least half of these are what are typically deemed “casual”. Every game is listed with a useful description, system requirements, and a few screenshots, making this perhaps the most informative service.

You can use the same account for both Mac Game Store and Mac Games Arcade, with the only real difference between them being that one is web-based and the other runs as an application on your computer.


Pros: Cross-platform bundles, frequent sales, offers Valve’s high-profile games, unmetered downloads with some Australian ISPs.

Cons: Non-native UI, requires client application, missing many major (Mac) releases, requires internet connection for installation.

Payment options: PayPal, credit card.

Steam made a big splash when it came to the Mac earlier this year, but still has a long way to go before it duplicates its prior successes. The Steam client’s default behaviour may upset or puzzle some users, and it looks and feels quite unlike other Mac applications. However, it has frequent sales, shared servers (across platforms) for multiplayer games, a nifty feature called Steam Play (buy once, own for both platforms), and several major exclusive products (unavailable on competing services) – including Torchlight, Portal, and the Half-Life series.

Currently the service lists around 100 Mac games.


Pros: Wide range of payment options, large collection of available games, loyalty rewards program, cross-platform bundles, many games are DRM-free.

Cons: Internet access required to install games, frequent PC sales rarely extend to the Mac.

Payment options: PayPal, credit card, Money Bookers, Click and Buy.

GamersGate has a steadily growing collection of around 170 Mac games, and offers a large number of so-called “hardcore” titles that are unavailable on Steam. It also has a loyalty rewards program that credits a small percentage of the money from each transaction to a future purchase. These credits can also be earned by writing reviews or otherwise contributing positively to the GamersGate community.

Always check GamersGate before deciding where to buy.

GameTree Online

Pros: Optional download manager, big-name games available.

Cons: Limit on number of installs per game, listed titles are Cider ports, requires active internet connection to install games.

Payment options: PayPal (including eCheques) and credit card.

GameTree Online offers some of the biggest releases – Dragon Age: Origins, The Sims 3, Spore, Command & Conquer Red Alert 3, Prince of Persia – but suffers from two major shortcomings: all games listed were ported using TransGaming’s Cider technology, which is known to provide slightly worse performance and stability than Mac-native software, and there is a limit of just three installs per game.

If you can look past these problems, this is a great service with some games that are hard to find on the Mac.


Pros: Prices are listed in three different currencies, decent range.

Cons: Nearly all games listed are made by Virtual Programming, website is slow.

Payment options: PayPal (including eCheques) and credit card.

Deliver2Mac is Virtual Programming’s digital download service, but it also sells a handful of games by other companies. Unfortunately, the website is slow and bloated, with excessive use of javascript.

Almost all games listed here can be bought elsewhere, but the prices are sometimes cheaper.


Pros: Competitive pricing.

Cons: Cannot purchase with Australian billing address, Mac and PC versions of games are sold separately.

Payment options: International credit card (Australian credit cards are locked out of the service).

There isn’t much reason for you to be using Direct2Drive to buy Mac games. It lists just 44 titles and keeps Mac and PC versions separate. But more to the point, Direct2Drive employs a region lock-out – you need a North American, British, or European billing address to purchase games from the service.

Direct from publishers or developers

Pros: Money goes straight to the game’s creators.

Cons: Must juggle more online store accounts, less frequent sales.

Payment options: Vary from one site to another. Usually either credit card or PayPal (or both).

A number of developers and publishers offer purchase direct from their website.

Aspyr’s GameAgent is more trouble than it’s worth, with region locking that prevents Australian purchases, poor customer support, and a highly unstable client application.

Ambrosia Software, Freeverse, and Spiderweb Software offer digital versions of all their games for purchase direct from their respective websites, though only Ambrosia and Spiderweb accept PayPal.

Feral Interactive does not provide a digital download service, but instead offers free shipping and pricing below RRP for boxed copies of their games.

Most smaller developers also accept direct orders via their websites, with some of them selling their games through this method only.

Boxed products

Games Warehouse

Pros: Excellent customer support, large range, several payment options, Australian-owned, pickup available for Sydney-based customers.

Cons: Pricing typically much higher than digital download stores.

Payment options: Direct deposit (bank transfer), credit card, cheque (delivery orders only), money order (delivery orders only), EFTPOS (pickup orders only), cash (pickup orders only).

Games Warehouse stocks educational and kid’s games as well as more “hardcore” titles. They have an impressive range of titles – both new and old – and offer great customer support, but their prices are sometimes high, and they charge a flat rate $6 shipping per order.

Games 101

Pros: Excellent range, several payment options, Australian-owned.

Cons: Pricing typically much higher than digital download stores.

Payment options: PayPal (including eCheques), credit card, direct deposit (bank transfer), cheque, and money order.

Games 101 doesn’t stock as many games as Games Warehouse, but has a few titles that its competitors are missing. Prices typically fall just below RRP, and shipping costs $5.95 per order.

Apple Store

Pros: Free shipping, fast delivery.

Cons: Limited range, credit card only, prices are at RRP.

Payment options: Credit card, gift card.

The official online Apple Store stocks a measly 43 games, several of which are expansions for The Sims 2 and The Sims 3. Its prices are at RRP, but free shipping is provided. I’d only recommend considering this option if you’re buying something else from the store.


Pros: Excellent range, Australian-owned.

Cons: Inaccurate stock-list, variable shipping cost, pricing typically much higher than digital download stores.

Payment options: Credit card.

Based in Hawthorn (Melbourne), Streetwise is one of the largest Apple stores in the country. They offer a comparable range of games to Games 101, with slightly better prices, but higher delivery costs and a less accurate stock-list.


Pros: Can occasionally get a great deal.

Cons: Can be risky, product range and prices vary wildly.

Payment options: Varies from seller to seller. Usually PayPal, sometimes others.

You never know what you might find on eBay, so always make sure you check it before confirming an order, just in case there’s a better deal. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell whether a product listed as new actually is, or even whether it is a legitimate copy of the game. Use at your own risk.

Australian Macworld’s buying advice

If you don’t mind not having a physical product to put on your shelf, it’s hard to go past GamersGate, Mac Game Store, and Steam for pricing and availability. None of these three stores accept bank transfer or money order, but if you have a PayPal account you can always transfer money to that first, then pay.

If you just can’t live without the boxed product, make sure to always check Games Warehouse and Games 101, as they have a better range (and usually have a cheaper price) than the brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Whatever your preference, make sure to always shop around. There is no one store that is always cheapest, and not every store offers every game. Now you know where to look, you should have no trouble tracking down your favourite Mac games at a reasonable price.

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