How to play PC Steam games on Mac OS X

So, Steam (a well-known game-to-computer content delivery system) recently released for Mac OS X, and as of today, only one hundred of the games available on Steam are cross-platform. It’s a start, but it’s not yet the revolution every Mac gamer would like it to be. To this end, I’ve made a short how-to so that you can play some of Steam’s PC-only games on Mac OS X.


However, this will not work with every game. In fact, you’re rather lucky if it works at all. It won’t work, for example, with games that use the Unreal 3 engine (so Mass Effect, Mirror’s Edge, UT3 are all out). Online multiplayer will not work, and Valve’s own games (running the Source engine) won’t work either, though they’re releasing their games with surprising regularity these days. The rule of thumb is that is your game was released before 2007, there’s a strong chance it’ll work.

 

Now, onward to the tutorial. I’ve done a screencast for you, but for those of you who dislike Irish accents, I’ve laid out the steps for you here (though they’re certainly not as useful as the screencast).

 

Screencast

 

 

Step-by-step

 

  1. Download the FlaxSteam zip here, and install CXZAquamarineEngine.
  2. Download your game from Steam, using the included Steam (PC) app. This is essentially the Windows version of Steam, allowing you to download Windows games.
  3. Right-click (or control-click) Steam (PC).app and select “Show Package Contents”, and do the same for Target.app.
  4. Move your game folder (usually the name of the publisher) from “Steam (PC).app/Contents/root/drive_c/Program Files/Steam/steamapps/common/“ to “Target.app/Contents/root/drive_c/Program Files/“.
  5. Now open “Target.app/Contents/Info.plist” with Property List Editor and change CXOEMWorkDir to the path of the folder that contains the game’s executable, then change CXOEMCmdLine to the path of the game’s executable.
  6. Move the contents of the included SteamDLLs folder to the folder that contains the game’s executable.

With luck, your game is now playable. No promises.

 

This couldn’t be done without the amazing Porting Team, and Wine, so credit goes to them. I encourage you to donate to them both.

About the Author

Carl Lange

I'm currently a Computer Games Development student at Carlow IT. I love programming and all things technical, and I'll learn anything if it's interesting. I'm passionate about technical education, and naturally about games. Check out my resume, and follow me on Twitter!

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84 Comments

  1. medal of honor October 17, 2010 Reply

    Lovely article dude, appreciate it. I love videogames.

  2. De-Historicus October 18, 2010 Reply

    Dudes,

    Great help, Im going to try now
    and we’ll see how it works, finally a possibility to play CS, Empire, etc

  3. thank you, i can now play star wars:KOTOR

    • Author

      You’re very welcome! KOTOR has a Mac version, though – ported (properly) by Aspyr! It doesn’t work so well on Intel Macs, though – I know from experience. ;)

  4. yes, i am trying to install fallout 3 (steam version), i have completed every step except for the .dll files in the system folder. this is the reason, i cannot access the system folder. can someone please help me!

    • Author

      When you say you can’t access the system folder, what do you mean? Is there a specific error that shows up?

  5. Christian Swanson April 4, 2011 Reply

    I’m actually trying to install Deus Ex myself, but am having a problem. I followed all of your directions, but when I click on Target in the applications folder now, it reads “ERROR! Can not run! The program is missing. Did you install the program into the wrapper?” What is it referring to?

    • Author

      Are you sure that the .exe is in the right place, and that it’s pointed to correctly in the Info.plist? That’s almost always the cause of that particular error.

      • I’m having the same problem as Christian. I know the .exe is in the right place and I’ve entered the path correctly in Info.plist, but I’m still getting the error message.

        • Author

          I’m looking into it – can you show me exactly the path? (My question is whether or not for example backslashes are being used instead, escaping slashes, whatever. I’ve had a bunch of problems trying to format it correctly.)

          • Lauren June 9, 2011

            Program Files/deus ex invisible war/System/DX2Main.exe & Program Files/deus ex invisible war/System are the paths I’ve been using.

          • Author

            What version of OS X are you using?

  6. Fred McMillian April 12, 2011 Reply

    Will I be able to play Mafia II? Please give some advice to me as the offer for mafia ii ends in a few hours. Thanks!

    • Author

      I’m afraid I can’t say for sure, but I’ll hazard a guess at no. It’s been known to run, but not with this simplistic a setup. Sorry about that!

  7. Fred McMillian April 12, 2011 Reply

    Thank you Mr. Lange for sharing this with all of us!

  8. Fred McMillian May 7, 2011 Reply

    Wow thanks! I downloaded crysis (steam EA games sale) and followed all the steps and it worked perfectly on my iMac! (10.6.7, 3.6GHz intel i5, 4GB memory).

  9. There is nothing titled “steamapps” when i get to that point. I have games downloaded.

    • Author

      Can you list what’s in the Program Files/Steam folder? The game is probably there, if it’s anywhere.

  10. Does terraria work?!?

    • Author

      No idea, I’ve not tried it out. I wouldn’t be too surprised – it doesn’t look very graphically complex. Wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you though.

  11. Well im going to try Terraria but im running into the same problem that connor had, i dont see a folder named steamapps where i was directed

    • Author

      Strange… can you list the contents of the folder? Maybe Steam has changed the way it sets up its folders…

      • yea i can, lets see

        bin
        ClientRegistry.blob
        conig
        CSERHelper.dll
        dumps
        GameOverlayRenderer.dll
        GameOverlayUI.exe
        Graphics
        mss32_s.dll
        old
        Public
        resource
        skins
        Steam_61.mst
        steam_install_agreement.rtf
        Steam.dll
        Steam.exe
        steam.ico
        steam.log
        steamclient.dll
        SteamUI_1238.mst
        SteamUI.dll
        Support.url
        ThirdPartyLegaNotices.doc
        tier0_s/dll
        vstdlib_s.dll
        WriteMiniDump.exe

        • i think thats all of em, i tried to get all the capitalizing right if that matters.
          Also when i try to open the program it dosnt open, it might just be really really slow but it donst look like it is doing anything.

  12. I think I have everything right but mine comes up with “Application load error 3:0000065432″ any suggestions?

    • Author

      What game are you trying to get working? That sounds like one of those errors that a game throws up when it doesn’t work using this method. Also, what version of OS X are you using?

  13. Hi, no rush but im wondering if you have looked into the filed or what could be messing me up.

  14. I got to the login window, and put in my information, and now a window’s come up saying:

    “Could not connect to Steam network.
    This could be due to a problem with your Internet connection, or with the Steam network. Please visit http://www.steampowered.com for more info.”

    I can get on easily on my regular version of Steam, any way to get around this that you know of?

  15. I’ve tried downloading flax steam but it just keeps coming up with “Error (509)
    This account’s public links are generating too much traffic and have been temporarily disabled! ” Really want to download terraria, but I cant download your program to do it!

  16. Hello,

    I want to get the witcher 1 and 2 does anyone know if they will run on a 15 macbook pro using this method?

  17. Will dawn of war 1 work with this?

  18. Could someone set up a page where people can post whether or not certain games work on flax steam? Then we could have something to refer to before buying something which others know do not work.

  19. does this work for terraria?

    • Author

      I have no idea – however, several people have asked me in the past, and they never got back to me angrily saying that it’s not possible. I’d give it a shot, but no guarantees.

  20. Kieren Radford August 11, 2011 Reply

    NO DONT! terraria doesnt work on it. search terraria mac wrapper to find out how to run it on mac.

  21. Will this work with From Dust?

  22. Is there a plan to have this come with Lion Support? =)

    • Author

      It’s being worked on. I was intending to do an updated tutorial as soon as I got Lion, but life has gotten in the way. We haven’t even been able to work on the engine as of late. As soon as I can find some time, I will. Thanks for you interest!

  23. How long until this will be working on OS Lion? The range of mac games on steam really isn’t big enough!!!

  24. I can’t open the Steam (PC) app! I double click it in the applications folder, but it does nothing! Please help!!!

  25. Hi, I’m working on 10.7 and trying to go through this, but I can’t launch the Steam (PC) application. I installed the CXZAquamarineEngine already. When I launch the application it doesn’t do anything. Any ideas? Probably because I’m running lion, huh?

  26. when i open up the steam (PC) app it bounces on my doc then disappears please help me i am running OSX LION

  27. It says that I need steam running while I play the game so I had Steam(PC) running but it still says the same thing! HELP P,S, I’m trying to run Call of duty: MW3

  28. Trying to run a game (Sequence), I have everything correct in the info.plist file, but when I try to open Target to actually run the game, it closes with no error message. Help?

  29. I have the same problem as many of the other people before me. I installed steam (pc) and the CXZAquamarineEngine.mpkg, but when I try to open steam (pc), it pops onto the dock and then quickly goes away, and nothing comes up. Please help!

  30. Sir, you are amazing. Time for Assassin’s creed 1, Skyrim, and call of duty on mac. Fuck yeah.

    • Author

      Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched ;)
      As far as I know, this no longer works on Lion (and maybe not even on Snow Leopard). Also, I’d be very impressed if Skyrim ran at all. Hopefully it’ll work for you though!

  31. umm, when i try to go to “Steam (PC).app/Contents/root/drive_c/Program Files/Steam/steamapps/common/“ i dont have the folder steamapps… help please ?

  32. I am having the problem when it comes to the Info.plist part. I just get really confused at that part. I thought i did it right editting the CXOEMWorkdir and the CXOEMCmdLine but when i open Target, I get that same error the other people got. any help?????

  33. Im trying to run Terraria on a Mac, will this work?

    • Jacob J. March 9, 2012 Reply

      There’s already a port out for Terraria that works excellently. If I were you, I’d just use the software to download Terraria, and then find the .exe and use that with the Terraria port I just mentioned. Works like a charm.

  34. Has anyone done this with success for Empire Total War?

  35. I can’t get Steam (PC) to boot. I also have the Mac version of Steam installed. Would that be conflicting?

  36. Blantern May 11, 2012 Reply

    Does this work with Skyrim? Has anyone tried it?

  37. I was wondering will Fallout New Vegas or Fallout 3 work with this?

    • Thats exactly what I am looking for too. I have been searching the internet for maybe 2 hours now and nothing will get it working…idk if i should buy it then try because i am definitely willing to pay full price even more for it.

  38. Hoping this isn’t totally outdated. Any luck getting Assassin’s Creed Revelations up and running on this?

  39. do you reckon this will work with medieval total war 2 and any mods?

  40. J Christopher October 6, 2012 Reply

    will this work for dota 2?

  41. A really good gamer October 22, 2012 Reply

    does it work on lion 10.7?

  42. When I go to do step 4,I go through all the files, but I dont have the folder called steamapps. What do I do?

  43. Hey man, I just bought Fallout 3, perhaps stupidly, will it work?

  44. This isn’t working… The Steam (PC).app isnt working for me. Is it not updated to Mountain Lion?

  45. Do you think that APB Reloaded could run on a mac by doing this procedure?

  46. Can’t see steamapps in the steam folder!

  47. The steam pc app wont load up steam. it opens and nothing pops up and then it closes. Any ideas?

  48. Um… When are you going to update this for Mountain Lion? I am a total noob at Wine. Has anyone gotten APB: Reloaded to work? If so, you are a genius, and how?

  49. What did you do to make it work on your iMac? I’m currently trying to get it to work on my MacBook Pro but it says it can’t run because it can’t connect to the internet. I’m trying to get crysis running also

  50. Author

    I realise you’re talking to Fred McMillian, but I thought I’d pitch in. Do you have a firewall switched on? Are you behind a proxy (say, at college or school, or even work) which might block Steam or Crysis?

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