I just reinstalled Steam to find 80% of my library no longer works for me

Damn you Apple

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not much of a mouse & keyboard gamer. For starters, I’ve been a member of the cult of Mac since high school, going from an eMac to a Mac Mini to my current MacBook Pro. This spring, I’m trading in my current rig for one of those dope ass iMacs. In the same time I’ve been tethering myself to hardware out of One Infinite Loop, handheld devices have provided me with a majority of my gaming experiences with select other titles strewn throughout.

The pendulum started to turn the other way about six years ago. Steam launched for Mac OS X in 2010. I downloaded it right away for the free copy of Portal, but didn’t do too much with the client as World of Warcraft was my current obsession. When I upgraded to my current MacBook, a coworker goaded me into going all-in with Steam. With increased Mac OS support from developers and cheap-ass prices from Steam Sales and various Humble Bundles, my library exploded from just a couple of games into a collection that easily dwarfed every other gaming device I owned.

Today, I logged into my Steam account to find a majority of that collection no longer works.


It’s not a total surprise some of my Steam games are no longer compatible with my laptop. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, for instance, became unplayable back in 2018 due to a DRM issue. But that’s much different than what’s going on with the rest of my library. Apple warned people for quite some time it was dropping support for 32-bit software, similar to what happened to iPhones and iPads back in 2017. If I didn’t want to lose access to all these games, I simply had to avoid upgrading my OS to the current Catalina version.

But by the time these warning bells were sounding, I’d regressed to my previous position as a primarily handheld gamer. My Steam library sat dormant for three years, and when that Catalina update was ready, I downloaded it without a second thought.

Now I’m having second thoughts. Today, following the sudden urge to play some Lovely Planet, I discovered Steam was no longer compatible with my Mac. It was then and only then I remembered the loss of support for 32-bit architecture. As I updated the client, I prepared myself for the very real possibility that I’d lose the ability to play a few of my games. A couple maybe. A handful at most. Surely the majority of my library would be 64-bit, right?

Lovely Planet

As evident by the title of this piece, that’s obviously not the case. It’s not a couple or a handful. Nearly my entire damn library is incompatible with my computer, each lost title marked with an interdictory circle. I’m not shedding any tears over not being able to play something like Cat President or Super Seducer again. In fact, Apple is probably doing me a favor there.

But The Stanley ParableShadowrun Returns? Doki Doki Literature Club? Scrolling through my library, it became clear just how much this update cost me. Hundreds of games no longer work, but let me just list a choice few:

  • Half-Life 2
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Grim Fandango Remastered
  • Hollow Knight
  • Hotline Miami
  • Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
  • Magicka 2
  • Portal & Portal 2
  • Octodad
  • Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
  • Skullgirls
  • Undertale
  • The Witcher & The Witcher II

It’s an absolute crapshoot as to what still works and what doesn’t. None of my Telltale games are compatible, but I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream somehow is. Gone Home is all good, while The Beginner’s Guide is a non-starter. Dear Esther: Landmark Edition won’t run on my laptop, but the original Dear Esther will.

Dear Esther

I take solace in the fact I’ve already purchased a few of those lost titles on other devices. I did have plans to play some of my Steam collection this year. That’ll be somewhat doable with games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Sunless Skies still operating on my OS. But when those are moved to my completed pile, I’m going to have to start thinking hard about what I want to do with the rest of that library. I could always run Bootcamp on my next Mac and restore access to those lost games, as well as the Windows-only titles I’ve amassed over the years. It would be nice to finally see what Alan Wake is all about.

Or I could use it as an excuse to let go of it all, admitting I was foolish to spend literally tens of dollars on hundreds of games with temerarious abandon. I didn’t have enough time for them then and I certainly have no time in my life now for something like Wizardry 8 or Never Alone. Maybe my Steam library should exist only as a reminder of the futility of trying to play everything; that owning many games provides only cursory happiness while true bliss is found in actually having the time to experience these adventures.

Nah. I’ll just buy a gaming PC and continue to lie to myself about clearing out that backlog.

CJ Andriessen
Just what the internet needs: yet another white guy writing about video games.