Mac users are most likely to play games that have been ported to the Mac, though Playstations remain the console of choice, a recent Macworld Online survey reveals.

"I tend to have given up on Mac games as getting a Playstation and then some second-hand games turned out to be more cost effective," one reader remarked.

Console gaming leads the pack

Because they are completely dedicated to gaming, consoles accounted for 32 per cent of the votes (825 readers) for preferred games platform (Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo, Other).

"Since I moved to Mac OS X I don't really play anything. Not because I don't want to play games on the Mac but because I bought a GameCube before I bought OS X and Nintendo still has the magic for me," a reader remarked.

"Gaming is a living room thing, on the Xbox, Dreamcast or Nintendo DS," another reader remarked.

"I tend to eventually own all the video game consoles, I buy one and then as prices drop I eventually buy the others," one reader explained.

Games market seen as critical to Mac

According to our survey, games matter to the Mac; they offer a gateway for new users, particularly younger ones.

Despite their importance, they aren't for everyone, and one Macworld Online reader explained why: "You get to a certain age and realise spending time on computer games doesn't pay the mortgage."

"I can't be bothered with PC/Mac-based games these days. I spend enough time in front of the Mac as it is - I don't want to play games on it," said another.

Readers believe Apple must address the gaming market, with an astonishing 6 per cent (151 readers) of Macworld Online voters turning to a Windows box when they want to play.

Advantage PCs

A reader observed: "I think there is a large percentage of younger PC users that buy a PCs with the thought they can play games on them.

"Who can say how important grabbing the hearts and minds of the young market is, especially when they start to make their own purchasing decisions later."

"The games market often greatly influences a person's choice of computer and shouldn't be dismissed. I think it's one of the main reasons why PCs are preferred to Macs inside most peoples homes," observed another.

Parity between Mac and PC gaming titles remains a complaint. "I have loads of games, but that's why I still have a PC. I do still buy the odd Mac version of games. I'm sure if I had the option to have the same game on a Mac and with the same functionality, then I would be happy," one frustrated Mac gamer commented.

Many consider Apple's release of Boot Camp in the next version of OS X will make some traditional PC buyers make a Mac choice, as they will still be able to play PC games - but on a Mac.

Strategic options - multiple choices

What else can Apple do to turn the tide? One reader suggests the company could ship its own games console, perhaps based on G5 processors. (The Playstation 3 is based on a PowerPC processor from IBM, called 'Cell').

A games development engine in Xcode, and adding games console features, including rentable network games and iSight integration are also seen as potential games development paths for the company, which is rumoured to be hiring games developers for the iPod.

Some Mac games have become legendary. Many Mac users remember the titles that emerged from Bungie Studios, before the company was bought out by Microsoft to lead development of Xbox titles, including Halo.

"The only game I play is Marathon, a game written especially for the Mac. It may not have the latest eye-candy graphics but the gameplay - particularly against human opponents is outstanding and that's what matters," one reader wrote.

"When I first played Halo I couldn't believe how much it felt like Marathon," observed another.

Poll Results: I am more likely to play computer games...
Total vote: 2,432 readers

Specially ported for Mac: (783) 32 per cent;
PC games on Mac via Boot Camp: (159) 7 per cent;
On a PC: (151) 6 per cent;
On a PlayStation: (381) 16 per cent;
On an Xbox: (188) 8 per cent;
On a Nintendo: (222) 9 per cent;
On something else: (34) 1 per cent;
Never: (514) 21 per cent.