Mac users funded the PC development of System Shock Remake. Despite crowdfunded promises, they'll now never get a version for Apple's devices

System Shock
(Image credit: Nightdive Studios)

Nightdive Studios, the team behind the positively received System Shock remake of last year, has confirmed in its Kickstarter for the project that the Mac port is now canceled. Despite partially funding the project, Mac users have been left out in the virtual cold — and the story might be more complicated than we think. 

System Shock is an important game for Mac and PC gamers. Originally launching way back in 1994, it puts you in the shoes of a hacker who must uncover information on SHODAN, an AI that controls a space station you’re trapped on. Tapping into the fears of computers, AI, and the millennium that movies like The Matrix would later build on, it is widely seen as the progenitor of all immersive sims — a genre known for high levels of player exploration and creativity. More importantly, it's one of a few high-profile games from its era that launched on Mac.

This is why, when the Kickstarter page went live to fund a remake in 2016, Mac users lined up to support it. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform used to pitch ideas directly to customers, who can put money down in order to get a product at a later date. In order to drum up more support, companies tend to set stretch goals, which give extra rewards if enough money is put upfront to back a project. As a stretch goal for the System Shock remake, Nightdive Studios promised that if the project managed to pull in $1.1 million, it would release a Mac and Linux port. Unfortunately for many excited Mac and Linux users, an update to the Kickstarter confirms that the Mac and Linux port has been canceled. As you might expect, some of the game's backers are not happy about this. 

Taking to the comments section on the update, one user says ”MacOS and Linux support was literally the first stretch goal. I'm not surprised at this point but disappointed. Can we at least get a statement on what the decision process was to remove this so late?” With the remake launching last year and the console port coming out this month, Nightdive Studios’ decision not to tell backers until now does seem peculiar. 

Tapping into how important the game is for Mac users, one comment says “Ironically, I think my first ever experience of System Shock was the enhanced demo on the Mac”. Another said, “Yeah, looks like I won't be playing the remake. Fun.” Many of those disappointed are paying customers who have now put money down for something they will never be able to play. 

Is there more to this story?


(Image credit: LocalThunk)

We don’t have any official word on why the Mac and Linux ports were canceled. However, we have a few guesses based on broader trends in the gaming industry. It’s worth noting that this Kickstarter was successfully backed in 2016 and the gaming landscape has changed significantly since then. First, the pandemic starting in 2020 impacted all developers, as many have entirely shut down since then and others have had to adjust their workflow and release dates. Secondly, Apple’s line of M chips launched in 2020. Based on an entirely new architecture, moving away from Intel processors meant that developers now had to develop their games separately for pre and post-2020 models. 

This is a problem that also came through in my conversation with Balatro developer LocalThunk. He told me that “99% of the reason I tried creating a Mac port at all was for my friend Jeremy.” It was a passion project and not something driven by money. Bigger teams pulling in millions of dollars before launch don’t have that same ability. 

He continued “There are a litany of really good reasons to not make a game for Mac, especially as a solo dev.” A Windows-based Steam version is practically necessary for a game to do well on PC, which means you have to build at least two versions of the game: one for Windows PCs and one for Macs. Then, you have to build two different versions for Mac to get to a wider audience — one for Intel, and one for Apple Silicon.

LocalThunk told me “If Mac was equally easy to develop a game for it’d already be a hard sell, but some of those reasons actually make it quite a bit harder”.

We don’t yet know if the swap to M chips has impacted development but it’s one possible reason, as Nightdive has not been transparent with the reasoning so far. Regardless of why it's been canceled, players have paid for a game on Kickstarter, and not received that game. 

Nightdive Studios could not have predicted those major factors but it is still on the developer and publisher to make sure it is giving the product it is promising. Even if the swap to M chips contributed to this failure to deliver, Nightdive has also gone back on its promise to build a Linux port of the game. 

As a comment on Reddit puts it, “If I put money in specifically to try to get the macOS port, I'd demand my money back for lying after the goal was made.”

We have reached out to Nightdive Studios for clarity on its decision.

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James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.