updated 01:00 am EDT, Wed September 19, 2012
Arrives just weeks after PC version, needs Core i5 or later
In an unusual move, ArenaNet has made a beta release of Guild Wars 2, a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game, available to gamers with a select class of Mac machines, mostly very recent releases with beefy video cards. The beta comes just a few weeks after the release of the Windows version, using Transgaming's Cider technology to make the port possible. While Mac users have been able to play the game using Boot Camp or virtualizers, a platform-specific release is welcome news.
Though some big-name games make a point of simultaneous releases for both platforms, most often Mac users must wait months to get native versions of popular titles, though as a consolation the later releases often have at least some of the expansion packs included in the cost of the game. The new Mac beta, by virtue of being a port, is already compatible with the company's game servers -- but ArenaNet says the program is labelled as a beta for a reason, with issues and bugs that have yet to be resolved.
Still, the beta version will allow Mac gamers to play alongside Windows-using teammates, and that updates and future expansions should arrive simultaneously for both platforms. New players will need to obtain an activated game code before being able to download the beta.
The game's requirements are steep even by Mac gaming standards, with only a handful of recent models qualified for the beta. The program runs on OS X Lion or later, and requires a Core i5 or better Intel processor. Machines will need 4GB of RAM or more, 25GB of available free disk space and the Intel HD 3000 chipset or the NVIDIA GeForce 320M. The ATI Radeon HD 6630M is also supported.
This means that the only Macs capable of running the game -- at least in its present rough port form -- are the Mid-2010 and later iMacs, the Mid-2010 and later MacBook Pros, and the Mid-2011 Mac mini, according to ArenaNet. The Windows version of the game, which has lower system requirements, will continue to be the best option for gamers whose Macs aren't quite up to the specs required for the beta.
Arenanet, in its announcement of the beta, mentioned that the Mac version is the first time the game has expanded beyond Windows, and that it is pleased to offer the game to Mac users since "it introduces the game to an entire group of payers who are often ignored by game developers." The company cautions that players should "understand that your overall experience will be better when we release the final version," though a firm date for this has not yet been set.