updated 11:29 pm EST, Thu February 7, 2013
Game download service will host Sims, Batman, more
Noting that over 17 million users of their game download service were coming to the service through iOS devices, Electronic Arts has cannily debuted a native Mac client for their Origin store that makes available many of the company's most successful titles available on the Mac, some for the first time. AppleInsider and MacNN spoke with VP of Production for EA Mike Blank about the launch of the Mac client and its implications for Mac gaming.
The service should increase the number of cross-platform offerings from EA as well as provide licenses that let players play purchased games on whatever compatible device they want. Game progress is saved in the cloud, along with friend lists -- making the portal a social as well as gaming haven. "Origin is going to allow us to get games into the hands of our consumers as quickly as we can. We want to enable our gamers to connect with their friends and to enjoy their gaming experience as quickly and directly as possible.," Blank said. "The Mac is back, and it's a growing audience of consumers that we want to be able to sell to." He added that the "single identity across devices" concept was a "core tenet" of the platform.
The new program brings dual-platform play for Mac gamers, a feature not present on the Windows version of the client. Games will have to be available as cross-platform for it to work, but it will allow Mac users who switch to a Windows PC for gaming the ability to pick up their game where they left off. Among the titles available at launch are Dragon Age 2, Batman: Arkham City, LEGO Harry Potter and The Sims 3 (SimCity, a new title, is forthcoming).
During the launch, Mac users can buy The Sims 3 and expansion pack content through the service for prices starting at $10 as part of a promotion to celebrate the game's 13th anniversary. In addition to EA titles, Origin will also offer games from publishing partners, bringing multiplayer social and gaming achievements and challenges to more than 39 million current users. Prices for Mac owners may often vary from the PC versions, but games should have feature parity.
The Origin program is recommended for use with OS X 10.6.8 or later with at least an Intel Core 2 Duo processor for the best experience. Games have their own individual requirements but will need a minimum of an Intel-based Mac with a discrete video card in order to run. Blank said the company had noticed "increased activity from our Mac gamers" and predicted that the gap between Windows and Mac game releases would continue to shorten as they have with iOS releases.
Blank also predicted that the introduction of Origin would result in "pretty significant uptake" from Mac gamers. He credits the growth in Mac gaming to iOS users who want to be able to bring their purchased games to their computer platform as well. He said that EA has seen "tremendous uptake" of EA titles on the iOS platform and noted that the company's portfolio there is very strong.
"I think you're going to start seeing some changes [in how quickly Mac versions are debuted]. Origin is the first step in a strategy you're going to start seeing coming out of EA," Blank said.