Macintosh Spore-ing in '08

EA to announce at Macworld that Spore for the Mac will arrive in tandem with PC edition later this year.

by

In its early stages, Electronic Arts' forthcoming and much-anticipated game Spore was code-named Sim Everything, a play on its heritage as the newest game by The Sims creator Will Wright. But now, "sim everything" has another meaning for the company: EA is set to announce Tuesday it will release Spore later this year simultaneously for PCs and Macs. (The game is also set to arrive on the Nintendo Wii and DS at an undetermined date.)

The announcement is timed to coincide with the Macworld Expo, which begins Tuesday in San Francisco. At the convention, EA will show Spore running on Macs.

In a joint announcement last year at Apple's developers conference, it was revealed that the video game giant would be bringing some of its biggest franchises to the Mac. The news that Spore will be one of those titles and that it will hit Macs at the same time as PCs is a big move for the company.

The company was not able to meet that standard with any of the games it released for the Mac last year; each Mac version ended up missing the PC launch date by weeks or months--something EA would very much like to avoid in the future.

That's why EA is fine-tuning its relationship with Toronto-based TransGaming Technologies, a company that has developed a technology that makes it relatively easy for publishers like EA to develop Mac--or Linux--versions of a game side by side the PC versions.

According to David McCombe, director of technical design for EA's strategic platforms group, TransGaming's technology effectively creates a "wrapper" that goes around a piece of software developed for the PC, allowing it to run on a Mac. "The technology wrapper goes around (the software), and traps the (code) calls native to the Windows environment, and converts them to the correct calls for Mac," McCombe said. "It's not a complete code rewrite. It's more wrapper technology with some customer work."

That means, for example, that when a piece of software, in this case, Spore, wants to do a graphics call to DirectX, TransGaming's software translates the call so that it looks instead to the Mac graphics library.

"It serves both as traffic cop and does the conversion on the fly," McCombe said.

The upshot, he added, is that from a user's standpoint, playing Spore on a Mac should be a seamless experience, with no noticeable differences from the PC version.

Spore charges players with taking their characters through a complex growth process, beginning at the primordial cell stage and moving on up the evolutionary ladder, first colonizing small areas on a single planet and eventually heading off into space to find and conquer other societies.

EA is hardly the only game company that has had issues porting PC games to Macs.

Video game technology consultant Mark DeLoura said that Ubisoft--where he was previously a technical director--also found it difficult to make the translation, despite entreaties from Apple to do so.

"The Apple guys, they were always very encouraging," DeLoura said. "'Please bring stuff to the Mac, please bring stuff to the Mac,' but they never gave us a lot of support. They're great guys, but they don't have a lot of resources, I think."

DeLoura said that Ubisoft had also experimented with TransGaming's tools, but decided in the end not to commit to them.

Is the market big enough?

A bigger issue for bringing PC games to the Mac, DeLoura added, is that publishers often don't think that the market is big enough.

"It didn't seem like we could justify porting over a hardcore shooter (game)," DeLoura said, "because as far as we could tell, those games didn't sell on the Mac."

EA, however, has decided the cost is justified. And while it has yet to decide whether it will ship different versions of Spore for PC and Mac or whether it will release both versions on a single DVD, McCombe suggested that is more of a sales or marketing question than a technical one.

In fact, EA is hoping to simultaneously release a number of titles this year on PC and Mac, and Spore may well be among the first. However, the company has yet to announce when Spore will be released.

McCombe said he hoped that EA and TransGaming have learned from their inability to get PC and Mac versions of games out at the same time last year.

"The difference here is that we have a solid version to start off of," he said. "I think both parties have learned how to" make it happen.

As for how much lead time is required to ensure that EA is able to do simultaneous launches, McCombe said, "That's a good question. We need more than we had last time, which we are now getting" with Spore and other titles planned for release this year.

"Last year was the first time going through the process with TransGaming," McCombe said, "so hopefully we have a better feel for the process."

Of course, for a huge company like EA, making the decision to release a game like Spore on the Mac at the same time as the PC version is hardly left entirely to the technical people. It is also a marketing calculation, and in the case of Spore, the company decided that it would be a smart move to ensure that Mac users believe they matter as much as PC users.

"With Spore in particular, we think the Macintosh user is somebody who is, typically, a creative individual," said Patrick Buechner, vice president of marketing for EA's Maxis division. "Part of the appeal of the Mac is that it allows you to do creative things very easily. And we think that lines up very closely with what you can do with Spore, and we think those audiences are very similar. So it just feels like a natural place for Spore to be, and we're thinking about it up front rather than as an afterthought. We want to give it the full attention."

Discussion

110 comments
shadowslayer30
shadowslayer30

Bonik, First, sorry it's taken me so long to respond, I have been quite busy lately. Second, if you have not heard, Apple has been using Intel chips...just normal Intel chips, for a few years now. The last time they used those separate chips was in the PowerPC days. The one thing I don't understand is how GPUs that are made for a system will wreck them. I've never heard of ANY case where the GPU is wrecked on the Mac, due to them being built slightly differently to accommodate the different OS. You were the one who said I would not know what Google is. I therefore proceeded to tell you why Mac users tend to look at Google quite fondly. That's all that that was countering. The only thing I disagreed with you on was the Apple's GPU cards caused them to broke, not that they used a different version of the chips. Oh and I never mentioned iPods. Who on earth would hold up 98% of gamers to satisfy the 2%? Well obviously Blizzard would. I do understand that from a strictly business standpoint, it wouldn't make much sense, however many of the gamers on the Mac become extremely loyal to companies that do feel we are at least sufficient to have games. Unlike many people who continue to degrade us irrationally, using names like Mactards. Oh and I understand your English fine, I thought that would be clear. It's what you are saying with said English that I'm not really getting. It's just not very rational. -Shadow Oh and yoshscout and Rigges, I agree with you both.

Rigges
Rigges

I use both, my job gave me a MacBook Pro, used OSX, couldn't do what I wanted it to (being a games programmer) so I installed boot camp and ran my Mac just like a PC with Windows XP (since I have an intel chip set) and now it does what I want, but it really is just acting like an expensive PC (however the company paid so I don't really care) Mac pimp themselves very well, so I give credit for that...

yoshscout
yoshscout

If you guys want to see Microsoft maintain a stronghold on the gaming market, keep ranting about how useless Mac and Linux are. Honestly, until you have really spent some time with Mac and Linux, it's easy to talk about how you think its a useless operating system for gamers. All of the issues I know of are related to Microsoft having their talons in deep in this industry. Bill openly says if you want to be successful in the business world MAKE people need you. Half the people ranting on here probably have no clue what repositories are. I'm not even gonna bother, I used to make the same comments as you guys before I knew any better.

erik1116
erik1116

why is there so much hype for this game

Kenji_Masamune
Kenji_Masamune

"the company decided that it would be a smart move to ensure that Mac users believe they matter as much as PC users." wtf? Since when do the legion of gamers give a **** about mac users? We all know that computer video games are meant for the PC (along with M$ software like office) and the other video/graphic stuff that folks use is for macs. Think someone at EA got confuse and failed to see that 99% of the gamers who buy video games play them on PCs. Maybe that would be different if all games were also created for macs, but why start now? Why this game? Play this 'hug a mac user' on a game no one cares about.

bonik
bonik

shadowslayer, By mac chips I mean, chips that can run only on mac. Mac has always had their separate chips, while everything else, windows and linux, are able to use the exact same hardware. I thought that was obvious. A PC has always been a windows box, ever since the 80s ok? Don't act like a smartass when your precious mac falls to compete, just like on tv, how mac tries to degrade pc users. "I don't even know what you are talking about. ATI and NVIDEA make specific versions of existing chips for Apple, yes" No reply needed. You said you wanted a good discussion, but then say about 3 or 4 times you don't understand what I'm talking about. At least discuss with people you understand or If you're so bored and lonely, at least research your so called 'discussion' before you spurt out things you don't seem to understand. Things like 'PC' Wtf has google and Ipod got to do with spore on the mac? Im not talking about that, is that a far reach to prove me wrong on something? That was in rebuttal to me saying that apple need special GFX mods to work. Again you seem to not understand. When you just agreed to me that apple DOES need special chips. "I'de enjoy a good discussion on the ability for Macs to play games, but I would much rather do so in a somewhat intelligent way." Now tell me, in an intelligent way... What percentage of games are sold on the mac? and... Why aren't games currently in development for the mac? If you did some research you could answer these questions by yourself. Then realize why I flamed this article in my basic level of English, which you currently don't understand as you said yourself. My main point, in which again... YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. Is.. Who on earth would hold up 98% of gamers to satisfy the 2%? If you find that so far fetched then you are one of those statistical retards that use the mac, and I feel sorry for you.

shadowslayer30
shadowslayer30

I'l acknowledge that the definition is very foggy, and the definition of the general public does not include Mac's and Linux computers. However I like to be technical sometimes :)

muppet1010
muppet1010

macs and linux's are by definition not "PC's" I know what you mean shadowslayer30... but they are not by definition :)

shadowslayer30
shadowslayer30

@Bonik Now lets see, if a Dell computer runs an Intel chip it is still a Dell computer, no? I really don't know what you mean by Mac chips at all, seeing as Apple has never produced their own chip. Lets go back to history. Before Apple chose to use Intel chips, they were using the PPC chips made by IBM and Motorola. Now IBM's used to dominate the computer market. More specifically, your "PC" market. So were Macs your "PC" then? By that standards weren't they always? I have to ask, do you consider a Linux computer a PC? I do, I consider Macs a PC, as the definition of PC is "Personal Computer." All Apple is, is a hardware company, such as Dell, HP, VooDoo, that uses other components to put together a computer in a way that they think works, and will make some money for the company. The only difference is Apple chose to also make the software for their computers. "Macs put in extra chips on the graphics cards to make sure they can't run on anything else, potentially wrecking the GPU..." I don't even know what you are talking about. ATI and NVIDEA make specific versions of existing chips for Apple, yes, but that's due to the difference of DX10 and OS X's own graphics software. Hmmm, lets see. The Google CEO is a stockholder of Apple's. They work together quite closely actually, if you havn't noticed the integration between Google Maps and the iPhone. I know and love Google quite a bit. The rest of your post is little more than an immature rant that I don't really feel the need to reply to. I'd enjoy a good discussion on the ability for Macs to play games, but I would much rather do so in a somewhat intelligent way. -Shadow

nicekitty
nicekitty

If this causes the PC version to be delayed in order to enhance some sort of public relations situation with Mac users, I think this is going to anger a lot of gamers. We have waited a LONG time to see this game. I can understand making this for Mac, but I don't understand why publishing the versions at the same time is a big deal. Mac users can wait; they should be used to that by now... EA is making a commitment to do it, so it's not an issue. The question should be, does this help or hurt the core fans? Does this help or hurt their image with the majority of the people who are going to buy their stuff? Because that seems to be their bottom line, money. If the game is not ready for the PC, okay, not a big deal. I want a good, solid, tested game when it comes out. But this story makes it sound like PC users will see delays so EA can publish it in tandem with the Mac. In fact, they talk more about what platforms it's going to be on than what they are doing to make sure the game is polished. It is an unpleasant reminder that the bottom line is market share and not customers.

bonik
bonik

@ shadowslayer30 How would that machine count as a mac? If intel is running the machine... wouldn't it be a PC with an apple brand monitor and apple brand software (OS)? How is that a mac, if bill gates is making money from it? How is that a mac, if mac chips aren't running it? Also mac puts in extra chips on the graphics cards to make sure they can't run on anything else, potentially wrecking the GPU, and in some cases rendering them unworkable. Search it in google. But wait, you've never known about google your whole life because anyone that owns a PC knows the term research. Anyone on the mac, statistically speaking has less than 90 IQ, these are the people that writers and devs dumb down shows and games for. These are the retards of the internet, and don't deserve to hold up the rest of us in the assumption that they count as a part of the gaming crowd, because they don't. Mac never had gamers because IT CAN'T HANDLE GAMES. Once "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego" series had finished in the early 90's macs gaming crowd died down to less than 2% of gamers worldwide. So screw the mactards, screw them up thier tight retarded uneducated butt cheeks, they don't deserve spore. They don't deserve proper intel chips. They deserve to pack up and piss off.

gidjen
gidjen

I say bring it!!! my macbook is hungry for spore

shadowslayer30
shadowslayer30

pretty sad to see the mac-haters on this forum. have any of you seen the new Mac Pros? Chances are, they can beat any computer you guys have to the ground. up to 32 gigs RAM, brand new intel processors, duel 8800's....most things anyone would want with a new computer. but anyways, i'm glad spore is coming out for Mac...especially considering that Maxis has almost always made games for Macs, such as The Sims.

Oozaru_Kakkarot
Oozaru_Kakkarot

wuha...no ps3 or xbox 360 versions...wtf now i gotta buy a new pc..this old rust bucket hardly runs starcraft...

NuZZ01
NuZZ01

Heh. Who ever heard of a Mac gaming machine. Who buys 8800s for macs? They wouldn't be able to run it. So fawking stupid.

bonik
bonik

"EA, however, has decided the cost is justified. And while it has yet to decide whether it will ship different versions of Spore" I wish my head publisher would let me get away with blatant punctuation errors. Not that I'm a grammar nazi "And" tents to be a fail at primary school level.

heretic92
heretic92

yeah i think it would have been better if this game came out like now instead of waiting for EA to make a version for every platform possible; ....coming soon from EA spore that plays on the display in ur microwave....

PandaBear86
PandaBear86

Lol, when I posted my previous reply, it said that it was posted on January 1, 1970, which was 16 years before I was born. LOL. good thing the date fixed itself :P

PandaBear86
PandaBear86

Anybody that buys a Mac probably doesn't care about PC gaming too much, so why bother with creating Mac games? If you ARE a Mac user who wants to play PC games on your PC, then install Windows on your Mac. Retailers generally don't even stock that many Mac games, so why bother?

bonik
bonik

Great, another delay thanks to mactards. They think they're worth something with their idiot box, yet everyone knows (with at least 1/2 a brain) mac is a piece of **** for games. It never was a gaming machine, and it never will be. They failed code, software and mouse design for an overall horrid gaming experience that's about 10 years and 7 mouse buttons behind in gaming. Mac should just stick to doing what they do best, making ****ty slow 1/2 ass computers for old grannies that watch the mac ad, that always degrade pc users. Thats all they have going for them, because they sure are bad at what they're suppose to be doing.

kruegersc4
kruegersc4

I love Macs, I think they are much more stable than PCs and they don't break as much. But I really hope that these ports don't have any problems that detract from the experience.

DDRFreak808
DDRFreak808

As a future Mac user, I'm not too pumped for this. I'd rather run Boot Camp and play the Windows version than play a terribly ported Mac version. I wish that in this case, and future Mac/Windows simultaneous releases, EA would follow in Blizzard's footsteps and take as long as they like perfecting the game for both platforms, and release the game on a single CD. Perhaps when they feel pressure from Activision Blizzard, they'll consider this.

powah_serge
powah_serge

Awesome! Spore seems pretty fun! I guess I can now get this for the women in my family!

Atarii
Atarii

Hehe, I've completely forgotten about Spore.... I've got a PC so this news doesn't really have anything do do with how/when I'll be able to play it. However, now I have something again to look forward to coming out, yay!?

Einlanzerous
Einlanzerous

@nappan, that's a good point, because apparently benchmarks weren't good enough. Course I imagine the games kill the idea themselves, "Please right click to move units."

nappan
nappan

This is great news. Finally I'll be able to point to the sales figures for each platform to drive home the basic point that Macs are NOT gaming platforms. "See this huge slice of the pie chart... that's PC Spore sales... see that tiny sliver? That's the mac side."

Einlanzerous
Einlanzerous

Mac Users shouldn't be encouraged. It's bad enough that their market is growing due to their propaganda. EA, stop trying to just collect money, especailly in ways that it'll just hurt your proper customers. If it has to be made for Mac, let it come out in a few years.

Armadous
Armadous

BlueBirdTS, it's funny you say that. it was supposed to be one of the best games of 2007 :/ and I would very much mind a delay. 3 1/2 years should be enough time, if not, I think they screw around too much. Truth be told if we do see another delay it will likely be to wait for another ported version. Spore is EAs meal ticket and they know it, expect complete market saturation. Which is also why we will have Spore mobile.

Nxss-effa-sim
Nxss-effa-sim

Well it is good that EA is thinking. Maybe they will really set off the Mac-Port trend, persuading many more consumers to purchase Macs. I know that's why I never bought another one--the lack of games.

MC_Raptor
MC_Raptor

boot camp, no need for mac games... yaya. crysis works like a squirrel collecting nuts on acid

BlueBirdTS
BlueBirdTS

I'm really hoping that Spore lives up to the hype. This has the opportunity to be one of the better, or at lest most memorable, games of 2008. I wouldn't even mind another delay if the game actually delivers quality.

NeoNavarro
NeoNavarro

I really hope to start seeing more and more PC coming to Mac. That would be great!

jwmakoto
jwmakoto

This seems to be happening more and more since the release of the Intel-processor macs. Since I own one of those and no windows-machines, maybe I'll be able to get my hands on Spore afterall.

latchol1Sim
latchol1Sim

Meri57: I think if all of the game producers listened to you, I'd have a breakdown. Delays drive me insane, especially when the game was announced (with screens and/or video preview) more than a year before its first scheduled release date.

De4d_W0lf
De4d_W0lf

This is all good news for mac owners but as a PC owner... WHEN IS IT COMING OUT!!!!!!

jdr589
jdr589

i just want Spore lol

ObsidianArbiter
ObsidianArbiter

lol maybe now my friends with macs will see what they've been missing and get themselves pc's XD

Merl57
Merl57

How bout another delay? Please I really want this game delayed again. I'm serious. I just love delays...................

XenoGearOmega
XenoGearOmega

More people playing games is a good thing in my book. Maybe now we can finally welcome our Mac brothers to the family, proper.

LordSpleach
LordSpleach

I'm not into god games, but I wouldn't mind try Spore

ktseymour
ktseymour

Bring on the Damned game already, and I gotta agree with ya T.O.. The Mac gets all sorts of cool freeware

GamerErman2001
GamerErman2001

Ah, I really have no need for a Mac. But some people like Macs, so having a Mac version is a good thing. Hopefully they'll do like Blizzard's games or the Myst series and make one product that can play on either system, or else the Mac version will be hard to find. People could also install it on the opposite style of computer in case they got a new one or something.

Blackfriend8
Blackfriend8

WOW the mac is actually getting a game the same time as pc?? woah stop the presses. but really tho if you where gonna play spore you prob had a pc

TsubameOzuno
TsubameOzuno

@technowiz999: What are you even talking about? Stop your blind hatred and try to understand things before you talk about them. Anything Apple gives for free, is free. There is PLENTY of shareware on the Mac, everywhere, tons of it. Lots of great stuff. Try omnigroup.com, they have some fantastic wellknown stuff. Any UNIX opensource stuff will work fine too. Ever hear of Firefox, it's open source and Mac. Casual gamers buy games, that is what makes them casual gamers. Otherwise they wouldn't be gamers at all. I work at Gamestop, and if you think that the only people that step through those doors are hardcore gamers, you are wrong. On this site, sure...plenty of hardcore gamers. In real life? The MAJORITY of gamers are casual gamers, especially on computers. That's why the Wii was such a hit, casual gamers like it. That said, I'm thrilled that this is coming to the Mac natively, so I do not have to change into Windows to play one game, then change back to do useful things. Glad they are following Blizzard's example, Mac gamers have always been devoted to Blizz for that, maybe EA has finally got the hint.

MatthewNintendo
MatthewNintendo

lawfrye: Being a mac user, I have to agree with you. OSX will never be the pc gaming OS of choice. Having experienced both I have come to love OSX and absolutely despise XP/Vista, but that doesn't mean anything to gaming, at the end of the day windows has ahold of the pc gaming market, and if there is ever going to be a change, it would take a heck of a long time. But as will be said for most computer users, gaming isn't the be all and end all. The occasional big game is all I need, so OSX is great for me.

MatthewNintendo
MatthewNintendo

maxxehdood: What you are saying is completely untrue. Just because the Mac system is easier to use doesn't mean it's for less intelligent people. Since I have switched to mac I have found that I can do everything I could do on a pc much more easily and in less time, yet everything looks much, much more professional. Now to me it seems that a smart person would want to save time whilst also improving the quality of work. But yeah I'm glad to see that companies are starting to take notice of the growing numbers of mac users and I was really hyped about this game, and the news that we'll be getting it as early as pc users is fantastic.

technowiz999
technowiz999

This is so sad to hear. I'm not a huge fan of either EA or Microsoft, but theres almost no company out there worse than Apple. They charge you for things that they claim to give for free, they down allow open-source or share-ware on their hardware, and they use exclusivity techniques such as only iTunes work on iPods. One thing gamers always had was a PC and not a Mac, but if EA is trying to change this then whats left for hardcore gamers. This could be just as bad for the gaming industry as the Wii has been. Casual gamers don't buy games, simple as that. This will hurt EA more than it helps them, plus I'm almost considering boycotting EA with all the **** they have been pulling as of late.

ratempa
ratempa

I hope Apple announces new video cards for Mac Pro's. I doubt what we have right now will run something like spore.