For as long as I can remember I have been a Star Wars fan, still buzz from playing Jedi Knight Academy, Jedi Outcast, Republic Commando and KOTOR I & II. These are in my opinion the corner stones of the Star Wars franchise in regards to games. I will probably get slaughtered for this but KOTOR II actually ended a relationship I was in when I was 19 because I couldn’t pull myself away from playing it. That’s how much Star Wars affects me. It pulls me in and immerses me so I lose all perception of space and time. So might even say it forms corruption from the dark side upon my psyche………too far? Sorry!
Fast forward to 20th December 2011 and the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, a date I had been waiting for since the announcement of the game and possibly the longest 3 years of my life. Upon release I knew there was only going to be a PC version of the game available, begrudgingly I had to install a Boot Camp partition on to my Mac due to there being no announcement about a native Mac version of the game coming.
During an interview in early January 2012 Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk said:
“We know there’s a big Mac audience of BioWare fans … we know that’s an important and large audience. And we want to serve that audience,”
At the time no definite timescale was given for a release of a Mac port but the good Doctor’s did add:
“That’s definitely one of the things we’re looking at next. We want to get this launch under our belt and everything stabilized and happy, and then we’ll look at other platforms, and that’s obviously one of the first ones.”
Since this interview both Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have left BioWare and seemingly all hope of Mac port for The Old Republic. After this interview, a quote or official statement from anyone at BioWare or EA on this matter is none existent. Which is strange really since considering the turbulent times the game has faced since its release. Going from a monthly subscription model to free to play in just less than 12 months must have been a massive slap in the face to both the developer and publisher. In fairness though, they did react and since the F2P model has been implemented it has seen a rise in the player base and servers are now showing a healthy player base (mainly due to the fact several servers have been shut down and player migrations were implemented).
Part of this reason was due to a dwindling user base something that maybe a Mac and Linux port could have helped avoid? Where is my reasoning you ask? I’ll break it down.
World of Warcraft is the dominant MMO of current times largely due to the fact Blizzard has always done a stand up job of supporting OS X with its games and the continued success of WoW is due to its large players bases with both PC and Mac which is why they could continue to keep the monthly subscription model. It just makes good business sense if you’re going put out an MMORPG and attempt to break the dominance of WoW you have to support as many user clients as possible. Not all of us want to install a Windows partition on our systems for various reasons, such as, small HDD capacity (Windows 7 64-bit install is 15GB current game client is around 21GB) to simply some people just don’t like Microsoft.
The Lord of the Rings and Eve online both have vibrant Mac user bases and both are F2P. With EA’s micro transactions system in place it would make good business sense for them work on ports for both Mac and Linux. The Linux OS has seen an upturn in recent months due to Valve’s hard work in making their games and Steam available to Linux. If EA and BioWare want to show the gaming community they are serious about supporting gamers and changing their ways then putting the time and effort into development of SWOTOR for these platforms is a must. In the long-term only they can gain from it.
Technically, it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to BioWare who have in the past ported Dragon Age 2 for the Mac using the Cider wrapper. Cider wraps might not be everyone’s cup of tea (due to loss of performance) but the Dragon Age 2 port was exceptional in my opinion and didn’t really suffer from a dip in performance or graphical quality which has plagued the technology. Hell, they could even outsource this to an OS X specialist such as Feral or Aspyr. Aspyr have developed plenty of Star Wars games previously and I am sure both companies would relish the challenge of developing an MMO.
I have read many comments around the internet saying it would not be worth BioWare’s time and EA’s money in developing a port for the Mac but to the contrary any Mac Gamer will know most forums have at some point had this question asked with no official answers coming. The Old Republic forum has had an 82 page thread with just under 900 comments on it about this very subject. Mac Rumors forum has a thread with 10 pages, 244 comments and nearly 145,000 views. The proof is in the pudding.
The demand for Star Wars The Old Republic to be made available for Mac user’s is evident and the benefits to both the publisher and community are apparent. C’mon EA lets take this seriously and start giving back to the gaming community. It no less than we and the game deserve.
(Quotes taken from Joystick article by Ben Gilbert).