After a fairly brief alpha phase (and no beta phase, mind), EA’s digital distribution platform Origin has officially launched for the Mac without much fanfare (the megacorporation didn’t even bother to issue a press release). They did however talk to someone at AppleInsider, and offer the following tidbits of information:
“We’re seeing increased activity from our Mac gamers,” he said. “In the past, we’ve brought games slower to market for Mac than for PC partly because the audience hasn’t been at the same level. The growth of iOS and Mac devices, though, means we’re starting to see gamers demand to play their games on devices that are becoming more prominent. I think, across the board, developers have focused on the PC platform, but I think you’re going to start seeing some changes there. [Origin] is the first step in a strategy you’re going to start seeing coming out of EA.”
So what new Mac games can you buy on Origin? Well, there’s Dragon Age II, a 2 year-old game, The Sims 3 (a nearly 4 year-old game), and Lego Star Wars (a nearly 6 year-old game). Not quite as exciting as Steam’s debut to our platform. What is interesting is that they appear to have teamed up with Feral Interactive (who have so far completely avoided distribution via Steam) and are offering many of the games from their catalogue (Deus Ex: Human Revolution being notably absent).
But how does it run? Well the good news is that it seems very stable, especially compared to Steam. For the most part it will sit quietly, and not have issues with rebooting and “Application Resume” like Steam does. The store is a different story however. Switch to the Store tab, and you’ll be presented with a list of “Mac” games, with a link to “browse all Mac games”. Doing this takes you to 10 said games, which actually means “Dragon Age II and 9 variants of The Sims”. Only on the third page of results (out of 4) do you find anything that you might remotely be interested in playing. You might wonder just how the games are ordered, well that’s easy: EA games first.
Thankfully the search function is better, and will at least tell you which of the results are Mac-compatible, but in the event that you wish to return to the list of Mac-only games, you’ll have to select “MAC” from the genres list. As for launching games, this seems to work well, aside from the bothersome “Syncing Cloud Data” prompts that insist in dragging out the experience. The “Origin In-Game” feature (similar to Steam’s overlay) doesn’t seem to work at all, and seemingly no attention has been paid to one of the few games on the service, Dragon Age II, which still crashes almost every time it is launched.
I’m hesitant to write it off completely, as certainly it could prove to be a good way to get games that might not have been available otherwise, but it has got a long way to go to catch up to the more established Steam, and then ubiquitous Mac App Store.