Pirates Get To Play Tomb Raider First

Feral’s Mac port of Tomb Raider was released last week on the Mac App Store. For whatever reason, all the other places to buy it from only list it as a pre-order, which will presumably net you the Steam version of the game, released on the 30th, exactly one week after the Mac App Store version.

Feral haven’t exactly been forthcoming about why there’s a delay, but if I was to speculate, I’d suggest that they don’t earn as much money from the Steam version (if that was the case, I’d rather they were just open about this, as consumers could decide for themselves who to give their money to). You can “pre-order” non-Mac App Store versions of the game to play on Thursday, or if you already own the Windows version (on Steam), you’ll automatically get the Mac version at the same, seeing as it’s a SteamPlay-enabled title. In addition, Feral have not yet made their review copies available as of this post, so even websites like us can’t review it unless we pony up the $50 cost for the Mac App Store edition (or wait for the Steam release).

This is of course on the back of an unexpected delay for the game’s release, which was originally scheduled for December 2013, and on top of the inevitable delay Mac gamers are accustomed to, waiting for the Mac version to be released months after the other (console and Windows) versions.

So it’s an odd situation, whereby people have pre-ordered, bought (as in the Windows version) or are waiting for review copies of the Mac version of Tomb Raider are unable to play it. Meanwhile, people who choose to buy the inferior (lacking multiplayer, cloud saving and other SteamWorks features) Mac App Store version can play it now, and so can anyone wanting to pirate the Mac version of the game. Yep, people who paid for the game have to wait up to a week after people who didn’t before they can play it.

Piracy has become a bigger issue for Mac developers recently. With an increasing number of people choosing to game on Mac rather than Windows or consoles, there’s a greater likelihood that someone will decide to make illegal copies available online. The Mac App Store editions of software are notoriously easy to pirate, typically requiring one person to actually buy the application, then patch it, before sharing it with file-sharing communities. For a game as anticipated as Tomb Raider, pirated copies were available to download as soon as today, less than four days after the Mac App Store release, and  at least three days before the Steam version becomes available to people who paid for it.

There are (in my opinion) sensible arguments to be made that piracy isn’t as devastating to developers as some claim, but either way, it’s hard to argue that someone who wants to play Tomb Raider right now might opt to just get the pirated version rather than wait three days. But regardless, it’s certainly a kick in the teeth for the law-abiding gamers who just want to wait for the version they paid for to become available.

It’s certainly possible that there’s a valid (technical rather than business) reason why the Steam version had to be delayed beyond the Mac App Store version, but if so, Feral aren’t saying. According to people who have purchased or pirated the Mac App Store edition of the game, it’s a splendid effort on Feral’s part, a shining example of the graphical improvements in OS X Mavericks, and even comparable to the Windows version. Which makes this all the more disappointing for those who are waiting to finally play it.

We contacted Feral Interactive as to to the delay of the Steam release prior to the publication of this post, but they declined to comment.