SimCity will hit Mac computers in June.
Now that PC users have properly bug-tested the game and suffered through the server issues that transformed SimCity from one of the most highly-anticipated Windows titles in years to an industry-wide punchline, EA is ready to offer a proper SimCity experience to those who prefer Apple-branded tech. Specifically, the OS X incarnation of SimCity will debut on June 11.
While the worst issues with the game may have already been sorted out, EA is still determined to complicate the process of OS X users picking up a copy of SimCity. According to today's announcement, the game will be available exclusively through EA's Origin digital distribution service which, while functional, doesn't compare very favorably to Steam, Valve's analogue which has more or less established itself as the de facto industry standard.
As something of a vague, arguably unintentional mea culpa, the press release also reveals that by purchasing a copy of the OS X game, players will receive the Windows version totally gratis. What use that might have to an Apple user is questionable, given that access to this free Windows version can only be had once you've already purchased the OS X title, but who are we to stare glumly into the gaping maw of a gift horse?
Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw explains the baffling pack-in in terms that only serve to make things more confusing. "SimCity is coming to Mac on June 11 and one purchase will give you both the Mac and PC versions. You only need to buy SimCity once to play together across the same servers, regardless of which version you're playing," Bradshaw states. "We didn't want to make any compromises when it came to the Mac so we created a native version that is optimized for the hardware and OSX."
So, wait ... does this mean that the OS X and Windows versions of SimCity can communicate with one another online? Or is that Windows version pack-in an apology for the lack of such a feature that allows OS X users to enjoy the game with Windows players by installing the Windows iteration of SimCity to a virtual machine, Bootcamp partition or whatever other method they prefer? As a Mac user I like the idea of playing SimCity with Windows users, but this is a really confusing way of explaining how that's supposed to work. Fortunately, my job gives me access to people who can explain such things, and I've sent an email to EA seeking clarification. I'll update this piece when/if I hear more.
Update: EA replied to the email I sent over and offered the following clarification:
The Windows and Mac versions of the game were created alongside each other. The Mac version is not a direct port. It is being built by the Maxis Studio in Emeryville so that it is optimized for the Mac OS. That means that the Windows version needs to be played on Windows and the Mac version needs to be played on Mac (of course if you boot camp your Mac with Windows, you will be able to play the windows version there).
The title is a dual-entitlement meaning that if you purchased a Windows version of the game you will be entitled for a Mac version. When the Mac version ships in June, players will also be entitled to a PC version of the game. Windows and Mac players will play alongside each other in the same servers and regions.
So, yes, the OS X and Windows versions of SimCity will be able to communicate with one another. Hooray for that.