Electronic Arts has announced that Will Wright’s highly-anticipated new game, Spore, will see a simultaneous Mac and PC release, but analysts remain doubtful about Apple’s commitment to gaming.
The announcement was made at the Macworld Expo yesterday, although no official release date for the game has yet been given. According to David McCombe of EA, the company will be making use of a new “wrapper” technology that will simplify the process of developing Mac or Linux versions of PC releases. “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,” he said. “It’s not a complete code rewrite. It’s more wrapper technology with some customer work.” McCombe said that by using the technology, gamers should see no noticeable differences between the PC and Mac versions of the game.
But a GameDaily report quotes several industry analysts who are questioning Apple’s gaming strategy, suggesting the company remains uncommitted to the market. David Cole of DFC Intelligence said, “To me they just don’t seem to have a high-end game strategy. They seem to feel they don’t need that consumer.”
“As far as the Mac, I just don’t see it being a major option for a serious gamer and that is a reason, despite it having a new found cool factor, I think they have decided to concede the hard-core gamer to Microsoft,” he added.
“I’m really unsure about their strategy,” commented Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan. “The iPod has no buttons, and the touchscreen could be used like a DS, but the display is at a disadvantage because it is a single screen. I’m not sure that there is a ton of overlap between iPod owners and handheld game players, but do concede that the iPhone would work fine for gameplay.”
Lazard Capital Markets’ Colin Sebastian said Apple has not pursued the game market as “aggressively” as other platform manufacturers, but expects that to change in the future. “Given the strong market growth it’s difficult to imagine that they can remain on the sidelines for long,” he said. “Particularly with the iPhone, Apple has an opportunity to drive increasing awareness and use of games and other digital media, where carriers and handset manufacturers have been slow to make progress.”