A hot topic circling the Web these past weeks with beta, and mounting farther with Early Game Access, is whether or not we will ever see The Old Republic in a native client for the Mac OS. A small sect of the Old Republic’s community are rallying to have Bioware develop a client for the Mac.
There are several trains of thought behind the initial lack of a Mac version, which is broken down below. Please note that FORCE Junkies does not condone a particular OS and that this is not meant to spark a “which operating system is better” debate, but rather explore some of the valid reasons why Bioware would not create a native Mac OS client (at least at this very moment).
The customer base that Bioware is targeting is obviously going to be the largest and most lucrative. According to StatCounter, a staggering 91.35% of folks are running a Windows operating system, whether it be XP, Vista or 7. A minor 6.51% are using Mac OS X, and the remaining 2.14% are running Linux or other operating systems. Obviously, the business sense is in selecting the largest customer base, and Windows currently has that to offer.
A large driving force behind The Old Republic is EA’s Origin software. Origin is what will be powering a lot of folks’ preorders, as the Digital Deluxe version of the game was purchasable only via Origin. Since EA is the publisher of the game, it’s only natural they have a large decision as to what platforms it will be published to, and they’d definitely want it published on their Origin software. Origin is currently only available for, you guessed it, Windows.
The Old Republic is built using the Simutronics Corporation HeroEngine. This engine supports only DirectX 9 at the moment. In this interview, Bioware stated, “For the largest compatibility base for our consumers, Direct X9 is the way to go. We are considering plans for DX11 in the future. That’s all we can say at this time.”
According to Ye Olde Wikipedia: ”Microsoft DirectX is a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) for handling tasks related to multimedia, especially game programming and video, on Microsoft platforms.” We’d be more likely to see TOR on the Xbox 360 or Windows Phone 7 than on a Mac at this point, as the game is not developed using the OpenGL technology that Mac OS utilizes. Only Microsoft platforms can utilize DirectX.
As you can see, The Old Republic isn’t at a place where it could be readily moved to the Mac Operating System. It would take a lot of work recoding, as well as jumping through EA’s hoops and a lot of demand from Mac users, to ever see a native port reach the shores of Apple’s shiny OS. Even though the rumor mill states that even some of the Bioware devs play using Boot Camp on the Mac (booting into Windows), it seems that it’s the only way that TOR will end up on the platform into the foreseeable future.
There’s nothing saying it will never happen, but it will not be happening any time soon from the looks of it.