While excited gamers this week have been treated to the first full expansion to BioWare's epic RPG Dragon Age: Origins, customers who purchased the Mac port of the game are left wondering when they'll get in on the latest content themselves.
Electronic Arts published the OSX port of DA:O last December, utilizing TransGaming Inc.'s Cider wrapper to facilitate the Mac version. Cider, a proprietary version of WINE, implements the Windows APIs in a manner that OSX can utilise, allowing software developed for Windows to run natively on a Mac without the use of an emulator, virtual machine, or rebooting through Boot Camp. However this is hit or miss, as anyone who's ever used CrossOver Games to get Windows titles working on their Mac can attest; sometimes a game works perfectly, sometimes it explodes in a fiery maelstrom of pain and agony.
Although I do most of my gaming on my Windows desktop built specifically for that purpose, I purchased the OSX version of DA: O when it was released to support the idea of more serious games coming to Apple machines; stuff like the recent Steam/OSX announcement is a great bit of news and companies will only be motivated to make versions of their titles available on OSX if they feel there's a market for it. Nevertheless, since day one, performance on the Mac version of DA: O suffers considerably compared to the Windows version on the same computer in Boot Camp; this is unfortunately Cider's drawback, as the need to translate DirectX into OpenGL requires significant overhead, something that my poor MacBook Pro can't manage. Even at its lowest settings the game was a stuttering mess and unplayable, essentially a waste of money even though TransGaming's site said the machine excelled past the suggested requirements.
That's not even the most unfortunate part, as since being launched the Mac port hasn't been supported in the least. The latest DLC, Return to Ostagar, doesn't work with the Mac version because it requires a patch that hasn't been released for the port; in fact, no patches have been released for the Mac version at all, and there's been little in the way of explanation if there ever will be. BioWare, TransGaming Inc, and EA all point fingers and responsibility at one another as to who will be working on these things but in the end it's the customers who forked out the same price as the PC version to get a product missing many of the features of its sibling.
And then there's the expansion, which presumably will eventually be released on OSX as well (there's an Apple logo on the expansion's mini-site, and a Mac version is mentioned in the ESRB submission) but nobody at any of the involved companies have confirmed or denied whether or not it will happen. It's the lack of communication that is most frustrating, as the developers have seemingly abdicated addressing any concerns of consumers who have utilised any official methods to bring up questions.
Shoddy performance is one thing, but dropping support entirely is something else all together. It's a positive step for publishers and developers to bring their products to as many platforms as possible, but when they abandon those customers as soon as they do they're every bit as responsible for people not taking Macs seriously for gaming as anyone at Apple could be. I can only hope that BioWare/EA get their acts together for the expansion and handle its release and subsequent support better than they did with the base game.