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EA backtracking on claims of simultaneous Mac game releases

Despite promises that it would release Mac versions of some high-profile games day-and-date with their Windows counterparts, Electronic Arts has conceded that at least some of these titles have been delayed.

The Mac OS X versions of two brand-new games, Madden NFL 08 and Tiger Woods 08, have been pushed back from their announced August releases to September or October, an EA representative told AppleInsider. The company, however, launched Madden NFL 08 for virtually every other platform on Tuesday.

When pressed for an explanation, the EA spokesperson said there were no definitive reasons available for the delay but alluded to a possible lack of experience with Mac development. This was possibly prompted in part by the company's years-long absence from the platform.

In speaking to AppleInsider, the spokesperson nonetheless claimed that four ports of previously released titles — Battlefield 2142, Command and Conquer 3, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Need for Speed Carbon — were already available in stores. As of press time, however, EA was unable to provide the name of a single store at which customers could purchase any of the titles.

A brief survey by AppleInsider of Apple's stores, as well as Amazon and several other leading online retailers, revealed that none had the games in stock while only a few outlets were offering pre-orders. Some online retailers known to carry Mac software, including Amazon, made no mention of the Mac version whatsoever while listing available copies for Windows and several video game consoles.

While EA has yet to address the contradictory reports, the absence of either new or old games on store shelves shows the game maker to have broken the promises made to Mac users at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, where EA's chief creative officer Bing Gordon said onstage that all six games would be available during the summer and that future multi-platform releases would be more closely in step with Windows versions.

The difficulties may stem from the publisher's use of TransGaming's Cider technology, which interprets Windows commands in real-time and is said to provide similar speed on Macs compared to native code. Before a Mac port can be released, the method requires that the Windows version already have been finished to ensure a consistent code base between the two versions; this simplifies the conversion process, but adds to the overall development time.

EA's theoretically quicker but potentially delay-prone approach to producing Mac-native games contrasts sharply with smaller but more focused development houses such as Epic Games and id Software, which have promised to write completely native code for upcoming games such as Rage that can be tested independently from other versions and is not held to any specific release schedule.