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EA's Origin to hit Mac in public alpha as rival Steam launches original Half-Life

Over year and a half after its initial launch, the Electronic Arts-backed Origin digital marketplace is finally coming to Mac, though initial buzz surrounding the alpha build's release will be tempered by Valve's decision to debut the 15-year-old classic "Half-Life" for Apple computers through the competing Steam service.

Due to its relatively small marketshare and shallow demand for games, Apple's Mac has been notoriously slow to get the latest titles from leading developers like EA, but that may soon change with the upcoming launch of Origin.

The online marketplace and digital hub for owned games will be premiering on Mac later this year, but the company has opened a limited alpha for testing. According to the Origin website, "a few thousand" users in North America and the UK will get access to the early version, which includes a free copy of PopCap's word game Bookworm.

"With Origin for Mac we’ll be able to offer the same Origin experience and features that define our PC app — cloud storage, auto-patching, friends list, and more — to Mac users everywhere," said Origin's Thierry Nguyen in a blog post. "We’re very excited about the upcoming launch of Origin for Mac and the opportunity to reach the millions of Mac-based gamers out there."

For now, Origin will be hobbled without access to the online storefront or live streaming from Twitch, but the company hopes to add those features soon.

EA's Origin push will butt heads with Valve's Steam platform, which already has an established core of gamers after being available for nearly three years.

In a relatively quiet rollout, Valve on Friday put the original Half-Life up for sale through Steam, some 15 years after the game was first launched in 1998. This is the first time Half-Life has been available through Steam for Mac. Valve has already rolled out its entire catalog, including Half-Life 2 and the following sequels, through the Mac client, making the original Half-Life launch somewhat of an anomaly.

The crowbar. Half-Life protagonist Gordon Freeman's go-to weapon. | Source: Valve

The title is currently is on sale now for $9.99 through Steam for Mac.