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

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
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.

Origin


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.

Half-Life
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 < a href="http://store.steampowered.com/app/70/">Steam for Mac.
post #2 of 19

Do not want. 

Origin, that is. EA has become… Hmm, I don't know that there's an analogy from elsewhere in the industry to describe them. 

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil 
EA has become…

Valve? I don't like Origin either but EA's really just doing what Valve did. Valve made their own software (Half-Life, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead, Counter-strike etc) and sold the digital versions exclusively via their own online store and then persuaded other developers/publishers to do the same. There was always going to be competition coming along. EA buys so many companies and publishes so many titles that they were bound to eventually wonder why they'd sell their titles online via a 3rd party. They just needed leverage and so came Battlefield 3 exclusive to Origin. They now have 21 million users on Origin:

http://www.nowgamer.com/news/1515383/battlefield_3_premium_subs_hit_13_million_origin_users_hit_21_million_ea.html

vs Valve's 50+ million:

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-11-22-steam-still-at-50-million-users-500-000-use-big-picture

Companies with both stores and their own software exclusively on them now include Valve, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Blizzard and EA. Ubisoft has their own too but I don't think they have exclusives and Amazon offers digital game downloads.

The multiple store setup isn't so bad but they need accounts for each one. It would be good if you could just have one login and buy from each store but of course they want to track how you play games, presumably so they can make better games (not much evidence of that though).

I can see Valve's dominance slip away over time because they aren't delivering the big exclusive titles any more. Source 2 is rumoured to be coming along with something though:

http://uk.pc.gamespy.com/pc/half-life-3/1226637p1.html

It better not just be to draw nicer hats for repetitive games. Whatever they do, EA will always have the Battlefield trump card and it will keep a few million users tied to Origin all by itself. Without a Mac port, Origin for the Mac isn't really worthwhile.
post #4 of 19
Well if Origin is coming I really, sincerely hope that it is better implemented than the version they included with Fifa 12 for the mac. Missing key features like friends, Ultimate team and others that my son get out of shape about. Even Origin on the pc side has some horror stories - head over to fifa12 forums if you're interested.

They made sure the iPad/iPhone versions of origin worked tho' - probably only coz they had to satisfy App Store rules.

We will see - oh EA Hurry up and port fifa 13 for Mac. sheesh you can be useless sometimes
post #5 of 19
I signed up for Origin on my PC just to play Mass Effect 3 but I do not like it and will not install it on my Mac. I also have not installed Steam on my Mac even though I do like it, and have it on my PC, and use it a lot. Why?

Because I want to encourage publishers to use the Mac App Store. Even Steam is a bit of a nightmare when apps use out of band licensing models and activation services. The Mac will be better off in the long run if all apps come through the App Store. There will be a central place to find apps, all subject to the same fair licensing model, security review and sandboxing.
post #6 of 19

I agree with Tallest and ascii. I'd rather EA just make games (and support them, goddammit) instead of trying to run their private app store. I mean, the future of computing should not be dozens of app & content stores installed on your computer. Pretty soon, we'll need an "App Store Store" for managing the download and updating of app stores.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #7 of 19
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post
Valve? I don't like Origin either but EA's really just doing what Valve did. 

 

They're different companies, run differently, and with different goals. The idea that Origin presents isn't objectionable or new, it's the way EA handles it, and all their content, that is.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii 
I want to encourage publishers to use the Mac App Store. Even Steam is a bit of a nightmare when apps use out of band licensing models and activation services. The Mac will be better off in the long run if all apps come through the App Store. There will be a central place to find apps, all subject to the same fair licensing model, security review and sandboxing.

I don't see every publisher going for the Mac App Store. They choose to put activations and DLC signups into their software. They also get the benefit of not giving away 30% of the revenue and offering things like Steamplay. For games like BF3, that means some serious money:

http://www.polygon.com/2012/10/30/3577902/ea-posts-381-million-q2-loss-digital-growth-fifa-battlefield

EA sold 5 million copies of BF3 in the first week so at $60 per game, that's $300m. Both BF3 and CoD are ~$1b/year products. The hosting costs sure wouldn't be $300m but that's what Apple would take. In those cases, it makes more sense for them to have their own store if the store is popular enough.

For smaller publishers who don't have a large range of products and would find it difficult to setup a large hosting service, it makes more sense to use existing stores but even then, there's the risk of having software rejected. Take The Witcher 2 for example, that game is full of sex scenes, gratuitous nudity and violence (pretty much why I bought it). Apple allowed it into their store but it could easily have been rejected if they applied their rules consistently.

It would be good if digital stores could be setup like retail stores where they all have the same products and can compete on price and it doesn't matter where you buy the product but the payment systems complicate things and digital products aren't tangible so they need a link to you. Maybe this is something Paypal can get in on where you can buy a game from any store and the game gets listed in your Paypal account. That way you don't need a login for everyone, just your Paypal login or perhaps Facebook/Twitter for socialites.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil 
They're different companies, run differently, and with different goals.

I don't think that's the case any more. It's how it always goes. When they started, they were the underdog with innovative games and a unique way of selling games that eventually dominated. As time went on, they stopped bothering too much about the game development and let the store quality suffer with poor support and activation schemes as mentioned. Then they update the license agreements so people can't really do anything about whatever problems they come across:

http://www.nag.co.za/2012/08/03/steams-license-agreement-now-looks-a-lot-more-controlling/

Then competitors start threatening their revenue stream with the Windows 8 store and similar so they turn their attention to Linux when they haven't cared about Linux for years. I want to believe that they have a higher moral standing than the people at EA because Gabe Newell seems like a really cool guy but I think people have the freedom to be like that as long as the money keeps rolling in and they have the control. When that's threatened, it seems they just turn like everyone else.

If Valve was better than the rest, why don't they publish their games in other stores like the Mac App Store? Why not make Portal and Half-Life for iOS? EA is at least putting great games on iOS and has some things in the Mac App Store. There was a time when I'd rather have Valve as the sole provider of games but I don't think they deserve that place any more. While multiple stores will complicate buying games, there really isn't another option as long as providers keep taking large revenue cuts.
post #9 of 19
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post
As time went on, they stopped bothering too much about the game development

 

Oh, that's readily apparent. Wait, you were talking about Valve? I don't know that they've ever done anything like that.

 

Valve? They saw a team of indie guys making an innovative game. Hired them up, made Portal, and it's considered one of the best games of all time. It feels like the opposite way to do it.

 

And the Maxis takeover. The SimCity games were great! Now? I have serious doubts. Never mind that Spore was completely changed from its original vision and The Sims is… I dunno; I just think it's scary.

 

And sure, all stores have their various objectionable policies, but at least Apple has a one-up on both of them in that regard. EA's DRM ruins experiences and installation for legal customers, and Valve's "must always be on the Internet" policy isn't the best, so the App Store nearly circumvents both of those issues.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


I don't see every publisher going for the Mac App Store. They choose to put activations and DLC signups into their software. They also get the benefit of not giving away 30% of the revenue and offering things like Steamplay. For games like BF3, that means some serious money:

http://www.polygon.com/2012/10/30/3577902/ea-posts-381-million-q2-loss-digital-growth-fifa-battlefield

EA sold 5 million copies of BF3 in the first week so at $60 per game, that's $300m. Both BF3 and CoD are ~$1b/year products. The hosting costs sure wouldn't be $300m but that's what Apple would take. In those cases, it makes more sense for them to have their own store if the store is popular enough.

Wow, big money. Maybe Apple needs to offer two models for developers to get their apps on the store, either the current 30% cut, or a larger once-off payment up front.

 

It's interesting that the App Store suits indy games better, because people always say that Apple produces premium products and goes for the high end market (which is true), and yet for apps they seem to be encouraging the low end. Is there strategy there or is it just an accident? Maybe they want to use the democratising effect of such a model to smash the big software companies with an army of indies, take their power away.

post #11 of 19
Originally Posted by ascii View Post
Wow, big money. Maybe Apple needs to offer two models for developers to get their apps on the store, either the current 30% cut, or a larger once-off payment up front.

 

It's interesting that the App Store suits indy games better, because people always say that Apple produces premium products and goes for the high end market (which is true), and yet for apps they seem to be encouraging the low end. Is there strategy there or is it just an accident? Maybe they want to use the democratising effect of such a model to smash the big software companies with an army of indies, take their power away.

 

Well, the cost of publishing on the App Store is $99. Right away that's more conducive to the guy in his garage doing it because he loves it and now because he can afford it. 

 

It's interesting to see what happens when you pit the man-off-the-street against the huge corporation on a level playing field. Starts to make the big guys uneasy when a team of five makes a better game than they do, for less, and still making more.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

It's interesting to see what happens when you pit the man-off-the-street against the huge corporation on a level playing field. Starts to make the big guys uneasy when a team of five makes a better game than they do, for less, and still making more.

Yep. The big games clearly have the production values advantage, in terms of hiring professional voice actors, etc. But sometimes (nearly always) a good idea badly rendered is better than a bad idea well rendered. The indy section of iTunes movies is also getting better and better. There's still more potential for playing field levelling technologies such as realistic voice synthesis or 3d printers which I hope Apple will invest in. It will be a better world if every creative person can realise their ideas on a shoestring budget.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil 
Oh, that's readily apparent. Wait, you were talking about Valve? I don't know that they've ever done anything like that.

That EA thing is just the Wii version - they should have just not bothered making it but they had to update the players. Developers tend not to rehash things but they do include the same content sometimes between games:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP28UkGlN6Y

or repackage games into bundles:

http://store.steampowered.com/sub/469/
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil 
Valve? They saw a team of indie guys making an innovative game. Hired them up, made Portal, and it's considered one of the best games of all time. It feels like the opposite way to do it.

That was a while ago though. Portal 2 didn't really add much to the experience. I'm glad they are working on a new engine and I know it can take a while to get that right so maybe there will be a batch of games comes out once it's ready but there's a lot of down-time in the middle.

Obviously EA is a publisher so it's hard to compare Valve's development studio against it but my main issue with Valve is their games. They just go for the same kind of multiplayer shooters. Put Zombies into Counter-strike and it's like Left 4 Dead, put army guys into Team Fortress and it's no different from Counter-Strike. It's the same mechanics over and over.

Valve hasn't done anything with Half-Life for over 5 years. There's been 2 Portal games with the last one around 2 years ago and as I say, it didn't really add much to the original Portal experience. Beyond that, it's just the same kind of multiplayer shooters with different maps and characters.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil 
And sure, all stores have their various objectionable policies, but at least Apple has a one-up on both of them in that regard. EA's DRM ruins experiences and installation for legal customers, and Valve's "must always be on the Internet" policy isn't the best, so the App Store nearly circumvents both of those issues.

That makes the App Store software easier to download illegally but that happens to all software regardless of what they do. I don't think Apple's measures protect any better than 3rd parties. They seem to now have a way to get iOS apps without jailbreaking:

http://thenextweb.com/apple/2013/01/01/low-down-dirty-iphone-app-pirates/

With their own stores, developers can implement whatever measures they want. They aren't desperate to stop doing using these measures.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii 
Maybe Apple needs to offer two models for developers to get their apps on the store, either the current 30% cut, or a larger once-off payment up front.

They could even have a reduced ongoing fee once they hit a certain threshold e.g after $50m, it drops to 15%, after $100m, it drops to 5%.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii 
The big games clearly have the production values advantage, in terms of hiring professional voice actors, etc. But sometimes (nearly always) a good idea badly rendered is better than a bad idea well rendered.

I haven't been too impressed with Indie games. Games like The Path and Dear Esther look like they have something quirky but the gameplay and production quality is bad. The Deponia games have a nice art style and are available for the Mac but that quality is rare.

Agharta Studio is one on the App Store that delivers good quality games but when you take away all the quality control from the selling platform, the good content gets lost among a massive pile of poor games and there's no way for the good ones to stand out.
post #14 of 19
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post
That was a while ago though. Portal 2 didn't really add much to the experience. I'm glad they are working on a new engine and I know it can take a while to get that right so maybe there will be a batch of games comes out once it's ready but there's a lot of down-time in the middle.

 

Portal 2 they did it again! They hired another team that created the gel physics mechanic!


The Source engine is getting ludicrously long in the tooth, though.


They seem to now have a way to get iOS apps without jailbreaking:

 

Makes sense. The jailbreaking community is basically dead, thwarted by new hardware and software, so the people responsible for its drive over the last few years have to get their sick kicks some way… 


…when you take away all the quality control from the selling platform, the good content gets lost among a massive pile of poor games and there's no way for the good ones to stand out.

 

All of Apple's stores need better sorting. I just can't understand why they refuse to do it. Yes, I will never, ever, navigate to the branch of the tree called "new age electronic screamo prog rock"… but someone will. And they'll be glad they can finally find the kind of music they like.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Agharta Studio is one on the App Store that delivers good quality games but when you take away all the quality control from the selling platform, the good content gets lost among a massive pile of poor games and there's no way for the good ones to stand out.

Yeah, you have to go on word of mouth, which is not ideal. I wonder what effect the crowdfunding sites will have on game development going forward. App Stores give indies a sales/transaction platform, but that's only half the puzzle. The combination of this with open source financing may result in indie games with production values for a change. Anyway I think gaming has a bright future.

post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil 
Portal 2 they did it again! They hired another team that created the gel physics mechanic!

The gel was a good addition and they did add a bit of a storyline too. Games that are overly puzzle-oriented just seem to lack depth. It's like when people used to mod the Quake 3 engine with new maps and they'd put the portals and jumps in different places. It's too much like you are playing the same scenario through.

The original idea behind Portal was great and innovative but I don't think the game mechanic has a long shelf-life. Portal 2 is about as far as that idea would go short of sticking a Portal Gun in Half-Life.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil 
All of Apple's stores need better sorting. I just can't understand why they refuse to do it. Yes, I will never, ever, navigate to the branch of the tree called "new age electronic screamo prog rock"… but someone will. And they'll be glad they can finally find the kind of music they like.

I think they can go a step further and have personalised pages so you wouldn't need to navigate to the categories. As soon as you open the store, that home page would be recommending things you are interested in. Maybe not as extreme as the Amazon home page where if you happen to view an item, that's all they recommend for about a week but it would pull the best rated and most popular items in your area of interest to the front.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii 
Yeah, you have to go on word of mouth, which is not ideal. I wonder what effect the crowdfunding sites will have on game development going forward. App Stores give indies a sales/transaction platform, but that's only half the puzzle. The combination of this with open source financing may result in indie games with production values for a change. Anyway I think gaming has a bright future.

The more that failures like the following happen, people will start to distrust that system:

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/10/haunts-kickstarter-failure-highlights-the-risks-of-crowdfunding/

There's no real contract that says a game developer has to finish anything so I could see it being abused somewhere down the line.

There was a movie about Indie game development:

http://www.indiegamethemovie.com

and some of the people seemed quite nice but you could see the flaws with it. Poor quality control, lack of experience in managing people, marketing and budgeting. As with anything, a bigger brand gives the impression that you can at least get support and some degree of quality assurance.

I like that it gives the opportunity to developers to self-publish as there are a few gems that might not have been possible otherwise but I don't see it changing the industry much. It depends on how game engines go though. If the workflow lets people develop stable games quickly then it will allow smaller teams to build more complex games.

If Apple invested in an SDK like Unreal or Square Enix's one and provided it to developers with the developer license, that would help get the App Store quality up.

I can see the gaming industry having a lot of problems very soon with big budget games getting too complex and slow to make so even developers like Valve take many years between games and indie games being not very high quality with a focus on addictive Tetris-like games. I'd rather see quality assured games with development cycles of 1-2 years with a cheaper price and all digital distribution, even if they only have 5 hour playing times. Movies can take a year or more to make and you only get ~90 minutes of entertainment. Valve did this with the episodic games. It has downsides but it's better financially.
post #17 of 19
Anyone have a sense of whether or not this would run on my feeble and ancient Core 2 Duo MacBook with GMA 950 (hangs head in shame)...?
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

I like that it gives the opportunity to developers to self-publish as there are a few gems that might not have been possible otherwise but I don't see it changing the industry much. It depends on how game engines go though. If the workflow lets people develop stable games quickly then it will allow smaller teams to build more complex games.

If Apple invested in an SDK like Unreal or Square Enix's one and provided it to developers with the developer license, that would help get the App Store quality up.

I can see the gaming industry having a lot of problems very soon with big budget games getting too complex and slow to make so even developers like Valve take many years between games and indie games being not very high quality with a focus on addictive Tetris-like games. I'd rather see quality assured games with development cycles of 1-2 years with a cheaper price and all digital distribution, even if they only have 5 hour playing times. Movies can take a year or more to make and you only get ~90 minutes of entertainment. Valve did this with the episodic games. It has downsides but it's better financially.

Yes, I enjoyed that movie. Oh well, even if Indy games stay largely crap, at least it may increase the chance of the right people being discovered by the bigger studios and given a chance to do their thing with a bigger budget.

post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jouster View Post

Anyone have a sense of whether or not this would run on my feeble and ancient Core 2 Duo MacBook with GMA 950 (hangs head in shame)...?

I was about to confidently say that the 7 year old Macbook wouldn't have a problem playing a 15 year old game but I forgot it was Intel graphics we're talking about. Your shame is appropriate:



If you adjust the settings way down, it should play smoothly enough - resolution helps a lot so try 800x600 or 1024x768. Half-Life 2 on the other hand is not likely:



Again though, with the settings way down, it might be possible. I think I managed to play HL2 on the GMA 950 but it wasn't pleasant. Thankfully those days are long gone. Intel should issue a recall for anything pre-HD3000 and burn it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii 
Yes, I enjoyed that movie. Oh well, even if Indy games stay largely crap, at least it may increase the chance of the right people being discovered by the bigger studios and given a chance to do their thing with a bigger budget.

Yeah, it's a good way for developers to show off their talent so that they can be head-hunted by bigger companies.

I'm not much of a fan of the big companies in gaming. They tend to just play things too safe, like HP does and as I say, I think Valve is going the same way. The innovative franchises come from originally smaller teams. Take Rocksteady Studios, Arkane Studios, Eidos, Infinity Ward, Naughty Dog and so on. They all seem to get founded with just a handful of people and then they eventually get bought up by large companies like EA, Activision, Take 2 Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Brothers Games and so on.

The larger budgets and teams help them expand franchises to new levels but having a massive budget gives them a pretty big safety net. It doesn't force them to push any boundaries because they don't have to. The unofficial Half-Life remake shows how long it can take (8 years) to make a game without a big company offering support and that's with a game engine and design already done.

But it's how to know which startup is going to make something good before they do it and they can't do it properly without the budget. Just look at the movie John Carter as evidence of why the big companies would rather play it safe sometimes. It can't even be prevented by following a formula because that's precisely what can lead to games and movies being generic.

The App Store even helps the big companies here because they have lower standards so EA and Gameloft can expend very little effort and still blow away the quality of the indie developers. I would bet the big publishers are the ones taking away most of the App Store payouts:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-32973_3-57392575-296/apples-app-store-an-economy-for-1-percent-of-developers/

Obviously with a few exceptions like Rovio who come up with a quirky enough app to make a hit.
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