While licenses to obtain middleware arenit typically big news in the game business, Havokis Thursday announcement that Blizzard had licensed its physics engine for undisclosed Mac/PC games was a big deal simply because it has never appeared on the Mac platform before.
As Macworldis Peter Cohen observed, Havok has been used in many popular Windows and console titles, but exorbitant licensing fees have forced many Mac publishers to either seek out alternate solutions -- MacSoft is employing Ageiais PhysX engine in its Age of Empires III port, rather than license Havok, which was used in the PC edition of the game -- or simply abandon PC-to-Mac conversions of high-profile projects, such as Uru: Ages Beyond Myst.
Havokis vice-president of product management, Jeff Yates, said in a press release: "The Mac is an important piece of technology and because of the cross-platform nature of Havokis technology, the port to Mac was easy to do. Furthermore, Blizzard Entertainmentis commitment to OS X and to the Mac community is a good indication of the growth potential of the Mac as a games platform. Blizzard has always put out great games on the Mac, and we look forward to Havok becoming a part of that tradition."
Blizzard keeps its plans close to its chest, so it had no comment Thursday on the Mac/PC games that will use Havok 4.0. In addition to Warcraft, which has exploded in popularity thanks to World of Warcraft, the companyis Starcraft and Diablo franchises still boast devoted followers.
There was also no word from Havok whether its licensing fees will drop, enabling Mac publishers to use the physics engine for their ports. Blizzardis purchase obviously does not guarantee Havokis availability throughout the Mac gaming world.