Origin is a free application that acts as a front-end store, game launcher, and back-end DRM service. It first launched on Windows in June 2011 and has since expanded in limited fashion to iOS and by integrating with sites like Facebook.
As of the date of this article, 49 OS X-compatible titles are available to download, including older casual games like Peggle and newer games like Batman: Arkham City. Prices range from US$9.95 to $49.99.
EA Origin Vice President Michael Blank explained the company’s decision to bring Origin to the Mac, as reported by AppleInsider:
We're seeing increased activity from our Mac gamers. In the past, we've brought games slower to market for Mac than for PC partly because the audience hasn't been at the same level. The growth of iOS and Mac devices, though, means we're starting to see gamers demand to play their games on devices that are becoming more prominent. I think, across the board, developers have focused on the PC platform, but I think you're going to start seeing some changes there. [Origin] is the first step in a strategy you're going to start seeing coming out of EA.
The launch of Origin on Mac foreshadows the next installment of the SimCity city management simulator, simply called SimCity. The game is scheduled to launch on Windows in March with EA promising an OS X release shortly thereafter.
With Origin’s launch, EA is following a similar path to that of Valve’s Steam platform. Steam initially launched on Windows in 2003 but expanded to OS X in May 2010. The two services are also historically linked; prior to the launch of Origin, Steam carried several key EA titles such as the Mass Effect and Battlefield series. EA was the target of stiff criticism when it decided to make new titles Origin exclusives.
The launch of Steam, the Mac App Store, and now Origin on OS X indicate that Mac gaming is growing stronger even as portable devices like the iPad consume most casual gamers’ time. It remains to be seen, however, if the continuing segmentation of game distribution will help or hinder gaming’s foothold on Apple’s desktop operating system.
Origin for Mac is available now from EA’s Origin website. It requires a Mac with a Core 2 Duo CPU and OS X 10.6.8 or later.