Electronic Arts (EA) plans to launch the long-awaited Mac version of SimCity at 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM Eastern) on Thursday, August 28th. You can download and "preload" it now, and activate it once it's officially released.
SimCity was released earlier this year for Windows. The game is a reboot of the classic city-building franchise originally developed by Will Wright - the first major installment of SimCity in nigh on a decade.
The new SimCity's gameplay has been reimagined to be a more social experience, connecting your city with other players online. It's received criticism for requiring a persistent Internet connection - some gamers have decried the move as a form of draconian copy protection.
SimCity's PC launch was fraught with problems - at first gamers were unable to download the game from EA's overloaded "Origin" gaming service; then SimCity servers disconnected players and didn't save their games in progress. Those issues have been ironed out, and Maxis has steadily updated the game since then.
The Mac version was originally planned for a June launch but Maxi postponed the release, saying it needed additional time to make the game work well for Mac users. Maxis confirmed earlier this month that things were a go for August 29th.
Many of EA's Mac game releases in recent years have been converted using TransGaming's Cider translation layer technology, derived from a proprietary fork of the Wine application which helps Windows software run on Unix-like operating systems. This process that requires less reengineering than a complete conversion to Mac code, but some gamers don't like Cider titles as much as "native" Mac versions. SimCity is not such a conversion - it's native Mac code.
In a post on Twitter, Maxis general manager Patrick Buechner advised gamers to avoid the rush and download it now.
When you purchase it through the SimCity web site, you're asked to buy the PC version - the Mac version is included at no extra charge - you'll see it in your cart when you check out. (If you already own the PC version, you'll also get the Mac version.) Two versions are available - the standard SimCity release and a "Deluxe Edition" that includes four add-on packs with additional content: Heroes and Villains Set, French City Set, German City Set and British City Set.