Macworld UK spoke with MacSoft and Destineer/Bold president, and former Bungie executive Peter Tamte last month.
What follows are selected highlights from the interview, which is available at newsagents now in Macworld's Expo issue.
Tamte created Destineer after Microsoft acquired popular Mac games developer Bungie in its quest to collect the skills it needed to spearhead Xbox games-development.
At that time, Mac users were looking forward to the release of then in-production game, Halo, development of which originally began on Macs. Following the acquisition, the development team built the game for Xbox. Halo for the Mac has only just shipped and is available now.
Macworld asked: "What was the feeling within Bungie when it was acquired by the software giant?"
"Feeling was mixed into two camps – there were those with a long Mac history who didn’t like the plan. Others thought we'd have a larger impact on games in general with Microsoft's backing, and we wanted to take the opportunity to make the launch game for Xbox," Tamte said.
Bungie's Halo was widely regarded as the defining first-person shooter on consoles, winning numerous awards and selling three million copies.
Competition with Sony
When Microsoft took over Bungie, some Mac users accused it of trying to stifle Mac games development. Tamte refuted this: "First, Microsoft does not view the Mac games market as a threat; second, look at what happened – Microsoft announced it would bring Halo to the Mac, and immediately agreed a deal with Destineer to bring not just Halo, but a whole flock of Microsoft games to the platform".
Microsoft was also shopping for talent to help boost Xbox sales, Tamte said: "Harnessing Bungie's innovation was an opportunity to help create a brand-new console platform that could compete with Sony. It was a lot more about competing with Sony than competing with Apple."
Halo is now available for Macs and PCs – and MacSoft has kept its promise to ensure that PC and Mac gamers can play the game together over a network. Tamte confirmed that this was no mean feat; entire chunks of code had to be rewritten to support this.
But Mac gamers are in for a treat, Tamte promised: "Halo is one of the first games to really push Apple's new G5 hardware," he said, adding: "If you've just bought a new G5 and you want to see what a great game will look like on it, Halo is the game that will give you that experience," he said.
Tamte confirmed some of MacSoft's plans for the coming year: "Our plan in 2004 is to continue releasing the most interesting PC games that we can, and also to broaden into offering more family-oriented content to supplement this."
Hardcore gamers needn't worry – the company has plans there as well: "We will release as many products for hardcore gamers in 2004 as we did in 2003," Tamte promised.
Macworld's Expo issue is still available on the newsstand – but only for a limited period. This issue also contains UK exclusive previews of Halo and MacSoft's successor to Age of Empires, Age of Mythology.
It also contains extensive reviews of Adobe CS, new Palm handhelds, information to help notebook users, eight ways to speed up Microsoft Office, and much more. It costs £4.99. You can order the issue and subscribe online.
Subscribers also gain exclusive access to online-only content, including this week's in-depth look at Panther's Font Book utility.