As promised, I went by Riot Games today in Los Angeles, and got the lowdown on the long-awaited (but soon-to-be-released) Mac client for the company's popular game League of Legends from PR manager Chris Heintz. Heintz told me that the Mac version of the game is already up and running on the Public Beta Environment, and that it should be available as an Open Beta on the live servers "soon. Not 'Soon (TM)'," he told me, "but soon. I would imagine within a month."
So what happened? Why did we hear about a Mac version years ago and then see Riot shut it down without releasing it? "When we originally developed the Mac client, we developed it with a partner, and it was a port, effectively. Our service model and how rapidly we patch wasn't really compatible with that approach, and also the performance and stability of that client wasn't up to our players' expectations, and so we killed it," says Heintz. But this new version, developed internally at Riot, is set to run the game natively on OS X. "As soon as we closed down the earlier Mac beta, we had always planned from that moment to develop a native Mac client that would actually be able to serve the needs of Mac players. We knew it was going to take some time, but we wanted to do it right."
In the meantime, Riot even saw a group of players develop an unofficial Mac port of the game, and Heintz says those players were used during the beta test of this new version. "The beta crew that we went after was the iLoL community. Instead of trying to recruit a new community we already had that group of tens of thousands of dudes. And so we invited them."
Heintz says that Riot doesn't have any major expectations for what the new client might do to its already impressive 12 million players a day. He says the company already knows the community wants to play the game on Macs. "We think that alone justifies the Mac client. There's already demand -- there was a Change.org petition just for us to treat Mac users the same! And so we're sorry it took a while, but we're here."