Speaking exclusively to our sister site Eurogamer.net, Maxis's Patrick Buechner has explained why Spore is to be released in Europe on September 5, two days earlier than in the US.
Asked if Maxis was always aiming for a simultaneous release Buechner said, "Oh, absolutely. Europe probably represents about 60 per cent or more of our PC business, so getting it right in Europe is going to be a real focus over the next few months."
"Getting the launch right, getting the game working right here, getting those online features working in Europe... Europe is the priority for Spore," he continued.
Spore has been delayed several times since the original projected release of 2006, and more recent launch windows of late 2007 and spring 2008. September 5 is the first official date given and Buechner is confident it won't change.
"We wanted to be able to give a date that we knew that we could stick to," he said, explaining the long wait for release date confirmation. "And we're really confident that we're going to be able to make this date."
"It is a little bit later and some people are sad," he confessed, but added that public reaction has mostly been positive. "Most of the fansites that I was reading, and most of the forum posts that I was reading, they're just really happy to have an actual date that's official."
At a preview event earlier this week, Buechner had said that Spore was "almost done".
"We're spending a lot of time doing usability testing, and there's a lot of polishing and tuning that needs to be done," he explained. The online content-sharing features of the Sporepedia, which will also be available on the Spore.com website, are a particular challenge, he noted.
"Anything online is a challenge to get right and make sure that it's operating smoothly. We're doing load-testing over the next several months just to make sure that all those systems work, so that when you turn it on in September it doesn't have any major issues." However, he stated that there wouldn't be a public beta test before launch.
"Also... It's just a really big game," he said. "Anything from the microbial level up to travelling through space; the sheer scale of it is pretty mind-boggling."
Buechner confirmed the Mac and DS versions of Spore will launch simultaneously with the PC game, although the release date for the mobile phone game "may be just a little bit different".
Commenting on the unusual simultaneous release for the Mac port he said, "I think Spore really fits with the Mac audience. We know we can reach out to the gamers, they're already pretty excited, but the creativity elements of Spore will really appeal to that Macintosh user mentality. They probably think of themselves as creative folks on the cutting edge of technology, and Spore fits in with that."
Finally, Buechner confirmed that a Wii version of Spore is in the works at Maxis, but "it'll be some time". Asked if it would be close to the scope of the PC and Mac game, or a more limited spin-off like the DS version, he would only say, "We're not porting it over. You know, we're still so early in design and prototyping that I don't know where we're going to end up, so I don't want to lead you down one path. But suffice to say that it's being developed with the Wii controls and technology in mind."
In terms of other formats, Buechner simply said that "nothing has been announced" - so we would suggest PS3 and 360 owners don't hold their collective breath.