The Mac’s gaming capabilities are less than desirable, but a new macOS feature might change the future of Apple’s AAA gaming.
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Apple gaming has long been a running joke in the PC gaming community. While Mac is well-known for video editing, graphics, and design work (it truly is the crème de la crème), its gaming capabilities tend to fall short. Because developers optimize for Windows, most AAA gamers prefer Windows as their operating system of choice. More games are available for Windows, and Windows games typically run faster than comparable macOS games. However, a new macOS feature may change the future of Mac gaming and finally bring an end to the old adage that Macs can’t play AAA games.
Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) brought some exciting news for gamers and game developers: DirectX 12 support for macOS. Yes, Apple’s software engineering team has created a new Game Porting Toolkit to translate and run the most recent DirectX 12 Windows games on macOS, making it simpler and quicker to port Windows games to Mac. It also allows developers to run an unmodified version of a Windows game on a Mac before fully porting it.
“The new Game Porting Toolkit provides an emulation environment to run your existing unmodified Windows game and you can use it to quickly understand the graphics feature usage and performance potential of your game when running on a Mac,” Aiswariya Sreenivassan, an engineering project manager for GPUs and graphics at Apple, explained at the WWDC session last week.
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The new toolkit includes a compatibility layer allowing programmers and gamers to run DirectX 12 games on macOS. The toolkit’s code is built on Proton, a Wine-based compatibility layer developed by Valve to run Windows games on Linux. It’s also based on the source code of CodeWeavers’ CrossOver, which is already working on its compatibility layer for running DX 12 games on Mac.
“We have decades of experience creating ports with Wine, and we are very pleased that Apple is recognizing that Wine is a fantastic solution for running Windows games on macOS. We did not work with Apple on this tool, but we would be delighted to work with any game developers who try out the Game Porting Toolkit and see the massive potential that Wine offers. Our PortJump team has perfected the art and science of creating ports of Windows applications using our Wine technology, and we welcome inquiries about how we can help get your game working on macOS. We are also excited by the potential that the Game Porting Toolkit can offer CrossOver. We announced last week that we have preliminary DirectX 12 support on macOS coming in CrossOver 23, and we are eager to build on that momentum. As we learn more, we will be sharing updates in future posts.” shared Meredith Johnson, QA and CrossOver product manager at Codeweavers.
The Game Porting Toolkit is currently intended for use by development teams as an evaluation solution (before making total conversions). Apple believes that its game porting toolkit will contribute to “eliminating months of upfront work and enabling developers to see how well their existing game could run on Mac in just a few days.” Apple hopes that developers will use the Game Porting Toolkit as a starting point for optimizing game code and shaders to ensure that Mac gamers have a good gaming experience. The unspoken (but obvious implication) is that those developers or studios will then submit the newly “converted” titles to the Mac App Store, where Apple takes a 30% revenue cut. And depending on the work involved and the potential user base, some studios and developers may choose to do so.
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Sources: Apple Newsroom, Code Weavers, Inverse