Apple held its annual WWDC developer conference early Tuesday morning, touting all things iOS 16, watchOS 9 and Mac OS Ventura. It also launched new Apple Silicon in the upcoming M2 chip. And while M2 looks fierce, Apple used this bad boy to make another play at gamers.
Why won’t y’all just be a MacBook gamer?
There’s no denying the new M2 chip is a powerful piece of kit. I’m currently typing on the 2021 MacBook Pro which boasts the M1 chip and I have to say, I put this thing through a lot. While the refreshed MacBook Pro (and MacBook Air) might be even better thanks to the M2, Apple might have some better luck marketing this thing at creators, not gamers. But Apple gonna do what Apple wanna do.
Here’s what Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of software engineering, had to say:
“We’re at a point where two things are really coming together. First, Apple Silicon has changed everything, it’s taking the graphics performance of every new Mac to new heights, giving Macs the power to run the most demanding games with ease,” he said during WWDC Tuesday morning.
“Second, the Mac is more popular than ever and it’s a huge and fast-growing opportunity for game developers.”
“And since we have a unified silicon architecture spanning from iPhone and iPad all the way up to M1 Ultra, game developers can scale the quality and performance of their titles across the entire line,” Federighi added.
Jeremy Sandmel, Apple’s senior director of GPU software, then came in to talk about Metal 3, which he said would bring new features that will unleash the full potential of Apple Silicon, for years to come.
“Gaming at maximum resolution and quality looks awesome and to help game developers, increase the performance of realistic and immersive graphics, we’re introducing MetalFX Upscaling which enables developers to render rich, visually complex scenes, even faster,” he explained.
So how does MetalFX Upscaling work? It works by rendering smaller, less compute intensive frames and then applies high quality spatial upscaling and temporal anti-aliasing. No Man’s Sky (which is coming to Mac later this year) will be one of the first games to use MetalFX Upscaling.
Sandmel reckons MetalFX Upscaling gives a responsive feel, and that it also makes games look beautiful. I mean, it does. But that’s because your machines are great for content creators.
Another area Sandmel said Apple is improving things is game loading.
“Games continue to push the boundaries and appear more realistic than ever before by using richer textures and more geometric detail, which can take a while to load,” he said. Yep. “So, Metal 3 adds a new fast resource loading API that minimises wait time by providing a more direct path from the storage to the unified memory system.”
TL;DR: the GPU can more quickly access high-quality textures and buffers without waiting.
“Metal 3 and Apple Silicon enable even more immersive visuals, faster performance and quicker loading. This really is a new day for gaming on the Mac,” he said.
But Apple didn’t stop there. Sandmel brought in Masaru Ijuin, Capcom’s advanced technical research division manager. Aka the team behind Resident Evil Village.
“It is with great pleasure that we’re brining our latest instalment to Apple’s amazing Mac lineup, powered by Apple Silicon,” he said, via a translation. “The Apple Silicon is a great platform for games. And with support for new Metal 3, our game screams on Apple Silicon.
“And with MetalFX Upscaling, we’re able to render amazing high-resolution visuals across the entire line, with MacBook Air running effortlessly at 1080p and Mac Studio delivering a breathtaking 4K experience.”
“We’re simply astounded by the fidelity these new Macs enabled us to achieve … we can’t wait to get this game into the hands of Mac gamers everywhere.”
Has Apple WWDC sold you on being a Mac gamer? Would you ever convert? Do you think Apple is pushing into the space too late, or is there room for them as a new power in games hardware?