Apple Still Wants You To Be A Mac Gamer

Apple Still Wants You To Be A Mac Gamer
Jeremy Sandmel, Apple senior director of GPU software. Image: Apple

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.

apple gamer wwdc
Image: Apple

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.”

OK…

“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.

apple gamer wwdc mac
Image: Apple

“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.”

He added:

“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?

Comments

  • Mac Gaming is almost a contradiction in terms – so many half-assed attempts over decades. If they were to somehow combine the app store onto a Mac, and how all of those existing games work on a Mac with mouse & keyboard, this announcement might have been interesting. But just picking one or two games to work on Mac natively ain’t gonna cut it.

  • So far my experience with gaming on a Mac has been:
    a) most games are windows only
    b) games are available for mac but not for Catalina or above so if you want to play your older games you cannot upgrade your OS past Mojave. (due to 32bit apps no longer being supported)
    c) games are available for M1 macs but unsupported on older ones. (If you’re between Majove and M1 I guess that would suck.)
    d) game devs are willing to support mac but:
    1) not enough people game on macs – its not worth developing/porting a game for the sometimes <5% of the market that would buy the game.
    2) Apple keep changing things and its not worth the effort to develop/port to Mac.

    If a Mac user tries to bring any of this up anywhere at all the response is usually:

    From other Mac Users: Mac's aren't really designed for gaming. The only way you can game is to install Bootcamp. Or use GeoForce Now. Yes, even for games you can install natively on Mac. They run better via Bootcamp.

    Everyone else: "LOL gaming on a mac. Get a real computer."

    I saw on the steam forum not long ago where a game dev was asked why there was wasn't Mac version of the game and they were like, "if people with Macs wish-listed the game we'd see there was interest in it, and then maybe develop a Mac version" and the Mac people responded with "well we aren't going to wishlist a game we can't play" and the response was basically, "shrugs shoulders".

    So its all very well and good that Apple wants to improve their graphics etc and make it great for playing games, but its a lot more complicated than that. They need to support game devs and make it easier to access games outside of the Mac App Store which is mostly just apple arcade and a handful of over priced games.

    • Also, as an aside, the Epic Games war with Apple hurt Mac gaming a little bit. We lost Fortnight in all that (and were left with the watered down basic Fortnite without the season pass) and the Epic Games store usually has games that are available for Mac on Steam, but not on Epic as apparently the process is too complicated/expensive and not worth it. So thats another reason why gaming on Mac isn’t doing very well.

    • Alllll of this. Apple won’t ever get gaming right because their ecosystem is a bitch to developers.

  • I could see it working if Steam + Proton worked…

    I mean does it work? I haven’t looked/checked at all

  • Apple wants people to game but is unwilling to put any effort in to supporting gaming.

    The lack of 32bit support on modern systems is a deal breaker.

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