Apple takes drastic step for PC gaming on Mac

Apple prend une mesure radicale pour les jeux PC sur Mac

The Mac's gaming capabilities are far from desirable, but a new macOS feature could change the future of Apple's AAA games.

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Apple games have long been a butt of jokes in the PC gaming community. While the Mac is well known for video editing, graphics, and design (it's truly the cream of the crop), its gaming capabilities tend to leave something to be desired. 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 generally run faster than comparable macOS games. However, a new feature in macOS could change the future of Mac gaming and put an end to the old adage that Macs can't play AAA games.

Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) brought exciting news for gamers and game developers: DirectX 12 support for macOS. Indeed, Apple's software engineering team has created a new Game Porting Toolkit to translate and run the latest Windows DirectX 12 games on macOS, making porting Windows games to Mac simpler and faster. 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 for running 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,” explained Aiswariya Sreenivassan, engineering project manager for GPUs and graphics at Apple, during last week’s WWDC session.

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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 for running Windows games on Linux. It's also based on CrossOver source code from CodeWeavers, which is already working on its compatibility layer to run DX 12 games on Mac.

“We have decades of experience creating ports with Wine, and we're very pleased that Apple recognizes that Wine is a fantastic solution for running Windows games on macOS. We haven't worked with Apple on this tool, but we would love to work with any game developers who try the Game Porting Toolkit and see the enormous potential that Wine offers. Our PortJump team has perfected the art and science of creating Windows application ports using our Wine technology, and we're happy to receive inquiries about how we can help you get it working your game on macOS. We're also excited about the potential that the Game Porting Toolkit can bring to CrossOver. We announced last week that preliminary support for DirectX 12 on macOS was coming in CrossOver 23, and we look forward to building on that momentum. As we learn more, we will share updates in future articles,” said Meredith Johnson, Quality Assurance and CrossOver Product Manager at Codeweavers.

The Game Porting Toolkit is currently intended for use by development teams as an evaluation solution (before proceeding with full conversions). Apple believes its game porting kit will help “eliminate months of up-front work and allow developers to see how their existing game could work on Mac in just a few days.” Apple hopes that developers will use the Game Porting Toolkit as a starting point to optimize game code and shaders to ensure Mac gamers have a good gaming experience. The unspoken (but obvious) implication is that these developers or studios will submit then the newly “converted” titles to the Mac App Store, where Apple takes a 30% share of the revenue. Depending on the work required and the potential user base, some studios and developers may choose to do this.

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Sources: Apple Newsroom, Code Weavers, Inverse