Tuesday, July 4, 2023

The Trouble With Mac Gaming

John Voorhees:

Quinn Nelson of Snazzy Labs has an excellent video about the trouble with gaming on the Mac. The video’s title says it all: “Macs Can Game. But Apple Can’t.” As Nelson explains, it’s not the hardware or the software that’s holding the platform back. It’s the size of the Mac market and the lack of any apparent strategy to attract more than a few big-name game studios to the Mac.

John Siracusa:

I’m not linking this @snazzyq video just because it agrees with everything I’ve been saying for years on @atpfm about Apple and gaming…but it’s also not a coincidence that so many knowledgeable people have the same thoughts on the subject.

Peter Cohen:

So Game Porting Toolkit a starting point for Mac games, not an endpoint. In fact, getting games working on the Mac platform has never really been the issue. I’ve been covering this scene now for 30 years. Finding someone to convert game code to run on the Mac isn’t the problem. Game devs today are better at building portable code than they used to, and the tools they rely on are better at targeting multiple platforms, too.

Business is the issue that’s stymied Mac games over the years. Game publishers often avoid the Mac platform because they don’t see the revenue potential. The counterargument is that Mac users don’t buy enough games because they aren’t out at the same time or in the same quantity as Windows. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum.


After Apple announced Game Porting Toolkit, I did a straw poll of veteran Mac game developers. General consensus was interest, but eye rolls too. The mood can be summarized as, “We’ll see how long this lasts.”

What do they mean? Apple’s infamous for shifting priorities after announcing new game technology and walking away from it.

See also: Microsoft’s gaming strategy.


Update (2023-07-10): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Update (2023-08-04): Samuel Axon (Hacker News):

Apple’s macOS has been the second most popular operating system on the Steam game distribution platform for a long time, but that has now changed. Linux has surpassed macOS for the No. 2 spot, according to Steam’s July user hardware survey.

Update (2023-08-09): mikeymikey:

Mac is at 1.84%, Linux is at 1.96% - but 42% of that is Steam Deck

So really the breakdown would be more accurate as:

  • 1.84% Mac
  • 1.14% Linux
  • 0.82% Steam Deck

If we’re gonna play perspective games, I’d much rather paint this as “Valve’s successful launch of their own gaming console has already almost equaled the total number of active Steam Linux users” 🙃

Jan Ekholm:

The alternative interpretation is that “company launches marginal handheld devices, almost eclipses Apple’s all efforts in a year”. The gist here was however that Apple is so inept when it comes to gaming that it’s comical.

Colin Cornaby:

Kind of worried Blizzard is just starting to let the Mac go in their few remaining games. World of Warcraft has a few glaring and obvious graphical issues in the Metal renderer that have survived for months now. My gear isn’t even textured on the character screen.

Roger Ogden:

As I understand it, the Metal version of WoW would not exist if it wasn’t one person’s passion project. It’s apparently no one’s job to maintain a Metal version of the game, and that makes me sad.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

1990s Apple: "Hey, we can beat DEC in the enterprise. Let's do A/UX/PowerOpen/PowerTalk/Apple Network Servers+AIX for a couple of years, then bury them"

2000s Apple: "Hey, let's commit to the enterprise again, but for, like, I dunno, six years? Then we'll pretend that never happened"

2020s Apple: "Maybe we could do a really lackluster job of supporting game developers for a couple of years too. Game devs have never heard of A/UX or Xserves, right?"

Sounds like GameSprockets all over again.

I haven't paid a significant amount of money for a Mac game since Apple nuked my Steam library for the 64bit transition.

Kevin Schumacher

> Apple nuked my Steam library

That's not particularly accurate. They removed 32-bit app support, and some Steam games fall into that category. Just as any number of other apps that haven't been updated in years do. (And, granted, some that have been updated recently.) But that is the developer's choice, and it's not like there isn't widespread x64 support on the Windows side if they chose to move to 64-bit.

There are things that are fair to blame Apple directly for (particularly when it comes to games) but I don't think finally dropping 32-bit support after years of notice is one of them.

(Also, there are lots of Steam games that still run today. I delayed upgrading from Mojave for years because of it and when finally forced to jump to Ventura because I bought a new Mac, found there wasn't a huge number of my games I couldn't use.)

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