In previous article about how Apple’s future ARM-based Macs will no longer come with discrete GPUs, with evidence from Apple’s own developer tutorial videos. But I keep seeing countless comments saying that gaming is now officially dead on the Mac, with reasons ranging from the new architecture not being able to compete in the gaming segment and Apple Silicon not having enough graphics power without a discrete GPU, and a lot of people saying that game developers now have no reason to make games for Mac anymore.
But I’ve been digging through all of Apple’s developer videos, and I’ve found something that Apple has never done before, that will greatly encourage AAA game developers to make games for the Mac, so I’m here to tell you that Apple Silicon is actually the birth of gaming on the Mac.
They are not going to support Windows 10 using bootcamp, and they’re not going to support high-end No, Apple Silicon Macs Nvidia or AMD discrete graphics. Apple will have a custom ARM-based CPU and GPU built into one System on a chip, or SoC, basically one big chip.
If you find it hard to believe that they can achieve enough performance without a dedicated GPU, then you should definitely check out previous article. But the most important thing that people don’t realize, is that Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox Series X do not have discrete GPUs either, both the CPU and the GPU are on one main chip, on both of the most popular gaming consoles ever.
So if high end-game console makers are switching to this type of technology, why can’t Apple? And even if they manage to pull off great performance, there’s still the problem of why game developers will finally decide to bring their games to the Mac, and here’s what I found hidden deep in one of those Apple developer videos.
For the first time ever, Apple is opening up their Metal developer tools to be used on Windows machines. And Apple did this with gaming in mind! This means that large mainstream game studios and developers that use Windows machines to create their games will finally have access to create games for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and the Mac using their current Windows machines.
Previously, a game production team had to invest into Apple Mac computers for their entire team in order to create games for macOS. Because of that, there are services like MacStadium which allow you to rent a Mac from a server farm, but that can get seriously expensive. But now, Apple literally created a Windows installer for their Metal tools specifically for creating games for Apple Silicon.
That little piece of info came out of a 36-minute-long video that Apple created which talks about how to create GPU binaries with Metal, which is needed for gaming. And that long video includes a section talking about how Epic Games was able to optimize Fortnite using Metal for the Mac.
Not only that, but they have multiple tutorial videos focused on helping developers bring their apps and games to Apple Silicon Macs. And the absolute best part about these upcoming ARM-based Macs is that they will natively be able to run any iOS or iPad app. So every single game and app that you have on your iPhone or iPad right now will work on an Apple Silicon Mac on day 1.
You might be wondering, how the heck will my touch-based app or game work on a Mac that doesn’t have a touchscreen display? Well, here’s the answer from that same video:
IOS is build around direct multi-touch interaction model, but macOS is build around indirect, cursor based interaction model. Infrastructure automatically maps many multi-touch gestures
And on the iPad side, Apple is finally adding keyboard and mouse support for iPad games, which is a huge deal! So if a game developer adds that functionality, then it will automatically be supported on Apple Silicon Macs as well. And to make it even better, check out this quote from an Apple support document.
If your project supports iOS or tvOS, it also supports Apple family GPUs.
So basically, if a game developer creates a game just one time using Metal for Apple Silicon, that game will instantly become available on the iPhone, the iPad, the Apple TV and the Mac, all at the same time, and they can now use Windows to create it for the first time ever. Basically, it is now about a thousand times more worth it to create a game for the Mac than ever before, since it’ll also be instantly available on every other Apple device. The way it’ll work is that each device just has different ways of controlling the game. iPhones can use touch or game controllers. iPads can use touch, a game controller, and now finally a keyboard and mouse. The Apple TV can use a game controller. And the Mac can use either a game controller or keyboard and mouse. And what all of those have in common is a game controller, so the rumors of Apple developing a game controller could actually be true, since it makes sense for Apple to create their own to give their customers a standard controller to use for gaming across all of their platforms.
So I’d say that all of this put together is more than enough to incentivize AAA game developers to bring their game over to Apple devices, thanks to it being much easier now that they can do it using Windows, and they only need to do everything once for all Apple devices.
You could complain that the switch to the new ARM-based Macs means that support for traditional PC games is going away, and it is, since bootcamp will no longer be available, and they’re ditching Intel Macs. However, it’s been known that the PC gaming and the console gaming portions of the market have been slowly declining, while smartphone and tablet gaming has been growing very quickly. And if you look at this chart the trend is expected to continue, with 59% of the gaming market being made up of mobile gaming by 2021. This is why we’re starting to see a massive shift of high-end AAA game developers bringing their games to mobile devices.
Epic Games brought Fortnite to mobile and made $1 billion in revenue in two years with just the mobile side of their game. Blizzard brought Hearthstone to mobile and now the mobile version is making more profit than the PC version. Roblox Mobile hit $1.5 billion in lifetime revenue. Nintendo brought Pokémon GO to mobile devices and now it’s made over $3.6 billion dollars in revenue. Since Activision released Call of Duty Mobile less than a year ago, it’s been downloaded more than 250 million times. For reference, that’s more than the unit sales of every non-mobile Call of Duty game that they’ve made since 2007 combined, and Activision announced at their last earnings call that mobile is now the company’s leading platform. And looking at the future, Epic Games is currently working on bringing League of Legends to mobile. Blizzard is currently working on bringing Diablo to mobile. Apex Legends is coming to mobile. Path of Exile is coming to mobile. Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls Blades recently launched on mobile.
The point I’m trying to make is that AAA game developers are starting to bring titles to Mobile devices, because they see it as the future of gaming, despite the hardcore PC and console gaming fans which hate mobile gaming. And every single one of those popular iOS and iPad games that I mentioned will also be able to run on Apple Silicon Macs on day 1. And since ARM-based chips are getting so powerful, game developers are going to be able to bring incredible games with high quality graphics to the Mac. And yes, Ray Tracing will be supported on Apple Silicon. Apple even made a developer video at last years’ WWDC event, so this is old news.
Basically, the entire point of this article is that Apple switching to their own custom ARM-based chips does not mean the end of gaming on Mac. It’s actually closer to the BIRTH of gaming on the Mac. Now as far as when we should expect those Apple Silicon Macs, I think Apple will have an online Event this October where they will release the rumored 24” iMac, probably a new MacBook Air, and a new Apple TV, all powered by new ARM-based chips.