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The state of Mac gaming (arstechnica.com)
105 points by mpweiher 123 days ago | hide | past | web | 95 comments | favorite



I don't want to be dismissive, but this article talks about the graphics APIs and the hardware architecture (x86) yet fails to address the elephant in the room there: Cider ports. That is, macOS games which are actually Windows games running atop the the WINE-based proprietary middleware known as Cider.

Cider has both been a great boon to Mac gaming — it makes it cheap and quick to port Windows-only titles to the Mac without having to make them internally cross-platform — and also a great detriment: its Windows translation layer imposes a performance penalty and prevents true native feel, and crucially, many such games are using Cider's slow Direct3D-to-OpenGL translator, which is not only slower than real Direct3D (thus why such games will always run better under Windows in Boot Camp on the same hardware), and limits you to the Direct3D 9 featureset, but it is also translating to a graphics API Apple basically don't care about now (OpenGL).

The good news is that more and more games are using commodity engines, and those engines usually have proper native macOS support, and ideally Metal support. Nonetheless, Cider ports are very much a thing that must still be contended with.

For a recent high-profile case of Cider causing trouble, Square Enix went the cheap route when they ported their MMORPG, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, to the Mac, and used Cider. The result was infamously bad and they had to pull it from the shelves. They did of course fix it up and re-release it, but even then, the resulting port is slower than and graphically inferior to simply running the game under Windows, because it's stuck with fake Direct3D 9. On Windows you get to choose between Direct3D 9 and Direct3D 11.


For me, the big problem with mac gaming is that my $3k+ work laptop has a fairly shitty integrated gpu and even the dedicated gpu is pretty low end compared to what you can get in a non-mac laptop.

This means that, even though 1/3rd of my steam library has mac versions, half of these games don't actually run well.

(Disclaimer: since switching to mac, I typically game only on PS4 nowadays, which I guess probably doesn't have better hardware, but at least has well optimised games and lots of awesome exclusives)


I have the same issue, for just over $1/hour I run a g2 instance on AWS and game using http://parsec.tv -- 1440p at 60fps without breaking a sweat. It's revitalised my gaming hobby, and works wonderfully


Wow. How is that possible with non-local bandwidth and latency?


Some neat protocols. I've got a 25ms RTT from my home PC to my server in Sydney, which is basically less than a frame (ish), it's definitely enough for me to be competitive in-game.

Interesting fact: my in-game ping is usually 1 or 0, because its in the same data centre as the dedicated servers, heh. Removes another possible bit of latency, which is nice!


Those games might run better on Windows on the same hardware.


Could you use an external GPU along with Windows?


I always heard the Mac port of FF14 had issues. I just never knew what they were or how they affected the game until now. I think Square Enix demanding you buy a license for each platform you play the game on (non-Steam, Steam, Mac, PS4) is ridiculous and refuse to buy the same game twice. If I want to play on my Mac, I do the same thing I do for Overwatch, boot into Windows or play on my PC.


People still do Cider ports?

I thought Cider's performance and feature set had fallen dramatically behind Wine years ago, in part because some parts of their stack do rendering in software instead of hardware (the D3D to OpenGL translation is not the slow step in the process).


Apparently. Though it was discontinued a little while ago, so I assume we won't see more in future. At least, not under that name.


I was just about to say I remember a lot of speculation was that FFXIV was done this way. I luckily didn't have too many issues with the original version on the Mac but it did randomly quit and it ran very hot.

I haven't tried the new version but I'm okay with getting these versions that are degraded instead of not having a game. Which makes me wonder how they're doing this nearly flawlessly on consoles. There has to be some performance hit due to making the game work with the various translation layers but in reality I hardly notice them. Would be nice if they could get it that performant with Mac.


I must admit I haven't actually tried the Mac version of it myself, I'm just going by what I've heard. I got into the game when there was no macOS version available; I would probably try the Mac version now, but Square Enix have the cheek to charge you the full price of the game again for each new platform you play on, so I'm sticking with my Windows license. Besides, I switched to playing on a PC under my desk, because beating the MacBook Air graphically is not hard.

As for how it's able to work on consoles, presumably the console versions are proper ports that actually use the native APIs. The game was designed with the PlayStation 3 specifically in mind, after all.


How did they make Cider proprietary, when WINE is Gplv2 (as far as I know)?


WINE wasn't originally licensed under the GPL. Because of Cider's predecessor making a commercial fork of WINE, WINE relicensed to GPL to prevent further incorporation of WINE code without releasing source. Thus, Cider is ultimately based on a really old version of WINE. A lot of it will be original code.


We're LGPL, actually, precisely so commercial software can use Wine to do their ports.


Ah, I didn't know it was LGPL. Anyway, that's true, but you have to release the source.


I work for a game publisher. We do not suggest developing for Mac. If you're building your game in Unity and can export it in Mac, then great (although now you have to factor in extra support). Otherwise, don't waste your time. Mac accounts for 3% in Steam [1], and Linux is even worse off.

Development time is better spent on internationalization than getting a working Mac build.

And I say this being a Mac user myself. Games actually run really well on my MacbookPro. But from a business standpoint, I wouldn't develop for Mac.

[1] http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/?platform=combined


The economics may make sense, but it's also a self-fulfilling prophecy: People don't play Steam games on Macs because there are hardly any games!

There's a reason lots of people dual-boot into Bootcamp. I would love to play more games on my Mac, as opposed to under Windows or on my console, but the selection is terrible. Even when the engine the developers have used compiles for Mac, developers often don't do a port. That extends to indie games, too; still no Downwell for Mac, for example, despite the fact that it was made with GameMaker, which supports macOS as a target. Wadjet Eye, which produces a lot of technologically basic point and click adventure games, are very inconsistent about their releases; some games are releases on macOS, but most aren't.

Mac is also treated as a black sheep by the Steam app, to the extent that it's its own distinct item [1] in the genre list, next to "Action", "Adventure" and so on, and if you're a Mac Steam will still happily bury you in Windows games, despite the fact that they aren't playable.

Apple may be blamed on the AAA game situation, but for everything else (and most games aren't AAA), it's squarely on publishers, developers, and Steam.

[1] http://i.imgur.com/lE4NZsj.png


>(and most games aren't AAA) You're right, but AAA sells make up the biggest fraction of game sales. Why should I buy a Mac for gaming if I can't play games like Call of Duty, Overwatch, GTA V or The Witcher 3? AA and Indie games are a niche market, not driving factors.

There is also a factor that you can't really blame on anyone: OS market share. Even if more Mac (and Linux) users would buy games, the time worked on porting and support would likely still result in a net loss.


Porting shouldn't be too hard, if you're using good engine. Support for users is proportional to number of users. Very limited choice of hardware and generally up-to-date software should tremendously help with support as well. It might be a net loss for very niche games, but for a few thousand sales it shouldn't be that bad IMO.

Also the fact that there are not that many games on macOS helps as well. I wouldn't buy Civilization, but I bought it, because there was a moment I wanted to play something and Civilization was one of the few recognizable titles I've found in AppStore.


And I say this being a Mac user myself. Games actually run really well on my MacbookPro. But from a business standpoint, I wouldn't develop for Mac.

It also doesn't help that Apple's commitment to video games on the Mac has been inconsistent at best. They insist on developing their own perpetually out-of-date OpenGL front end rather than leaving this to Nvidia and AMD - I don't know how well those two would do as the user-space maintainers of OpenGl on MacOS, but it couldn't be much worse than Apple. Considering this, maybe its a good thing Apple isn't providing a Vulkan front-end?


In my opinion the reason the Mac marketshare is so small is because up until recently, you simply can not buy a mac with a graphics card capable of running any decent game.


> Mac accounts for 3% in Steam

Wow I really should consider myself fortunate that all the games I like are on Mac. I'd hate to have to get a separate gaming PC.


You'd just have to set up a Boot Camp partition like I did.


Linux is ramping up!

I won't play a game unless it'll somehow run on linux. I guess this means I've been playing a lot of unity / wine games :)


Aren't the major game engines already cross-platform? I'm definitely an outsider to the industry, but it almost seems like a game developer would have to go out of their way to NOT support Mac and Linux these days.

Why would one take a cross platform game engine and make the rest of the game logic Windows-only?


Of my ~500 Steam games, IIRC something like 300 have macOS builds, and about 200 for Linux.

My experience is that most small studio or "indie" games will run on all three platforms, about half of really big games have Mac releases and some much smaller portion also support Linux, and of course anything that runs under Dosbox works on all three. ~90% of the Linux games are indie or dosbox. MacOS is a much more viable platform for a gamer, also aided by being generally much less fussy/buggy for all things multimedia-dependent like games, though hindered by generally mediocre graphics cards. However you might be surprised what runs acceptably on a 2014-vintage Intel Iris graphics chip. I was.


It's not a given, even if Unity is used. For example, I've played 140 on Linux (via Steam) and loved it, so I was quite excited when the same (indie) developer had a new game, but it's only available for Windows at the moment (and Mac maybe? don't remember). I guess that, even with an engine like Unity taking care of the cross-platform support, you at least want to run a few tests on the actual target platform (instead of just dumping a compiled binary on Steam without any testing). And that costs time, and therefore money, esp. if issues are found and need to be addressed.


Because supporting Mac still requires effort on the part of the game developer. Like, you still need a Mac to test against and QA people to do the testing. The market can still be too small to justify that expense, even if the engine support is good.


mac accounting for 3% on steam isn't the indicator you seem to believe it is.


It makes the point that they were trying to make.

If you compare 3% of Mac users, to 16% whose primary language is Simplified Chinese, 13% whose primary language is Russian, and so on, there might be better areas to expand your game into than onto the Mac.

When you're a commercial entity with finite resources, you have to evaluate what is likely to net a greater rate of return, a niche OS, or a much less niche language. With unlimited resources you can do both, but few companies can allocate money things that won't pay for themselves.


3% does not represent the potential market share among OSX users for your game.


Absolutely. That's best case scenario.


No it isn't.


Mac gaming isn't going to go much of anywhere... I mean, Apple is still trying to push Metal instead of updating OpenGL on macOS. Practically no one except the largest AAA developers and engine authors care about Metal. Everyone else doesn't have the time or money to learn another graphics API and implement it in parallel. OpenGL performance on macOS is stagnant and Vulkan is nonexistent.

Apple's hubris is starting to catch up with them. They're trying to pull devs in with Metal but are instead pushing them away by making it harder or impossible to use APIs that devs actually want. To add insult to injury, the games market on Mac is small anyway, even relative to its market share. Windows has been absolutely dominant in this space for so long that I can't believe that Apple would try to get developers working on their platform by making it harder, not easier, to develop for.


> Apple's hubris is starting to catch up with them.

If anything, their hubris has paid off. It's hard to see how mediocre gaming support has significantly hurt Apple until now. Mac gaming isn't exactly great, but it's far and away better than it was 10 years ago when I got my first Mac, and there's good reason to believe it will continue to get better. That's good for Apple and Mac users.

There's this persistent meme about Apple that their contrariness and spurning of received wisdom and practices in the rest of the industry will imminently bite them in the ass and hammer the company. It just persistently fails to actually happen.


What do you think would have happened if they had maintained really, really good OpenGL support?


* Metal wouldnt exist or would be years late - they diverted their top graphics talent from working on OpenGL to Metal.

* Apple would be one of the few remaining platforms using OpenGL, this is why Mantle and Vulkan exist because they're not the only ones looking beyond OpenGL, so they'd still be a bit of a ghetto.

* Battery life on Mac laptops would be worse, Macs would run a bit hotter and desktop performance on lower end Macs would be a bit slower still.

* Finally any commercial difference in terms of game availability or Apple's bottom line would be a rounding error on a rounding error. This is a strategic move.


People say the same thing about Nintendo, and it's odd that Nintendo and Apple are both swimming in pools of money like Scrooge McDuck despite their (so-called) "obvious missteps".


The Steam Hardware Stats [1] also show the following abysmal market share:

    Windows  96.24%
    OSX       2.95%
    Linux     0.72%
If you aren't Windows in the PC gaming space, you really don't have a leg to stand on when trying to force developers to work your way.

[1] http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/


A bunch of us have both a mac and a windows pc for gaming, and would like to just use one computer for gaming. I wonder what the stats are for users that have both, and how much more / less they spend than windows PC only users.


Sure, but Steam is a horrible experience on the Mac. When I find a game that looks cool, Steam is the last place I look for it because I hate using Steam. I go to the Mac App Store first (think about that!) because Steam is so awful. I'll even pay full price on the Mac App Store when Steam has the same game on sale because Steam is painful to use. It's only when a title can't be found outside of Steam that I use it.


On the other hand: There are very few Steam games for Mac.


As someone who games using Steam on a Mac (not a big gamer):

ouch.


I seem to recall a company called palm say almost the same thing about phones and a certain fruit company.

Be careful what you believe in.


Is Metal not squarely aimed at iOS developers though? iOS (casual) gaming is a sizeable market- I doubt it was developed with macOS as its primary focus.


Few devs work with Metal directly - iOS or otherwise. I think the play here is to get Metal adopted by popular middleware so that devs who use them get native Mac support "for free".

And it appears that gaming in general is coalescing around Unreal and Unity, and both have strong native Mac support.

Metal support I think is less of a problem than Apple's own hardware - the anemic GPUs in consumer Macs prevent most AAA titles from being playable, even if the middleware is completely abstracted out. Apple's focus on hi-dpi displays makes this even worse.

Apple doesn't seem to have a coherent strategy around this. If you look at the Mac App Store right now, the games being most heavily advertised all have very marginal performance even on higher-end Macs, and likely straight up won't run on most of their (new!) laptops. It seems absurd that Apple is so heavily marketing games that will barely run on a typical Mac.


That may be true but tech-wise no casual game I'm aware of needs Metal so the logic doesn't follow. (Specifically casual games that I've played are not pushing performance so a more performant low level API doesn't help.)


You're absolutely right. Apple is trying to make it work on Macs, which is the real issue.


This criticism doesn't make a ton of sense from a practical development standpoint in modern times, people continue to rehash the same OpenGL vs DX argument from the 90s and apply it to Metal vs Vulkan. Now, almost everyone that isn't an engine author or a large AAA game developer is using a game engine (Unity, Unreal, Game Maker, etc) and the few developers that don't are building graphically simple games where OpenGL is completely sufficient or have technical ability to port to a few different APIs without issues.

There are a couple of games with Vulkan renderers that don't support Metal that I can see this being an issue in (Doom being a good example), but id is still a AAA studio that could have someone write a Metal backend if Mac made sense to them (same way they have DX12 and gnm backends for ps4 and xbox one).

Another thing is people often assume the only cost involved in porting a game to a new platform is graphics API, which is strange, but makes sense if your exposure to graphics programming is NeHe tutorials or something. All modern engines use thin wrappers over the system graphics API and low level code that directly calls OpenGL, DX, Vulkan, Metal, etc is a very small percentage of total code. Rants about graphics API being the main bottleneck to game portability annoy me a little bit also because they ignore portability challenges that are not graphics related, and even graphics portability challenges that are not directly related to API. It's naive to think if everyone just supported Vulkan all games could be instantly compiled to every platform or even that low level graphics API calls are the hardest thing to port. I agree that metal makes things a little harder by introducing a new shading language, but cross compiling to other shader languages from hlsl or glsl is standard and mostly a solved problem by now. If you're a small developer that doesn't or can't write a thin low level graphics wrapper for your game there are good opensource libraries that will do this for you (bgfx, oryol).


Vulcan was the answer imo. I haven't seen any evidence that Metal is catching on - but would like to.


I've never understood Apple's lack of prioritization for the gaming market. Weren't games critical (albeit not as much as VisiCalc perhaps) to the Apple ]['s success? Looking at the iOS App Store, games seem to be far and away the most active and best-selling category with almost more subcategories than all the other non-game categories combined.

That said, it's nice that we're experiencing a renaissance in indie game development, which seems to rely more on cross-platform frameworks like Unity. It's possible to have a full life of gaming if you're into puzzlers/strategy games like Factorio, Rimworld, and the Fireaxis library (Civ, XCOM).


I think it's a self-fulfilling prophesy at this point. The Mac was never really a good gaming platform (and I say this as a long-time Mac user and occasional gamer) and by now the reputation is entrenched. People who want to buy a computer for games won't buy a Mac pretty much no matter what, so Apple has no reason to court them, so they won't buy Macs, so....


Well it's probably because all of their computers are prebuilt with relatively weak gpu's for gaming..even if they had prioritised it through the software how many people would game on their hardware.

Though now with thunderbolt 3 and external gpu's I think some of that excuse is gone away.


Microsoft wasn't all that different in the mid 2000s -- at one point the graphics group was getting RIFfed, and many of the principle engineers had to move to the XBox group. Apparently execs in the Windows division thought that the gaming scene was over or something. It wouldn't surprise me if Apple execs came from the same mold.


> I've never understood Apple's lack of prioritization for the gaming market.

I think people overestimate the size of the AAA video game market with high hardware requirements. That's more the domain of a minority of gaming aficionados.


The Apple of Apple II, and Apple after the Mac are two very different beasts.


I can play Civilization VI on my Mac. I'm good.

Personally I haven't bought a Steam game that hasn't had the Mac symbol on it for several years, and I used to be a heavy Windows user (still am at work and on my 'get work done' laptop). Generally requires me to get mostly indie games, but that's okay, I have consoles for the rest.


I played V, since it looked ugly, I went to Windows machine, huge difference in performance and everything, and it is same game. :(


I learned about Nvidias GeForce Now platform a few weeks back. It looked like a great solution for me for the amout of gaming I do now a days. Looks very cool check it out :)

- Pay per hours played

- 200fps with a 20-30ms delay

If you live in the U.S. you can try beta for free https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/geforce/products/geforce-now/ma...

Video of Apple Insider testing the beta https://youtu.be/XbVFemjaeP0


It's as good as your bandwidth, which means it won't be great for most Americans.


So I have google fiber. And as you note this relies on your connection. But that's only half the issue. Since getting google fiber I've realized since my pipe is no longer the issue that the service I'm connecting to is the issue. All the latency and lag and bandwidth limits I have are coming from the servers themselves and their less than stellar capacity.


I've often felt that true hard-core gaming machines were best thought of as a kind of high-end workstation, since, well, when you're a true "gamer", you're doing it in a nice dark room with booming sound, etc. Ergo, not mobile.

Given that the trashcan Mac Pro was a mess when it came to upgrading, it's clear that Apple just didn't prioritize high end workstation environments. We'll see what the next Mac Pro brings, it might be a nicer platform, but it'll be such a minuscule part of the market, I find it hard to believe many game studios will jump on it.

Otherwise, you're left with the typical Mac which often prioritizes good battery life, mobility, etc. So Macs are best left for casual gaming, but... well, phones are great at that too.

I do notice that cross platform mobile games on iPhones are significantly better performing then Android devices. So it's not that Apple doesn't prioritize gaming, just hard core "workstation style" gaming environments.


Most of the same games that run on high-end gaming machines also run on relatively low-powered consoles like the Xbox One and PS4. Heck, the Nintendo Switch uses mobile hardware and comes within spitting distance of Xbox One performance when docked.

Raw power isn't the issue. It's Apple's poor drivers and API support.


It's just interesting that the Mac drivers / APIs are just so bad when the iOS story seems to be so different.

Just today, I'm watching team mates suffer with Android freezes. This is far from the first time this has happened. There's just a ton of anecdotal evidence that indicates iOS is superior to Android for gaming.

And it's not like Mac's are having to deal with this "massive ecosystem". I mean, Windows runs on everything. And Macs, like the iPhone and iPad, really are pretty much closed ecosystems too.

So it seems there was some decision in the history of Mac OS development that has somehow screwed it over when it comes to providing drivers and APIs for game development, and, Apple can't rectify it effectively. I just wonder what that was.


I find Apple's lack of commitment to Vulkan incredibly short-sighted on their part and downright offensive to developers. At a higher level, both Metal and Vulkan address the same technical issues in previous APIs. The sheer waste of effort and squandered opportunities resulting from this type of fragmentation sometimes make me wonder if we need a regulatory agency to step in when big players show such obvious disregard for interoperability.


Back around the end of February Khronos announced a "3D Portability" initiative [1], which would abstract over Vulkan/DX12/Metal. As I understood it, this could be a pure library solution which wouldn't require support from the platform and so would be less vulnerable to blockage by the usual walled-garden merchants. It was also mooted as a possible basis for WebGL-TNG.

Unfortunately I've seen nothing but tumbleweed ever since, which makes me suspect that this is one of those Khronos initiatives that never makes it out of the hangar, much less off the ground.

[1] https://www.khronos.org/3dportability


If you want Vulkan on macOS, it exists [0].

[0]https://moltengl.com


That's a commercial emulation layer -- this may be fine for some use cases but is definitely not a satisfactory state for the graphics ecosystem on Mac.


My Mac gaming experience over the past decades has mostly been "fuck it, buy a console". Every time I try to play something on the Mac it's an uphill battle to get it to talk to any of my various controllers.

I lose mods, and I lose genres that really do work a lot better on keyboard and mouse - I've been having an on and off urge to find some kind of Settlers retread lately, for instance, and this really doesn't exist on consoles - but I gain a lot of time not spent swearing at incompatibilities.


The one game I play regularly on my Mac is Hearthstone. It's great that Blizzard made a Mac version, and it runs well enough (it should, since it's also a mobile game), but after 3 years it still doesn't support retina monitors. The Windows version does, of course. It's built on Unity, so I don't know what the problem is.


Blizzard has always been pretty good about cross platform (Windows/Mac) support, all the way back to Starcraft 1 and Warcraft.


I've got oddly fond memories of being 13 (?) years old with an eMac that was well below the minimum spec for running WoW and spending WEEKS scouring the net trying to find all sorts of tweaks etc to make it run. Eventually got it to launch and not crash, spent my first year in WoW playing at about 10FPS and avoiding cities due to the lag.

Ah the memories!


Blizzard is the only large gaming company that I can think of that never stopped releasing Mac games.


Well, until Overwatch...


Not a mac user, but I've been amazedhow well WoW ran 1-2 years ago on a MBP.


At this point, after having been a gamer (though I've never really been fanatical about it) ever since childhood in the 1980s... I just don't care if my Mac plays big-budget AAA games at this point.

Like most software professionals, I work a lot of hours, and my time is limited.

So when it comes to leisure-time, I generally want my games to "just work."

I don't want to see a game on the Mac App Store and then spend a bunch of time Googling forums and stuff to see if the port's any good and if it will actually run decently on my Mac hardware, and then do some more experimentation with settings and everything to actually get it to run acceptably.

A little bit of console hacking can be fun; sometimes I enjoy tinkering with old consoles to get better video output or whatever. But that stuff is 100% optional.

Besides, these days, I'm more into indie-style 2D games than 60-hour immersive "epics" that cost $40mil to make but still have the same basic game mechanics as Daikatana. And a lot of those Unity-based 2D-ish games run pretty well on MacOS.

Plus, I don't know. I think I actually like having my Mac be my "dedicated work machine." It's hard enough to get work done with the Internet beckoning; it'd probably be even harder if all my favorite games were just a click away too. Then again, maybe that's just the Stockholm syndrome talking.


I really enjoyed some of the games for Mac in the 80s. It seemed like the authors didn't much know what they were doing, but they were really creative. Almost like it was the work of clever amateurs instead of actual professionals.

I haven't played games on my computer in a long while. What are some of the good indie-style 2D games now?


    Almost like it was the work of clever amateurs 
    instead of actual professionals.
I liked that era too! Not Mac games in particular; just the era when everything wasn't so same-y. Everything felt almost like outsider art. Created by small teams on small budgets so they were free to experiment!

But, I think we've returned to that level of creativity. Computers are powerful enough that neat games can be coded in high-level languages, so we don't need assembly-language savants to make something that runs well. =)

    I haven't played games on my computer in a long while.
    What are some of the good indie-style 2D games now?
There's been a resurgence of Rogue-likes, many of which use a twin stick control scheme so you can move in one direction and shoot in another. I put a lot of hours into Enter the Gungeon.

There's Cave Story, ten years old at this point, but a loving and amazing (and cute) tribute to the Metroidvania genre. The original was created by a single person, and there have been some graphically updated versions.

Those are two I've personally put a lot of time into. There are tons more on Steam, PSN, Xbox Live, and Nintendo's eShop...

Stardew Valley and Darkest Dungeon are two I have my eyes on to play next. Honestly when I need a new game I usually just google "best indie games of 2015" or "best indie games of 2016" hahaha.

The recommendation engines on Steam and the other online services are actually pretty good too. I would never buy a game just because Steam recommended it, but when they recommended something to me, it's usually worth Googling for reviews and videos of it.


I play a lot and used to do so on a mac book pro.

It used to be a good strategy, especially after upgrading my MBP 2011 with an SSD and more RAM.

Not so much with my last MBP, a mid 2015 model.

I have heard that the thermic paste used by Apple is of very low quality and degrades over time. It seems to be the case for me.. this laptop used to be able to run GTAV on windows, now it crawls even when I try a simple compilation.

I have mostly renounced to play on a mac (whether it is on windows or osx) and I mostly play on a switch now.


This is(was?) indeed an issue, and replacing the paste seems to make the machine feel like new again.


It would be really nice if Apple decided to work with some player like Steam, who also has an interest in gaming on Unix-y systems. I would be really interested in the overlap between Steam's work on Ubuntu and Apple's OS X.

A large part of the problem sounds like Apple's commitment to Metal, but if it drops and and seeks to work with Steam, then they could stand to make a really great experience on their platforms, and perhaps in the living room, too.


It's not about software. It's not about Cider or Bootcamp or which OS you're using. The problem is bigger than that; it's about suitability of form factor.

There's a key difference between gaming and other tasks - like graphic design and software development - that I think the article misses. Work demands portability, for being productive both in the office and while traveling away from it. But barring a few edge cases, gaming doesn't demand portability at all. There's no pressing reason you can't keep your gaming machine in one place, your home. That's the entire philosophy behind the console market. What these systems do demand is physically larger hardware and a slew of peripherals (displays, graphics cards, cooling, speakers, controllers).

Apple has been doing extremely well in the notebook market, but it has steadily lost ground in desktop. When the redesigned Mac Pro finally comes out, that might change. But until then, PCs will continue to dominate the desktop. And I do not see the desktop losing its spot as the best form factor for gaming.


iMac owner chiming in; late 2013 model.

Gaming on OSX for me is hit and miss. Many of the games I have recently played have been advanced Wine wrappers and they work out pretty well. One company, Wargaming, has done pretty good with this model but they don't provide true support as the wrapper itself does introduce a lot of variable. Blizzard was a mainstay for my buying but even though I have not tried Overwatch the fact it was not made available for OSX does not bode well. If one of your longest supporters suddenly drops off, what does that say?

Was there some scare introduced with suggestions they may move off Intel? I never put any real faith into it and to be honest it might be the straw for me if it ever did happen.

Still a lot comes down to Apple really doesn't push their desktops and laptops as being used for games. They will put a "performance" claim on their website showing improvement over past models but not much beyond that. I rely on sites like barefeats to see if performance has ticked up enough to warrant a new purchase; as you can see for me my system is fine for what is there.

the saving grace has always been, just use bootcamp. It works, I don't need a new machine, and it can use the latest video drivers from the manufacturers site.


AFAIK Blizzard's WoW works faster on Windows on the same machine. I'm playing it on my Macbook with dedicated GPU (GT 650M), it's quite terrible, basically I have to play on lowest settings with 720x450 resolution (1440x900 with half resolution and upscaling) to have some playable FPS (10-30, drops to single digit sometimes). And WoW uses Metal API, not some wrapper.


Perhaps Overwatch seemed too graphically demanding for most Macs to be worth porting?


Nah, Overwatch plays on a wide variety of hardware. It's not very graphically demanding, and you definitely don't need a powerful machine for it. Blizzard's stance has always been to get their games on as many machines as possible.


Do not underestimate modern intel iGPUs! Even games like Fallout 4 can be made to run on these as long as you can accept lower graphical fidelity, resolution and 30 fps rather than a smooth 60+ framerate (the latter of which is common on gaming consoles, anyway).

Here's a video of Fallout 4 running on a Macbook Pro : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW3A81BScMU Running on Intel's GPU. Macs with dedicated GPUs with either NVIDIA or AMD hardware will perform much better.

Overwatch has no trouble running on more recent Macs, if you install Windows through bootcamp. Compared to many other AAA games, it's quite light. Hardware is not the issue here.

The biggest problem running games on Mac OS X is the terrible graphic stack. It's simply underperforming. Whether it's the drivers or something else, I can't say. However, from my personal experience having used Mac OS X, Linux and Windows on the same Mac, Windows tends to perform best, Linux a close second, and MacOS a very distant last.

This stays true even for games that were "natively" ported to MacOS, such as Diablo 3. They still run better on Windows. And as for people who play windows games through Wine.. those games run better on linux than on MacOS. And that tends to be a major problem with running games on lower end macs.. for example, Dark Souls can run fine on a Mac Mini if you play it through Wine under Linux, or natively on Windows. But Wine on MacOS will perform significantly worse. Not enough to make the game unplayable, but it's a much less enjoyable experience.

MacOS is just unfit for the purpose. I'm not a 'hardcore gamer' per se, and do not chase the treadmill of latest and greatest with the best possible graphics, but I still enjoy playing games from time to time and I ended up nuking MacOS from the mini I use as a media center connected to the TV. The next time I buy a tiny computer to put next to the tv, it will be an Intel NUC.


> Do not underestimate modern intel iGPUs!

I'm not! It doesn't run very well on my 2013 MacBook Air at lowest settings.


It is both a Hardware and Software problem. Apple's choice of GPU is always lacking behind in performance, and it was only 2017's update of Mac that got them the GPU they deserve for their price range.

OpenGL wasn't updated for years. Making any work to port Games to Mac much more difficult.

With Apple working on its own GPU, and Metal 2 they finally have the groundwork to moving Mac Gaming forward. Of course that is if Apple decide to so.


Anyone have any experience with any cloud computing solutions (like https://www.paperspace.com) with their MacBook? Was thinking about trying it since it's cheap to try out.


If anyone likes RTS games, Dawn of War 2 and 3 are available on OSX(and Linux).

Unfortunately for multiplayer you are limited to playing against other OSX users - so windoze is the superior option again.


The state of Mac gaming is it picks up the scraps from developers generally using multi-platform engines, limping along despite Apple.


I installed Bootcamp on my 2017 MBP and it works very well. I am able to play several Windows games using Steam Box.


Weird seeing an article on Ars Technica ragging on Apple.

but then i see it is from an outside contributor...




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