Apple has everything it needs to dominate gaming — except ga…

Apple is finally making its stride in gaming. The company announced the new M3 family of chips during its “Scary Fast” event today, and they pack a redesigned GPU that adds some must-have features for gaming in 2023. There’s just one problem – you can’t play a ton of games on the Mac.

There are some great games available on the Mac – just check out our list of the best Mac games – but the big hurdle for Apple has always been widespread game support. With the release of the M3, along with some recent developments in porting games from Windows to Mac, Apple has a chance to make its gaming ambitions a reality. But all these efforts won’t matter until we see games released on platforms like PC and consoles as well.

A game-changing GPU

Apple's M3 chip family.

Let’s talk about what makes the M3 special for gaming. It sports a new GPU architecture that has three key features: hardware-accelerated ray tracing, mesh shaders, and a new feature called dynamic caching.

Ray tracing is nothing new to gaming. It was a niche feature when Nvidia introduced the world to real-time ray tracing in 2018, but ray tracing has since become a staple of AAA game releases. It’s hard to find a major AAA release in the last few years that doesn’t use ray tracing in some capacity. And some games, like cyberpunk 2077, Support full path tracing.

Mesh shading is a bit new, at least as far as it appears in games. This feature has been around for a few years, enabled through DirectX 12 and dedicated GPU hardware on PCs. The first game that requires mesh shading, alan wake 2, was just released. Apple building support for this into the M3 is forward-looking, setting the stage for success with future game releases.

Comparison between the highest and lowest graphics presets in Alan Wake 2.
Jacob Roach/

Finally, there’s dynamic caching, which is an “industry first” according to Apple’s press release. It’s hard to figure out what dynamic caching is actually doing, but it seems to be an intelligent way of scheduling work on the GPU. Most graphics cards can handle lots of tasks in parallel, but those tasks don’t always use the full resources available to the GPU. The feature is said to improve performance by dynamically allocating resources to increase the average utilization of the GPU.

Apple has made a big deal about dynamic caching, but we’ll have to see what it’s actually doing once the M3 devices become available. However, it’s clear that the technology is already doing something. We got an early look at games like mist And P’s lie Running above 60 frames per second (fps) on an M3 MacBook Pro. If that applies to all games, Apple has some capable hardware.

rising tide

Hideo Kojima talking about Mac gaming at WWDC 2023.

The M3 is a reward for the foundation Apple has been building for nearly a year. like with games resident Evil 4 After the arrival of the iPhone and gaming veteran Hideo Kojima’s appearance at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) earlier this year, it’s no secret that Apple is making a push into gaming. But more than flashy releases, Apple is building a foundation of technology that will enable games to run on the Mac.

A lot of it centers on the game porting toolkit. Released without much fanfare at WWDC this year, this software tool basically creates a Windows emulation environment on a Mac. This is something that third parties have been trying to break for years. Apple claimed that developers could see how their game would run on Apple silicon in just a few minutes, rather than spending weeks on development work considering porting to the Mac.

It’s already done a lot of work. i tried to get hello master chief collection Running on a MacBook with it, the popular crossover app has been able to turn on support for DirectX 12 games since release. We haven’t seen the full payoff of the game porting toolkit yet, and I suspect it will be helpful in larger Mac support in the future.

Moreover, Apple has already developed MetalFX. As we’ve seen over the past year, upscaling tools like Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) are essential to running demanding games on most rigs. Apple has its own take on this with MetalFX, it looked surprisingly good when we demoed it Resident Evil Village, This is the same technology that allows resident Evil 4 on iPhone; This is a big deal.

MetalFX and the game porting toolkit are now coming from M3, which packs ray tracing, mesh shaders, and dynamic caching. The hardware and ecosystem are all in place – we just need the games.

we need more games

P's Lie running on a MacBook Pro.

The only problem with Mac gaming now is game support. This was certainly a problem in the past, but it was a problem in addition to the lack of dedicated hardware and software. We need to see more games with native Mac versions, and I’m sure we will. But this will not happen immediately.

If you look at any year in gaming, most releases won’t see a native Mac port. There are exceptions like Civilization VI And Resident Evil Village, With indie darlings like hollow knight And Hades. But if you look at the total number of games released on PC, only a small portion of them come to Mac in any official capacity.

This isn’t an easy problem for Apple to solve, and we’ve seen the company stumble on this issue over the past year. a good example of this Death Stranding. Apple made a big deal when it brought the game to Mac earlier this year, and it’s great to see such a high-profile release getting an official port. However, this game came out almost four years after it was first released. Similarly, like watching sports Resident Evil Village And resident Evil 4 It’s great to work our way into the Apple ecosystem, but it’ll be even more exciting to play these games when they release for everyone else.

Apple is playing from behind, possibly striking deals with developers to bring games to its platform. However, big gaming incentives will be of no use unless we see new game releases on PC as well as Mac. Currently, any AAA game released on Mac feels like a novelty. For the Mac to become a true gaming destination, game releases need to feel like the norm.

A 24-inch iMac with Civilization VI running on it.
digital trends

It looks like some of that is already in motion. such as title P’s lie And baldur’s gate 3 Released this year on Mac at the same time as Windows, and these are two big games. For Mac gaming to work, Apple needs to take advantage of such releases by working with developers before release to guarantee native Mac versions on release day.

Hopefully, this is already happening. It’s no coincidence that the Resident Evil franchise has featured so heavily in Apple’s gaming initiatives, and there’s a good chance that Apple is developing a relationship with developer Capcom to bring the game to life immediately. Similarly, ports like death stranding It might not seem like much, but they could lay the groundwork for future games.

If Apple keeps this up, Mac gaming could be a great experience in the future. Now we have the hardware to support it, finally – we just need the games.

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