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Apple’s macOS Sonoma has a game-changing feature — literally

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) was chock-full of new announcements, and it’s fair to say that between the Vision Pro headset and all of Apple’s new Macs, macOS was far from the biggest new reveal. Yet, there was one new macOS feature that could be absolutely game-changing.

That’s because right now, Mac gaming is in a pretty bad way. Gamers don’t buy Macs because there aren’t enough good games, and developers don’t port their games to the Mac because there aren’t enough people to play them. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation caught in a death spiral.

A person gaming with a controller on an Apple MacBook laptop.

But with macOS Sonoma, Apple might have a shot at fixing that once and for all. That’s because the new version of the Mac operating system does something incredibly important: It makes it far, far easier for developers to bring their games to the Mac.

At the moment, that whole process can take months or even years. Developers have to convert their code, then make concessions and considerations for Mac hardware and software, and that’s if they even think it’s worth it in the first place. It’s slow, expensive, and tiresome.

But macOS Sonoma will, apparently, make all that easier. Apple says there’s now a much quicker evaluation process to see how well games will work on macOS, and that this will take days instead of months. That alone is huge, because developers don’t need to waste anywhere near as much of their precious time before they even know how well their product will work on the Mac.

False dawns

Gaming on Apple's Macs being presented at WWDC 2023.

Will this be a new dawn for Mac gaming? I’m skeptical, but perhaps that’s just because I’ve been burned before. A few years ago, I thought Apple Arcade would make gaming on the Mac fun, but that turned out to be a dud. Last year’s WWDC introduced Resident Evil Village and No Man’s Sky on the Mac, and I thought that meant more major developers would get on board, but that didn’t happen.

But this time? I genuinely think there’s a chance. It’s all very well convincing one or two big-name developers to get going on the Mac, but that means nothing if the process is just as onerous as ever for developers large and small. Apple’s moves at WWDC 2023 could put an end to that for good.

Full of promise

Hideo Kojima talking about Mac gaming at WWDC 2023.

Of course, the proof is in the pudding. Apple can promise improvements all it wants, but if they’re not the changes that developers want to see, it’ll all be for naught.

I have hope, though, because Apple has a pretty good relationship with developers and tends to be fairly responsive to their needs (App Store charges perhaps notwithstanding). Apple didn’t decide to make these changes overnight — no, it will have spent many months conferring with game devs to find out what their main hurdles are when it comes to porting Mac games.

It’s still early days, but if we start to see increasing numbers of popular games make the switch to the Mac, we’ll know Apple’s approach is working. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled — and my controller primed to go.

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