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My last hope for Mac gaming is the iPhone 15 Pro

I’ve been impatiently waiting for the Mac to finally become a great gaming computer for years, and every time I get my hopes up, they seem to be dashed with disappointment. Yet for the first time, it feels like we could be on the brink of genuinely meaningful change — and it’s all thanks to the iPhone.

I watched Apple’s September event and saw the company claim its new A17 Pro chip would turn the iPhone 15 Pro into a miniature console, with big-name titles like Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Death Stranding making the leap to the device. That’s all well and good, I thought, but what about the Mac?

Craig Ferguson introducing Mac Gaming at WWDC.

Well, it turns out Apple’s plans are not just restricted to its iPhones. In a recent interview with IGN, the outlet’s reporter asked Tim Millet, Apple’s VP of Platform Architecture, whether the recently announced games would be coming to the Mac.

Millet’s answer? “The developers are going to work with us to do it.”

That’s hugely encouraging for Mac gamers because it shows Apple is taking a proactive approach. In the past, the company has been much more passive in a kind of “build it and they will come” way. Every year since 2020 — when Apple silicon was introduced and Mac performance went through the roof — we’ve been waiting for games developers to get on board, but that’s never materialized. Now, perhaps, that could change.

We’ve seen this before

How to play Fortnite on Mac
Dan Baker / Digital Trends

IGN’s interviewer also spoke to Jeremy Sandmel, Apple’s Senior Director of GPU Software. According to Sandmel, “Capcom brought out Resident Evil Village last year for Mac and now for the phone this year. And one of the things that fundamentally enabled that is this unification of the architecture of Apple silicon and the iPhone silicon and the iPad silicon.”

They continued: “And so you can see that they’re able to do exactly what you just suggested, which is bring a game to iPhone and Mac that is the same game. It’s the same rendering, it’s the same rendering quality and it’s the same game they had on a gaming PC and a console.” Sandmel goes on to call this “one big unified platform, a graphics and gaming platform.”

Game mode for macOS Sonoma.

In my mind, this could either be highly encouraging or cause for concern, and it really depends on how capable Apple’s hardware is and how committed the company is to letting developers enact their visions without restrictions.

You see, we’ve witnessed this “unified platform” approach before: it’s called Apple Arcade. There, games work on everything from the smallest iPhone to the beefiest Mac Pro, but that creates a problem. Everything has to be able to run on the lowest common denominator, which means on the Mac you get blurry graphics and large interfaces designed for touch. The unified approach drags the Mac down.

Has Apple learned from that mistake? I certainly hope so. Maybe as iPhone chips get more powerful, the restrictions that Mac users have to put up with will diminish. No PC gamer is going to make the switch to the Mac if the games on offer feel like mobile ports.

Crying out for change

How to play Fortnite on Mac
Dan Baker / Digital Trends

In the past, the problem of Mac gaming has always been a kind of chicken-and-egg conundrum. Developers haven’t brought their games to the Mac because the potential audience is much smaller than on Windows PCs, but gamers don’t buy Macs because there aren’t enough AAA games to enjoy. Each problem feeds the other, with scores of fantastic names absent from every list of the best Mac games.

If Apple is actively working with developers — big-name ones at that — to get their games onto Apple’s desktops and laptops, that could be a strong incentive for gamers to give the Mac a try. That, in turn, could spur more developers to consider launching their products on Apple’s platform.

The next couple of years are going to be crucial. Apple is making all the right noises, working with prominent studios like Capcom to make the Mac a more attractive gaming destination. Now it needs to widen its net and bring as many exciting games to its devices as possible.

With Apple silicon ramping up and getting more powerful every year, the hardware performance is there. That means software is the missing piece of the puzzle. If Apple can solve that, it might finally transform the Mac into the gaming platform I’ve wanted it to be for years.

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