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Apple has a plan to fix Mac gaming — but will it work?

If you’re a gamer, there’s one truth that appears to be self-evident: Macs are not good gaming machines. A new interview, however, suggests Apple wants to turn that received wisdom on its head.

When TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino sat down with Apple’s vice president of Platform Architecture and Hardware Technologies Tim Millet and the company’s VP of Worldwide Product Marketing Bob Borchers, he asked what Apple was doing to improve the situation for Mac gamers. Their answers shed plenty of light on the ways Apple sees the future of gaming on its platforms.

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For one thing, Millet said Apple understands the challenge it faces in convincing gamers to switch to its systems: “Gamers are a serious bunch. And I don’t think we’re going to fool anybody by saying that overnight we’re going to make Mac a great gaming platform. We’re going to take a long view on this.”

To do that, Millet explained that Apple is trying to make it as simple as possible for developers to port their games onto macOS by improving its own Metal graphical API. If developers have a ready-made API that supports everything modern gaming needs, porting games to the Mac will seem more attractive. That’s the hope anyway, but big-name games like Resident Evil Village show it can be done.

As Millet put it, “My team spends a lot of time thinking about how to make sure that we’re staying on that API curve to make sure that we’re giving Metal what it needs to be a modern gaming API. We know this will take some time. But we’re not at all confused about the opportunity; we see it. And we’re going to make sure we show up.”

Breaking the cycle

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But while the software is one side of the equation, there’s hardware to consider too. Apple silicon has made gaming a much more viable prospect than the Intel chips inside previous Macs ever did, but there’s another aspect to consider, according to Millet.

“Game developers have never seen 96 gigabytes of graphics memory available to them now, on the M2 Max. I think they’re trying to get their heads around it because the possibilities are unusual.” That is an “interesting opportunity” for developers he says, and leaves a lot of room to push the boundaries going forward. But it could be one reason that AAA games have taken their time getting to the Mac, even with Metal and Apple silicon coming into play.

Right now, Mac gaming suffers from a vicious cycle that seems hard to break. Gamers are reluctant to switch because many big-name titles don’t work on Macs. Developers are held back because the number of Mac gamers is small. Each problem feeds the other.

If Millet and Borchers are right and Apple is able to convince more developers to bring their work to the Mac, the best Mac games could get some fresh company from heavyweight titles. Mac gamers will be hoping that doesn’t end up being misplaced optimism.

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