Apple is not the first name that comes to mind when people think of gaming on laptops. In fact, it's usually the last. But the Cupertino-based giant wants to change that if WWDC 2022 is any indication.
Coming this fall, macOS Ventura is the latest operating system from Apple. It is debuting alongside a brand new MacBook Air 2022 and 13-inch MacBook Pro 2022. Both laptops will run on the newly revealed Apple M2 chip. But while these products and macOS overall might steal headlines, the use of Metal 3 — Apple’s new application programming interface (API) for game developers — is noteworthy.
That’s because, when combined with the new silicon, proper gaming PC-level AAA gaming is possible on macOS. Metal 3 enables this by offering upscaling tools to render impressive graphics without taking a huge hit on performance.
“MetalFX Upscaling enables developers to quickly render complex scenes by using less compute-intensive frames, and then apply resolution scaling and temporal anti-aliasing. The result is accelerated performance that provides gamers with a more responsive feel and graphics that look stunning,” Apple explained. That upscaling tech could be seen as Cupertino’s take on Nvidia DLSS, which uses AI to render graphically rich games without seeing a GPU meltdown into a silicon puddle.
So with Metal 3, the M2 chip, macOS Ventura, and the new MacBooks, gaming on Macs should be an enticing combination for developers. Capcom and Hello Games agree, because later this year Resident Evil Village and No Man’s Sky are coming to macOS.
Those two would be significant departures from the titles on our best Mac games list, which are good but hardly the most eye-catching of gaming experiences. So we could finally be looking at a time when Apple starts shrugging off the reputation that Macs are no good for gaming.
But there's a catch here: Resident Evil Village was released over a year ago and No Man’s Sky is old. So while these are AAA games, they are not new AAA games. This makes some sense, as the developers are likely trying to rework existing assets to function on a new platform rather than risking a new game on an unfamiliar platform. And the idea of running Resident Evil Village on a thin-and-light MacBook Air is pretty compelling.
Yet for Macs to be seen as proper gaming machines, Apple will likely need to court more developers over to macOS and get access to some of the best PC games.
However, we’ve seen how well games can run on the Valve Steam Deck with some clever engineering, software and optimization work. So we’d not be surprised if Apple did the same; after all, its M1 chips offered blazing performance without compromising on impressive efficiency in 2020, meaning there's scope for Apple to apply that magic to gaming.