Apple is making a strategic move to capture a larger share of the gaming industry, which is worth half a trillion dollars. The tech giant plans to leverage its powerful new chips and developer tools to attract gamers to the Mac platform.
Gaming on mac: A historical perspective
Apple’s venture into gaming is not new, as games have been an integral part of the company’s history, particularly on its home computers. However, in recent times, the Mac has taken a backseat in the gaming industry. According to Steam, the leading PC games marketplace, a mere 1.5 percent of gamers use MacOS, with Windows dominating at 96.5 percent, leaving Linux with the remaining 2 percent.
Addressing this gaming disparity is crucial for Apple for two significant reasons. Firstly, video games hold immense commercial and cultural importance, influencing consumers’ hardware choices. Secondly, while Apple has achieved significant success in the creative professional market, the company is eager to expand its reach to a broader mainstream audience. Video games are seen as an essential component of achieving this goal.
Apple’s gaming push with Apple silicon
Since the introduction of its first Apple Silicon chip, the M1, gaming has played a more prominent role in Apple’s sales strategy. All currently available Macs use Apple Silicon, with the M2 and M3 powering everything from the MacBook Air to the desktop Mac Pro.
Doug Brooks, Apple Mac marketing manager, highlights that all these new Macs are ready to deliver outstanding gaming experiences right out of the box. The M3 chip, in particular, offers features that benefit both professional modeling and graphics production, making it an excellent fit for gaming. These features include hardware ray tracing for realistic lighting, mesh shading for generating geometry, and dynamic caching to allocate resources efficiently.
Apple’s hardware capabilities are undeniable. High-end MacBooks and the latest MacBook Pro models can run recent games at high resolutions and over 100 frames per second, outperforming some Windows counterparts. Even the new iMac, with its entry-level M3 chip and comparatively lower RAM, can confidently handle games like Lies of P, performing on par with current game consoles.
Apple arcade: A step in the right direction
Apple has invested significantly in Apple Arcade, a subscription service offering ad-free, microtransaction-free games across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac. While it includes popular titles like Sonic the Hedgehog, it falls short of blockbuster releases that typically debut on Windows PC and consoles before potentially being ported to Mac later.
Leland Martin, Apple software marketing manager, believes that Apple’s efforts are beginning to change this narrative. Apple provides a game porting toolkit that simplifies the process of bringing games from Windows to Mac. With Apple Silicon becoming standard, hardware compatibility issues are reduced. Additionally, games developed for Mac will work seamlessly across Mac and iPhone, a significant advantage.
Major game studios on board
Some major game studios, such as Capcom, Ubisoft, and Kojima Productions, have started launching games on the App Store for both Mac and iPhone. However, these releases often occur after the games have already been available on other platforms. Nevertheless, some big titles set for 2023 have Mac-compatible versions on Steam, further expanding gaming options for Mac users.
The question of how Apple plans to monetize its growing presence in the gaming industry is intriguing. Unlike Windows, Mac is an open software ecosystem, allowing users to install games from various sources. Steam reigns supreme in this regard, with estimated 2021 revenues exceeding $15 billion. Microsoft, despite owning the operating system that most games run on, does not receive a cut from Steam’s earnings.
Microsoft has diversified its gaming operations on PC by running its app store on Windows, selling games and offering a subscription service called PC Game Pass. This approach allows users to access a library of games for a monthly fee.
Apple, on the other hand, does not develop its games. While it may attract some developers to the App Store with cross-purchase functionality for iPhones, gamers are likely to continue using Steam, as it works seamlessly on both Mac and Windows. Apple’s approach is flexible, with titles appearing on both Steam and the Mac App Store, depending on developers’ preferences.
Leland Martin emphasizes that this is just the beginning, and Apple is still in the early stages of expanding its gaming presence. With numerous partners and momentum building around major games on Apple platforms, the company is poised for continued growth in the gaming sector.