Mac-based gaming has seemingly been plagued by misfortune for decades. It's as if it's locked in a self-defeatist cycle of developers not wanting to work on the platform due to a lack of audience and toolkits, and Apple not reaching out to developers due to a perceived lack of interest from them.
Sure, Apple has its Apple Arcade service, and yes, Steam is available on macOS - but its library of games is severely limited compared to Windows PCs and laptops. In recent years, however, a few shining rays of hope have been glimpsed through the clouds.
For a start, Apple’s now making its own silicon, and there's no doubt that its M1 and M2 chipsets rival even the best that Intel and AMD have to offer. Coupled with that, its new flagship OS, macOS 13 Ventura, features a powerful gaming weapon called MetalFX Upscaling. When it comes to its gaming library, meanwhile, Eve Online has been developing for Mac devices for years, while No Man’s Sky runs beautifully on the best MacBooks and Macs.
And then there's Resident Evil Village. I was as surprised as anyone when Apple revealed at WWDC 2022 that it was partnering with Capcom to bring the game to Mac devices, but it duly launched on the platform in late October.
The question now is how well it runs - and what its arrival means for Mac gaming in general?
How well does Resident Evil Village run on Mac?
In short: extremely well. Remember when I mentioned that Apple had an issue of not providing devs with toolkits that could make development so much easier? Well, it seems the tech giant has finally learned its lesson with the introduction of the application programming interface (API) toolkit Metal 3, and especially MetalFX Upscaling, which is the equivalent of Nvidia DLSS.
There’s plenty that goes into this toolkit, but suffice to say that the API is the key to why Resident Evil Village runs so well. Our sister site Tom’s Guide is one of several that tested out the game, using a 16-inch MacBook Pro rocking an M1 chip. It found that the framerate jumps from low 100s when running normally to over 200 FPS with MetalFX Upscaling enabled.
Upscaling and HDR mode are just as impressive, with one reviewer from Digital Trends stating that “there’s no better game to play in HDR than Resident Evil Village.” This is especially significant given that few of the best PC monitors are true HDR monitors, meaning that a MacBook could be one of the best ways for gamers to experience that graphical upgrade.
What does this mean for Mac gaming?
Resident Evil Village is just one game, but its arrival on Mac says a lot about how gaming on the platform could develop.
No Man’s Sky was already an impressive showcase, but Resident Evil Village truly shows what MacBooks and other Mac devices are capable of when both Apple and developers work together and use a toolkit made specifically for game development. The game looks downright gorgeous, especially in its shadow and lighting effects, and runs well with or without MetalFX Upscaling enabled.
If future games really push Metal 3 to its limits, we could be set for even more incredible experiences. At the very least, it’s clear that Apple devices can handle graphically intensive games with no issue at all, thanks to its excellent API. And, combined with the MacBook Pro’s 120Hz refresh rate, high-resolution screen, and HDR mode, you truly have a dedicated gaming machine.
What this means for PC gaming as a whole
If Mac gaming really takes off, it would be a big deal. Apple is now challenging industry mainstays with its M1 and M2 silicon, and its newly implemented MetalFX Upscaling toolkit is already competitive with AMD’s FSR or Nvidia’s DLSS.
However, the success of Mac gaming depends on whether Apple continues to invest in developers and its own API. It may be taking steps in the right direction, but the number of top-tier games that work on macOS is still paltry, to say the least. What's more, its only major competitor, Windows, has been cultivating its hold on the gaming industry for literal decades. Apple has a long way to go yet.
It's early days, then, but there's reason for Mac fans to be hopeful. With the hardware side of things already in a great place and with the software beginning to follow, Apple could yet become a force in the gaming industry - and that can only be a good thing for gaming in general.
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Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.