One of the new features in macOS Sonoma is Game Mode, which Apple claims improves gaming performance on Apple Silicon Macs. But there’s something else Apple has been doing to turn the Mac into a gaming platform, and that includes allowing developers to easily port Windows games to the Mac with a new Game Porting Tool. Read on as we detail how Game Mode and Game Porting Tool work.
Running Windows games on macOS is not exactly a new thing. There are platforms like Wine and Crossover that translate APIs from Microsoft’s operating system so that Mac computers can run Windows software. With macOS Sonoma, Apple is implementing similar solutions directly into the system, so it will be even easier for developers to bring their PC games to the Mac.
The company has released a new Game Porting Tool, which will help developers run their games on the Mac with little or no effort. Interestingly, Apple’s Game Porting Tool is based on Wine, a popular open-source platform that translates Windows software to Unix environments (such as macOS and Linux).
But Apple is doing more than just making these games run on macOS. As explained by the company, Game Porting Tool is also able to translate DirectX 12 into Metal 3. For those unfamiliar, DirectX is an API available on Windows and Xbox consoles that handles graphics rendering and game sounds, similar to Apple’s Metal API.
Building a native macOS game
Some games can run fine without a single change in the code. Apple used The Medium as an example. However, the company notes that the native macOS version of the game runs even better with almost double the frame rate on the same hardware. And that’s why Apple encourages developers to do more than just run translated versions of their Windows games.
After using Game Porting Tool to test a Windows game on macOS, developers can use new tools to convert DirectX graphics to Metal. As a result, the game can run natively with much better performance. The macOS Sonoma SDK also helps developers take advantage of other native system features, such as support for game controllers, Spatial Audio, and HDR video.
In addition to the Game Porting Tool, developers can take advantage of Game Mode, which is built into macOS Sonoma. According to Apple, when Game Mode is active, “the system prioritizes the gaming experience for the foregrounded game.”
Bluetooth latency for AirPods is dramatically reduced, the Bluetooth sampling rate for PlavStation and Xbox controllers is doubled, and the game receives higher GPU and CPU priority – leading to more stable and sustained frame rates. All this happens automatically for macOS apps with a game entitlement.
The Mac has never been known for being a gaming platform, but Apple wants to change that. Now with Apple Silicon chips, Macs have more power than ever. Apple is trying to show developers that their games are worth bringing to macOS. And of course, this will end up adding great value to the platform.
macOS Sonoma is currently available as a beta for developers. A public beta will be released next month, while the official release is expected this fall. More details about the beta can be found on the Apple Developer website.
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