You Can Play Windows Games on Apple Silicon Right Now

You Can Play Windows Games on Apple Silicon Right Now

People buy a Mac for video editing. People buy a Mac for coding. No one buys a Mac for gaming. You can game on a Mac, of course: There are Mac games available on both Steam and the App Store, and on Intel Macs, you can emulate Windows to run PC games (albeit with many compromises).

But Apple silicon has trouble with that last point, limiting its gaming abilities. Lucky for all of us macOS gamers, Apple wants that to change.

Apple’s Game Porting Toolkit is a game changer

During its WWDC event last week, Apple announced a new “Game Porting Toolkit” for macOS, designed for game developers to port their existing PC games to Apple silicon. As it turns out, however, that toolkit is also the perfect early entry point for consumers to play PC games on their M1 or M2 machines.

Dave Lee of Dave2D dived into the toolkit and tested it on a handful of different Apple silicon Macs. The most impressive machines were, as expected, the higher-end Macs, like the M1 Ultra Mac Studio and the 14-inch M2 Max MacBook Pro. Both were able to run Elden Ring at 60 fps. Lee got Cyberpunk 2077 to run at 40 fps on the MacBook Pro, and 71 fps on the Mac Studio. Things weren’t as impressive with the lower-end machines: An M2 MacBook Air hit 26 fps with Elden Ring, while the M1 MacBook Air ran at 18 fps. But, hey: It’s still Elden Ring on a MacBook Air.

But the raw numbers tell only half the story. This toolkit isn’t a hands-off utility to help you play PC games on your Mac; rather, it’s designed to show developers how well a game runs on Apple silicon as-is, and help them work from there to optimise the game for the Mac. When you have this up and running, what you’re seeing is a game written for Windows being translated through multiple layers to run on a Mac it was never designed for.

With any luck, more developers will take advantage of this toolkit to optimise their PC games for Mac. So while today, you need to jump through some hoops to run Elden Ring poorly on your MacBook Air, perhaps in the future you’ll be able to download it from Steam and run it well, just as if you had a PC to play it on.

Which games can you run using the Game Porting Toolkit?

Unfortunately, not all your PC games are going to run on your Mac at this time. According to AppleGamingWiki’s Game Porting Toolkit guide, there are currently 36 PC titles that run using the toolkit. That list includes some heavy hitters, like Elden Ring, Hogwarts Legacy, and Grand Theft Auto V. But the list doesn’t seem complete: Linus Tech Tips showed Hollow Knight working on their setup, but it doesn’t show up on the AppleGamingWiki list. It’s likely more games will pop up here, especially as more developers enter the fray.

The Mac generally isn’t a great gaming machine, but these are the Apple machines are already producing promising results via the Game Porting Toolkit:

  • M1 Ultra Mac Studio
  • 14-inch M2 Max MacBook Pro
  • M2 MacBook Air

How to run Windows games natively on your Apple silicon Mac

Whether you have an M1 or M2 Mac, you can give this new toolkit a try today. It isn’t necessarily the most straightforward process, however: To start, you need to be running macOS Sonoma, which is currently in beta. Installing any beta OS on a machine you use every day is risky, since bugs or other glitches could impact your ability to use the device, and could result in data loss. If you do give this a shot, make sure to backup your Mac ahead of time.

You can enroll your Mac in the Sonoma beta here. Once you have macOS Sonoma up and running, you’ll need to download the game porting toolkit from Apple’s developer site. You’ll also need to go to Apple’s developer website here, and search for “Command Line Tools for Xcode 15 beta,” then install it. If you have an older copy of Xcode on your Mac, you’ll need to delete it.

From here, you can follow the detailed guide from AppleGamingWiki we mentioned earlier, which runs through the entire setup process. Let us know which games you get working on your Mac!

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