One year later, Apple still doesn’t give a damn about MacBook gaming

Resident Evil Village Mac
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple still does not care about gaming on the Mac, and that is a huge disappointment — not just to you, but your wallet that just spent a lot of money on a system that’s only going to use about 50% of its power potential.

You may remember that last year, I wrote a piece about how Apple really should give a damn about gaming — the motivation behind it being that if the company just invested in making the Mac platform a fruitful one to bring the best of PC gaming to natively, that it would infinitely increase the value of that MacBook you just bought.

The piece exploded on Reddit (shout-out) with a lot of people sharing the same thoughts as me. Why should we have to buy a second computer (or a console) for gaming when it's clear that the Mac should be able to do everything? 

It’s a very fair question because you ideally want your shiny, expensive new laptop to be able to do everything — especially when you see that on the prosumer productivity side of things, some of Apple’s SOCs are capable of hanging with the likes of RTX 3080 systems. But right now, that’s not possible, and yet the company continues to drag its feet, so let’s take a closer look.

What has happened over the past 12 months?

Precisely one big thing has happened. Resident Evil Village has come over to the Mac, running natively on Apple silicon. It’s a positive step that I got particularly excited for while in Barcelona.

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It’s a pretty good showcase of what exactly is possible using the company’s proprietary MetalFX upscaling — rivaling the likes of PC’s DLSS and AMD FSR in terms of rendering the game at a lower resolution and upscaling it, to optimize graphics performance and boost frame rate.

The fact it was given such a prominent spot at this year’s WWDC gave me a glimmer of hope that someone somewhere within Apple HQ was starting to lead the charge on providing a big gaming selling point to the company’s Mac hardware.

And then, silence. The launch has come and gone, and we’ve heard nothing more than this one-off game announcement. It’s become clear this was just an attempt to woo developers by showcasing Capcom taking a stab at the platform, but that’s not enough.

What does this mean?

Simple, it means that the decision on what laptop to buy as a creative pro or otherwise becomes a lot trickier. As I said above, you want your laptop to do everything — you’re dropping a lot of money on it after all. 

“Because I can edit/process/export video quickly on Final Cut Pro” is not a valid enough reason on its own. It needs to be a companion, capable of entertaining you as well as helping you get stuff done. For those who want to sit back and play games after a hard day of recording/mixing on Logic Pro and play games, a MacBook Pro becomes an increasingly difficult sell.

Asus ROG Flow X16

(Image credit: Future)

On top of that laptop, you’ll need to buy something that plays all the games you want, and by that point, why are you bothering paying for the Mac? There is a capable suite of creative software options available for Windows that means you could have one machine that does both things well — like the Asus ROG Flow X16.

Oh and no, game streaming is not the answer. I get it’s a thing and you can play games through it on the Mac, but that’s another minefield of latency issues and performance troubles. 

Time to think different

Mac gaming

(Image credit: Future)

The Mac gaming space is different to iOS — you can’t just slap an app store on your device and expect AAA developers to come running. You need to do more than that, which would be the suggestions that I put into an easy to-do list at the end of my last piece, so let’s check off what you’ve done:

  1. Expand Apple Arcade NOT DONE: Apple Arcade is already an amazing platform for showcasing the best of iOS (and some casual Mac games). I would willingly pay more for a pricier tier that involves some more traditional big budget titles.
  2. Encourage Mac game development IN PROGRESS: I'll give Apple credit for inviting Capcom to WWDC in a mission to encourage more Mac game development. It's a step in the right direction, but only one step that needs to be followed by a helluva lot more enticing.
  3. Snap up some exclusives NOT DONE: By this point, given the company's market cap, Apple could go all Thanos, click its finger and acquire Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo if it wanted to. Of course, that would be a daft business decision, but what isn’t would be to strategically pay for some AAA game ports or even cough up for some exclusives.

Because for all the love we have for MacBooks (and for how much I adore my M1 MacBook Pro for getting stuff done), it’s only good for half of many-a-human being’s requirements to work by day and play by night. For the other half, I’ve had to pay for a Steam Deck

This is no bash on the Deck, but the power potential to play good games is right there in my MacBook, Apple. Unlock it and unlock the true value of your systems, rather than locking it away.

Because Apple itself has claimed to care about gaming in interviews surrounding this new wave of Apple Silicon Macs. It's a little late now, but it's time for the company to back up what it says with actions.

Jason England
Content Editor

Jason brought a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag, and he is now the Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.