You can now play PC games on your MacBook — Apple's Game Porting Toolkit blew me away

MacBook Pro 16-inch (M2 Max, 2023) review: The baddest MacBook in the land
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Remember when I said Apple doesn’t care about MacBook gaming? Turns out someone in Cupertino may have read that and took it personally, because this Game Porting Toolkit is a game changer.

And I'm not even talking about all the development tools. While the Cupertino cronies may be busy touting all the ways they've simplified porting PC games to Mac, there is a feature in here that could be a tectonic shift. Let me explain.

What is the Game Porting Toolkit?

Apple Game Porting Toolkit

(Image credit: Apple)

Introduced as part of the Game Mode announcement at WWDC, this toolkit provides an emulation environment that allows you to run an unmodified Windows game. With this, developers can quickly see the performance potential of their game when running on a Mac.

This helps developers evaluate their games a lot faster while simplifying the conversion process and shortening the development time quite significantly. One killer feature is the Metal shader converter, which can automatically convert all existing shaders from Direct X 12 to Metal. On top of that, there are a slew of new tools and resources (such as a new Metal debugger) to help make the porting process less painful.

Bigger than just a development tool

Apple Game Porting Toolkit

(Image credit: Apple)

But while all of this is cool on paper, it’s the emulation part that has shocked me. It can emulate high fidelity, graphically intense PC games without any porting work needed.

Apple has essentially built a Windows emulator and it supports Direct X 12 too. Not only that, but it does a pretty damn good job of it too. For example, Cyberpunk 2077 runs oh so smoothly at high and ultra settings on an M2 Max machine.

And these results have been consistent across a lot of the latest AAA releases. Of course, there are things developers can do to sharpen up performance, but this tool in and of itself is huge.

It’s still early days

Apple has poured a lot of money, time and resources into making this emulation environment work, and the results are mostly good — give or take some frame rate and resolution issues here and there.

After years of saying the company doesn’t care about MacBook gaming, I may be finally getting my wish. But while it’s a step in the right direction, it is still just a step. At the moment, it’s now up to the developers to take advantage of this. 

But what Apple has made here could be a way to make MacBook gaming a thing without a single line of additional code. If more work is put into this emulation, we could see a future where PC games and Mac games are no longer separate entities. 

Imagine the announcement at WWDC next year. Game Mode goes one step further with full compatibility with PC games. I’d probably celebrate in the same explosive manner as I did when Nottingham Forest beat Arsenal to stay in the Premier League.

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.