October 1, 2023

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New Apple tool makes it easy to port PC games to Mac – macOS

New Apple tool makes it easy to port PC games to Mac – macOS

At the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced some very important news for those developers who develop video games.

The company is making it easier and faster to port Windows games to Mac thanks to the new version Game Transfer Toolkit Which can “compile” and run the latest DirectX 12 Windows games on macOS.

The new toolbox is similar to the work Valve has done with Proton and the Steam Deck. It is based on the source code of CrossOver, a Wine-based solution for running Windows games on macOS. Apple’s tool will directly translate Windows games to run on macOS, allowing developers to run an unmodified version of a Windows game on a Mac and see how well it runs before completing a full port.

The Game Porting Toolkit supports DirectX 12 games such as The Medium. Just as Wine and Proton combine to create a software layer to translate Windows API calls to Linux, Apple is doing something similar here to translate these Windows API calls into its own Metal API which is of course related to the Metal framework.

Apple’s new gaming toolkit translates Windows APIs and Intel x86 commands to Apple Silicon instead. APIs related to keyboard, mouse, console input, audio playback, networking, file system, and Direct3D are ported to their corresponding macOS APIs.

The result is that Windows games can run on macOS without any special mods or tweaks. However, Apple says this process is more intended for evaluating games in the moment before porting them to macOS, with nothing stopping macOS users from installing the Game Porting Toolkit and trying to launch PC games.

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However, there may be performance issues and bugs until the developers create their own transport. Reddit users have already played Cyberpunk 2077 on the M1 MacBook Pro, along with Diablo IV on the M1 Max MacBook Pro and Hogwarts Legacy on the M2 Max. Early results look promising, despite some expected performance issues. For example, Cyberpunk 2077 is very slow in one Macbook Pro M1 But on the M2 Max it gets a lot better as you can see from the video below.

Apple’s translation layer is still important. The company has often talked about how high-performance its GPU cores are in its M1 and M2 SoCs, but we haven’t seen it in action since there are only a few “big” games for macOS. Porting Windows games to Mac has not been easy for developers. It usually involves a complex process of source code recompilation, custom shader conversion, graphics subsystem re-implementation, audio and input conversion and HDR rendering. Developers can use a cross-platform game engine to reduce all this complexity if they are targeting multiple platforms.

With this move, Apple has a tool to let developers understand how much work is required to port, in order to fix bugs and improve their games on macOS. It also has a new Metal Shader Converter to automatically convert existing GPU shaders to Metal. These two tools greatly reduce the time and work required to transfer games from Windows to Mac

If Apple continues to work on the translation layer, one day it may be a good idea for end users to run Windows games on macOS just like on Steam Deck.

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