Apple has announced a new tool to translate games coded for Windows onto MacOS. It sounds a lot like Proton, Valve's compatibility layer for the Steam Deck, or more generally Wine for Linux, and it's already been used to run Diablo 4 and Cyberpunk 2077 on Apple's in-house silicon.
Sure, Cyberpunk ran at 14fps, which isn't particularly playable. But Diablo 4 worked great, and it's all good progress.
A way to port games over to MacOS without actually porting games over to MacOS could be a big development for the macOS gaming scene, or what there is of one. Outside of mobile games and Apple Arcade, gaming has not been much of a focus for Apple. If anything, Apple's recent shift to specialised ARM hardware of its own design in its machines has made gaming even more of a reach on its systems, as few developers have bothered porting their games to Apple's proprietary kit.
The key to Apple's new gaming horizons is its Game Porting Toolkit. This incorporates a compatibility layer similar to Valve's Proton or Wine, but where those translate Windows APIs to Linux-friendly ones, Apple's tool also has to translate code intended for x86-based machines to its own in-house Apple Silicon.
"This year, the new Game Porting Toolkit provides an emulation environment to run your existing, unmodified Windows game, and you can use it to quickly understand the graphics feature usage and performance potential of your game when running a Mac."
The toolkit is intended to be used by developers to cut out parts of the porting process and speed up the release of games on macOS. In the clip, Apple talks about developers porting a DirectX 12 build of The Medium to see how it runs. However, Apple went ahead and made the toolkit available for anyone to download, so naturally people are already jury-rigging it onto their own Macs and whatever games they fancy.
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Reddit user issa6 has already got Cyberpunk 2077 running on an M1-powered MacBook with the toolkit and this Wine wrapper called Whisky. The frame rate isn't much to write home about, at just under 14fps or thereabouts, though a more graphically powerful chip would likely perform quite a bit better.
In fact, user just_reload_it has found plenty of performance in Diablo 4 on an M2 Max. They're looking at around 80fps, which isn't so surprising for the chunky GPU found in that particular expensive Apple Silicon.
Whereas Apple has struggled to get Mac gaming off the ground, this toolkit appears to have empowered Mac owners to do it for themselves. That's what we like to see.