Metal 3 & The Future of Mac Gaming [WWDC 2023]

(Cupertino, CA, 2023-06-11, by Jake Bourke) I am a Mac gamer, which is considered an oxymoron by many. After Apple discontinued 32-bit app compatibility with the release of macOS Catalina in 2019, many video games that were once playable for Mac no longer worked on newer macOS versions, shrinking the already small-sized pool of available software. The update sliced my library in half, and with Apple’s switch to custom ARM-based processors, porting Windows games that still rely on x86 architecture initially seemed like a hurdle few developers wanted to overcome.

However, amid the many announcements at Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference, Senior Director of GPU Software Jeremy Sandmel revealed several gaming features coming to macOS.

image of death stranding director

And while it was exciting to see Hideo Kojima announce the critically acclaimed Death Stranding: Director’s Cut is coming to Mac in the wake of similarly massive and well-loved titles such as No Man’s Sky and Resident Evil Village, the announcement that had me the most optimistic was the addition of a brand new game porting toolkit to Apple’s Metal 3 API, which promises to make porting games from other platforms to Mac a far smoother experience, potentially streamlining the porting process by months.

If one were to take this announcement at face value, it could mean Apple has opened the floodgates for thousands of previously Windows-exclusive games to be brought to the Mac ecosystem, and as Apple showcased several upcoming titles such as Stray, Disney Dreamlight Valley, and Fort Solis, it appears developers are already taking advantage of Metal 3’s new capabilities. Metal 3 could be for Mac what Proton currently is for Linux.

Furthermore, the toolkit’s source code has been uploaded on Apple’s official Github under an open-source license, ensuring accessibility to all developers and publishers, and with its emulation environment built upon Wine and CrossOver (two programs that can run Windows programs on Mac), it’s doubtful that it will be long before we see an influx of graphically intensive games make their way to Mac computers, eliminating the chronic software drought that contributed to Mac gaming becoming so infamous. Metal 3’s game porting kit is a dream for Mac gamers that seemed unreachable, but the future looks brighter than ever.