Apple eyes the gaming market with new chips in Mac and iPad

In a recent interview, executives talk about Apple’s Mac gaming hopes, with the new M-series of chips in their desktops, laptops, and iPad

Apple Mac gaming - a Macbook Pro on a mango yellow background, showing the screen and the base. On the screen is a woman with a giant hat from Resident Evil Village.

Apple recently moved away from Intel with its own silicon chips, the M-series, which have supercharged almost all Macs (where’s the upgraded Mac Pro, Apple?), as well as the iPad Pro and Air. This new power has helped streamline the architecture, focusing on battery life and image processing, offering pretty astounding speeds. But, with all this power, where’s Apple’s Mac gaming overhaul?

A recent interview with TechCrunch reveals a lot about how the transfer to Apple silicon isn’t just focused on creators. While Macs aren’t known as the place to play videogames, and for good reason, the tech giant hopes to change that with the latest chips, though it knows it’s a long process.

Apple’s VP of Worldwide Product Marketing, Bob Borchers, says, “with Capcom bringing Resident Evil across, and other titles starting to come along, I think the AAA community is starting to wake up and understand the opportunity, because what we have now, with our portfolio of M-series Macs, is a set of incredibly performant machines and a growing audience of people who have these incredibly performant systems that can all be addressed with a single code base that is developing over time.”

This single code base may be key for developers hoping to crack the Mac market at the same time as mobile gaming, as Borchers says: “we’re adding new APIs in and expanding Metal in Metal 3, etc. And then if you think about the ability to extend that down into iPad, and iPhone as well, I think there’s tremendous opportunity.”

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Apple’s VP of Platform Architecture and Hardware Technologies, Tim Millet, talks about the early days, preparing for the transition: “The story starts many years ago, when we were imagining this transition. Gamers are a serious bunch. And I don’t think we’re going to fool anybody by saying that overnight we’re going to make Mac a great gaming platform. We’re going to take a long view on this.”

Apple was focused on making Mac an easy place to bring games, which helped bring Capcom into the fold. “And so we did very directed work to make sure that the GPU toolbox was there”, Millet said. “We worked hand in hand to make sure that they were going to have all the tools that they needed to accelerate the important APIs that we’re going to deliver to [companies like] Capcom, for example. So that when Capcom approached us, it wasn’t going to be this awkward port for them. It was going to be a very natural ‘Ah, you do support these modern APIs that gamers are needing. This is interesting.’”

Another focus for Apple is to make sure all the Macs in the lineup have enough power to give devs confidence bringing games over. “The other thing we wanted to do, and I think we have hopefully done, is to seed the Mac, the full Mac lineup, with very capable GPUs, whether it be the MacBook Air, obviously, all the way up to the beast, Ultra chips that we can put in our Mac Studio. Because until you do that, until you have a population distributed, developers are going to be wary about making a big investment and kind of focus on Mac,” Millet says.

It’s interesting to see Apple address the Mac gaming market, something which it has strengthened slightly with Apple Arcade, though that’s a service that really shines on iPhone and iPad – the Mac and Apple TV integration is more of a bonus. One thing is clear, however: Apple want to improve Mac gaming. We just have to wait and see if it happens.

Anyway, for more, check out the best Apple Arcade games, or our thoughts on rumours of a possible iPhone Ultra coming in 2024.