OS Neutral Why don't PC games come to Mac, and why when they do it takes forever?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by Dekema2, Dec 2, 2014.

  1. Dekema2 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 27, 2012
    WNY or Utica
    Well I have to go to class in a few minutes, but I'm sitting here finally bugged, asking myself why do game studios like Activision and EA skip over the Mac, only to publish their titles 2 years later?

    I just searched Google for Advanced Warfare Mac, and got these obscure search results:


    I had to click on the Steam link thinking they finally made it multi-platform. Turns out it's still Windows only.

    I'm not a big gamer anymore like I used to partly because I sold my Xbox for my new rMBP, but I still wonder why these game dev still skip over Mac almost on purpose. It's like Apple has to buy them up (which they can do) just to make something interesting happen.

    I hope they release a new ATV with gaming functionality, maybe the games can trickle down to the Mac.
  2. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    Simple answer - It is extraordinarily difficult to make a business case for development of a Mac version of a game (I'm talking in the AAA space mostly). Mac users are a small subset of the overall PC market. Mac users who want to play games beyond casual titles are a small subset of that subset.

    Now there are exceptions. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel launched the same day on Mac as its Windows and console counterparts thanks to a collaboration between Gearbox, 2K, and Aspyr. The latter and Feral Interactive are the ones primarily responsible for bringing Mac versions of games to fruition. Porting can take time, which is why there are delays between the initial and OS X releases.

    It's just something you have to live with as a Mac user. At least Apple gives you the option to install Windows through Boot Camp so you can basically play anything you want.

    You're talking about Apple buying a studio like Treyarch? Notgonnahappen.com.

    Apple already swam in those waters and came out with several jellyfish stings and shark bites.

  3. Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Not a big enough market, although some companies are more Mac sensitive, such as Blizzard and Valve. If you are not familiar Steam has a good selection of Mac Games. For myself, I play games all most entirely on my PC or in Bootcamp (Win7) on my MBP.
  4. Dekema2 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 27, 2012
    WNY or Utica
    It seems to be the case that the subset is too small.

    However a lot of times when Apple releases a new product they gain a ton of attention so I don't think nowadays it could fail like the Pippin or whatever that was.

    You hear more about the PC market being stagnant but the Mac movement growing. You'd think that help
  5. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Mac has 7 percent of the Desktop market no game developer is going to look for an initial launch into that small a user base. Not when they can target the other 90 odd percent with a single product.
  6. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
  7. TheBunny, Dec 2, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014

    TheBunny macrumors member

    Dec 12, 2013
    DC / Baltimore
    Sales for AAA games on Mac don't reflect those numbers at all.

    It may be as simple as Apple users...
    A. Are mostly not gamer. The ones that are have gaming PC or consoles.
    B. Or are much more casual gamers.

    But no the Mac game market is not 10% of the PC game market.

    PS: I should add its almost impossible to hire a skilled Mac Game / OpenGL programmer these days to actually port a game. I can think of about 10 jobs at major companies that have been open for a year or more needing this skill sets.
  8. trip1ex macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2008
    Small market. gpus in 80% of Macs sold suck. Apple not doing anything to promote gaming on Macs.
  9. Alrescha, Dec 2, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2014

    Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
    Or, something much simpler - as this thread indicates, the games are not there.

    The post I replied to said "Desktop Market", and I replied in kind. Obviously, without the games there can be no significant share of the gaming market. I think this is too bad, since there is no shortage of Macs in the hands of potential gamers.


    Addendum: Re: Market Share, as far back as 2009 Apple accounted for over 90% of the retail (i.e.: not corporate or home-built) computers in the over $1k category. See: http://gizmodo.com/5321332/if-you-buy-a-computer-that-costs-over-1000-its-probably-a-mac
  10. Wardenski macrumors 6502

    Jan 22, 2012
    Apple don't care about games on OSX.

    I gave up gaming on OSX ages ago. Its a lot better now though but the gaming experience is not on par with Windows.
  11. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    Yep. And the more devoted "Mac gamers" actually buy Windows PC games, and just use Bootcamp to play on their Macs. That means companies that are dedicated to making (porting) MacOSX games lose even more sales/revenue.

    Also, as stated by others, Apple has done little to promote MacOSX gaming, even though they spend way too much effort promoting gaming on iOS.
  12. Janichsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 23, 2006
    As do the GPUs in 90% of sold Windows PCs. If you really think the majority of Windows PCs are gaming powerhouses, you are quite mistaken.
  13. antonis macrumors 68020


    Jun 10, 2011
    It's mostly a circular problematic situation, repeating itself over time:

    - Game developers consider that the Mac market won't worth the effort financially
    - Apple do not make their best to support gaming on a Mac

    You may choose your own order for the above issues; the former triggers the latter and vice versa. The bootcamp "solution" (with or without quotes) is just an after-effect of the above.
  14. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    • Marketshare. Macs and OS X do not have the marketshare Windows has. It isn't as appealing to develop for to developers.
    • DirectX. OS X doesn't have it and relies on OpenGL instead. Many games use DirectX.
    • Hardware. Most Mac hardware available simply isn't suitable for AAA gaming. Macs always seem to be bundled with a bare minimum GPU and with upgrading options dwindling as Apple solders parts in, the hardware side doesn't look that brilliant for Apple.
    • Compatibility. Windows has extraordinarily good backwards compatibility, meaning older games are playable for a long long time. OS X is the direct opposite, Apple kill older apps in new OSs as soon as they can, wanting developers to continuously update their apps to maintain functionality with new OSs. This isn't something the gaming industry wants to do at large and OS X is in a situation where it does have plenty of games, but half of them cannot be run on new Macs because Apple chose to ditch Rosetta and Classic as soon as they could.
  15. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    This is a great point. I can install and play all my CD-based games from 10-15 years ago (that don't have releases on GOG) on Windows 8.1. I can't do this with similar games on the Mac.
  16. VI™ macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2010
    Shepherdsturd, WV
    But cost vs. performance greatly favors the PC market. It is getting better though. When I bought my first Macbook Pro (2.0 Core Duo) it had an ATI card that would barely play WoW and the computer was over $2,000 while at the same time I had a year old Dell 17” Inspiron with an Nvidia GPU that would play most games I threw at it at mid to high settings. Not to mention it would shut itself off because the temp was too high when trying to play anything connected to a larger monitor.

    Even now, my rMBP has a hard time playing games at a decent frame rate with settings higher than medium for most 3D games and it gets hot enough to burn your fingers if you touch the spaces between the keys and make you sweat to death if you actually have it on your lap. I love it for editing photos and video though, but for $2,700 I could buy two PC laptops that could play games as well if not better with more comfort.

    When it comes to desktop performance, Apple just loses out completely there. I have a PC I build with an i7-920 OC’ed to 3.4 or so and it’s on its 3rd video card from upgrades over the six or so years that I’ve had it. Granted, I spent as much on it as a base Mac Pro, but I could have done so for much less if I wasn’t buying $500 & $600 GPUs. That and most any desktop PC can have the GPU upgraded. If you’re using a Mac Mini or an iMac, you have to buy a whole new system where as a PC desktop just requires a new card ($100-$200 will get me something acceptable for gaming) and all you have to do is update drivers. You don’t have to install software over again and get everything set up the way you want. It’s just cheaper and easier to game with a Wintel box in the first place.
  17. Irishman macrumors 68030

    Nov 2, 2006
    Your baggage is showing! #


    Wait. You mean that I can't swing over to Best Buy and take home a $500 windows machine that plays everything at ultra settings no slower than 60fps?!?

  18. foobarbazqux, Dec 3, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014

    foobarbazqux macrumors regular

    Apr 17, 2014
    It's all about market share. Things like what platforms have the more powerful GPUs and whatnot are just technicalities and don't really drive the business decisions. If companies thought they'd make the most money making games for low-end Macs that only have integrated graphics, for example, they'd make their games for them and dumb down the graphics enough so they could run. Obviously that's not the case since they know gamers are willing to buy PCs with dedicated GPUs but my point is that companies follow the money.
  19. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    Touche, a valid response Janichsan. :D

    And yes, the vast majority of "PCs" are probably business/corporate dumb terminals. Like the stupid crippled Dell machine I use at work. Corporate IT even disabled (or removed) the sound card, because clearly they do not want us to listen to music while at work, nor listen to or see YouTube videos and other "non-productive" uses of our workplace computers. The graphics card is very basic, definitely not something you would ever use for PC gaming.
  20. koyoot macrumors 603


    Jun 5, 2012
    Truth be told, it is the lack of APIs on OSX.

    OpenGL here lacks performance compared to Windows platform. OpenCL? For gaming? :D

    Only way that could potentially help in future is Mantle/Metal. Intel said that they will work on it to optimize for their GPUs, as for Nvidia...

    They will skip it.

    And by looking at the GPUs that are starting been used in Macs lately, it turns out that there will be some sort of monopol in this ecosystem.

    Intel - CPUs, and mobile GPUs, AMD - GPUs, and software. You can see where Im going here.

    I don't really think that the amount of Mac owners is a problem right now.

    6.5% in US only, and 80-90, maybe even 100 mln units globally, that are capable of running latest Operating system from Apple. Its a lot.

    Second thing, if you are optimizing game for Mantle, not for lets say Direct X, you get rid of all the problems of compatibility between two totally different platforms. That is why EA is really investing in Mantle, thats why in general, Developer response for Mantle was really positive.

    Cause programming for that API saves you a lot of time, and a lot of money. And gives you true multiplatform capabilities, cause as we know, Console games run on AMD's hardware, and at least PS4 will use Mantle.

    Funniest part is that MS has to move in that direction either. Closing them up with DX12, rather than Mantle will bring a lot of problems for them, as well as developers.

    Im not sure how all this will change the state of Mac Gaming, but Metal is at least a little spark in the dark of Apple Ecosystem.
  21. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    I don't know enough about Mantle to refute or comment on your Mantle predictions. But also keep in mind that the Unity engine has done a lot of good for cross-platform development.

    A few dozen really good games recently released for Mac and Linux, and not just Windows, because of Unity. I'm not saying all of those Unity games are top-AAA games. But a few of them are solid good games that would have strictly stayed as Windows-only if it were not for Unity.
  22. marksatt macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2013
    Epic UK
    It isn't really much to do with the available APIs on the Mac. The end result will probably run a little faster and have more features on Direct3D versus OpenGL due to the relative state of the available drivers & versions, but the process of writing the code is not materially different. Some games might rely on those features which can make them tricky to port but they are an unusual minority. However there's a cost to developing the Mac version and for big publishers there needs to be a big reward to justify that.

    The number of Macs with specifications high enough to run modern games, especially the largest, big-box AAA games like Call of Duty, is smaller than the number of such Windows PCs. Historically there have also been fewer Mac games sold given the Mac's marketshare versus Windows. That indicates to the big publishers that there are fewer Mac gamers, meaning fewer potential paying customers for them. So few big games target the Mac from the get-go.

    Instead a company like Feral or Aspyr, who have much lower overheads, will acquire the rights to develop & publish a Mac (and now Linux) version of the game from the original publisher. The porting process then takes time as the Windows code is hooked up to the Mac OS X APIs using a different compiler etc. Since this normally happens after a game has already shipped on PC you see a delay before the Mac version is released. Both the companies I mention have various internal SDKs to make the process easier, but each game has its own unique challenges not least because games are constantly adding new features especially in terms of rendering.

    Perhaps more interestingly this economic/business phenomena has spread to Windows PC games too. Ubisoft & Take-Two have farmed out the Windows PC version of many of their titles to smaller/cheaper studios within their empires. Eidos long ago moved development of nearly all Windows versions to Nixxes and Square-Enix have carried that on. Activision haven't required Bungie to develop and ship a Windows version of Destiny despite having committed to investing $500 million. Big publishers appear to consider even the Windows market as secondary to the consoles, which makes day-and-date Mac versions even less likely.

    With Unity supporting the Mac from birth (the Windows version is actually the port!) and UE4 providing native Mac support (disclosure: I work on the Mac version of UE4 for Epic) maybe this will change. Certainly you see independent developers releasing games on as many platforms as they can reasonably support. The big publishers are a bit different, they have higher overheads so they'd need a greater guarantee of return on any investment in Mac versions.
  23. antonis macrumors 68020


    Jun 10, 2011
    Excellent points. On top of that, I'd like to put an additional fact; I constantly have the feeling that bootcamp has worked as an alibi for Apple (and Mac users as well) all these years, so, in a sense, bootcamp is working against the Mac gaming growth since it brings the following argument to the table: "If you want to play games on your mac, you can just run Windows natively without hassle".

    The native support of Unity is indeed great news. However, Mac gaming needs more love from Apple if it is going to get serious. The lack of crossfire on OS X for the Mac Pro is a very good example that Apple is not yet serious in this context.
  24. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    Not "yet" serious? Apple has never given its platform serious consideration for gaming. Further, the FirePro-based cards in the new Mac Pro are not meant for that purpose either.

    If Apple were to have a breakthrough, they would provide better support for multiple GPUs and offer for sale a desktop system with more traditional hardware, eg non-Xeon processors and consumer-class GPUs.
  25. malman89 macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    You should use the less than 10% worldwide stat instead of the 13.7% US number. While gaming is a very profitable industry in the US, gaming is much bigger worldwide.


    Re: OP, it also doesn't help that those who want to game on a Mac either have a Windows rig specifically for that purpose or use Bootcamp to install Windows on their machine, really making it useless for Apple to push for games to come to OS X.

    Just think of the numbers - 10% worldwide market share. Small % of those users actually care about gaming. Large percent of those users have a second machine/Windows install solution. That leaves only a tiny segment who choose to use a Mac that are don't have one of those two options available.

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