Apple’s range of Mac computers have always been viewed as fantastic machines for designers and photographers, but they've never had a strong reputation in terms of gaming. This is surprising, as you'd think the qualities that make macOS ideal for creatives might make it well-placed to perform effectively from a gaming standpoint. But, traditionally, Macs have lacked cutting edge graphics cards and the processing power to run the best games.
Attitudes around the gaming abilities of Macs have changed in more recent times. There has been a rapid increase in the number of quality titles available, from free Mac games download options to AAA product launches. Here, we look at the history of gaming on Macs, as well as the key attributes you can find in the best Mac games today.
To answer the key question, Mac games are games developed for Apple’s computer system – formally known as Macintosh, but is now known simply as Mac. Apple released their first Macintosh in 1984, and it has since developed into a major player with new systems released even to this day.
There is no limit as to what games you can enjoy on your macOS systems. While some may require upfront payment, players can even try free Mac games as we mentioned before. The best free Mac games have become really popular and they often include optional in-game purchases, which allow you to customize your experience by buying certain items.
It could be argued that in the past the Mac was not the best system for gaming. However, the landscape has since changed, and the best Mac games are plentiful for everyone to enjoy. The story of macOS games is an interesting one, showing the computing titan's changing attitude to the gaming industry.
Back in 2010, VentureBeat published Richard Moss’s deep dive into the history of macOS games. The article revealed that while the machines may not be synonymous with the pastime, games have always been a part of the Mac experience since the beginning. Apple might have marketed the Macintosh as a productivity machine, but text adventures and ports did emerge on the first model.
Further titles were released as the years went by, but major competition appeared in the form of both Windows and consoles created specifically with gaming in mind. The release and subsequent success of Windows 95 made things even harder for Apple, with just 28 macOS games in total released in 1998.
Steve Jobs went on to revitalize the company and its hardware, but Macs continued to lag behind other devices when it came to gaming. Again, games tended to be released, but they were generally adaptations of titles that had already been out on Windows or consoles for some time.
Mac games continued to face many ups and downs over the years, with developments like the switch to Intel architecture having an impact. It’s clear that Apple is committed to offering an alternative gaming platform, aiming to win players over, even if it is a long-term goal.
One such development is Apple Arcade, which has brought a vast range of titles to Mac gamers for a reasonable subscription fee. From casual games to AAA titles, Apple Arcade has been a welcome change of pace for Mac users.
Meanwhile, Apple has attempted a grassroots revolution in cross-platform play between iOS and MacOS with the introduction of Mac Catalyst, helping developers port iOS apps across to the Mac. While the system is far from perfect, Apple can at least be seen to be making a concerted effort to bring iOS titles to Mac users.
On a more technical level, Apple has tried to bridge the hardware gap by providing compatibility between Macs and external graphics cards in 2018 while pushing its Metal graphics API. Once the territory of PC gamers, modern graphics cards can output intense, immersive gaming experiences. While Macs themselves haven’t widely adopted this technology, allowing users to connect to external graphics cards could be the next step in making the Mac a fully viable gaming system.
While the future of Mac gaming looks bright, the present is certainly showing signs that the smaller changes Apple have been pushing are having an effect.
The internet is full of articles from various sites discussing the best Mac games out there now. Whether you’re a fan of action and adventure, puzzles, or even strategy games, you will find plenty you can enjoy on Mac. The emergence of new monetization models also means that there are more Mac games download options, with the best free Mac games today matching the quality of any top game while having no barrier to entry.
Gaming is well and truly on Apple’s radar for the years ahead. The company has plans to develop its own ARM-based hardware to run games more efficiently. More recently, Apple has confirmed that the cloud gaming platform NVIDIA GeForce Now will be available to play on the Mac platform. This means players can play high-end games, regardless of how powerful their Mac is.;
In the long term, there is also speculation that Apple may shift focus and give macOS the ability to run iOS and iPadOS apps natively, giving players a bigger library of titles to choose from. This would be a game-changer, adding the whole iOS gaming world to the Mac.
Many believe that Apple may not be stopping there when it comes to their gaming interests. At the start of this year, there were reports that the company might be working on a Mac designed specifically for gaming. While that speculation has died down a little in more recent months, it is still an intriguing suggestion.
So, if you’re totally new to the gaming world and are looking to buy a machine, should you go for a Windows PC or a Mac? It is a big question that many experts have examined through the years, with the key comparisons coming down to:
Ultimately, Windows has an edge in terms of its community of players and developers, as well as the massive existing catalog of PC games. However, the likes of the App Store and Steam have ensured that the gaming experience on Macs has improved greatly.
While there are many elements that go into making great games, here are some of the key characteristics you should look out for to find the best Mac games, whether you access them online or by downloading them.
MacOS games these days can offer a high-quality experience, so the very best titles will undoubtedly offer plenty of depth in terms of gameplay.
Macs always look the part, so you can expect that the best Mac games will have excellent graphics across the board.
The best Mac games come in many different forms, and it is fair to say that the machines excel across a wide variety of genres. This means that, whatever you're into, you should be able to find a title that's perfect for you.
When looking for the best Mac games, you should consider whether the game delivers the best experience with all resources offered by your Mac. After all, your gaming experience will not be ideal if it is not running at a stable frame-rate. This is a question that should be asked when looking to download Mac games for free.
Apple device owners are now enjoying a healthy variety of top gaming titles, and it’s worth noting that MacOS games have experienced many evolutions over the years and will continue to do so.
Today, players have a range of downloadable Mac games in digital stores (including a collection of the best free Mac games) to experience for the first time. Macs might not have had the strongest gaming reputation in the past, but they’re more than making up for lost time now.