Saturday, June 22, 2024

Play on Mac – Here’s How


I was in rehab, so I threw away my TV, my Playstation, and my old laptop. The new M1 chip MacBook Air was supposed to replace everything. So also the game console. This does not work? It works. With the Mac, you have several options to play many games of your choice and discover many new titles:

Game libraries with a selection for Mac

Probably the richest selection of games on Mac are libraries with generous game collections spanning decades, and a variety of sizes for Mac. To play games on these platforms, registration is often as necessary as a vendor application.

The most famous platforms:

  • Steam – Probably the largest selection of Mac games. A Steam client for Mac is required.
  • Epic Games Store: Requires the Epic Games Launcher. The provider often distributes games.
  • GOG – You buy the games online and play them on Mac, either in the GOG Galaxy app, or download the files and play them in the environment of your choice.
  • (Blizzard) – A selection of Activision Blizzard games that you can play with the desktop app on Mac.
  • Origin (EA): You play the selection for Mac through Origin Client, an application for Mac

The selection of games for Mac is significantly smaller than that of PC games, but the number is growing every year. If you want to play PC games on Mac, check out our tips on cloud gaming on Mac, Windows games on Mac, or installing Windows on Mac.

Mac AppStore Games

This option is more convenient for you as a Mac user: you only need to buy and install games from the AppStore, which is already available as a separate application on your Mac. To do this, simply click on the “Play” tab of the application. and be inspired by the selection. You can search for popular titles using the built-in search. From simple casual games to indie games to more graphically complex games, there are plenty of them here. Many titles are even free.

However, the games offered here are not always identical to the versions of other platforms. So be sure to read the reviews before downloading!

Play iPad or iPhone games on Mac

On Macs with Apple’s own chips, such as the MacBook Air with the M1 chip, you can also run iPad or iPhone apps. It works when the developers have also released their iPadOS or iOS app for Mac. Then find the respective apps in the Mac AppStore and click the “iPhone & iPad Apps” note when selecting. If the vendors have adapted the application for Mac (also with Intel processors), you will find the name “Developed for iPad”.

As of March 2021, there is no separate directory for iPad apps that also work on Mac. And so far only a few developers have made their apps available for Mac. There is a trick to transfer iPad apps to Mac if you have iPad or iPhone. However, this route is unofficial, not all iPadOS / iOS apps work on Mac, and Apple is working to fill in these gaps.

Arcade d’Apple

Apple Arcade is Apple’s game subscription that you can use on multiple different Apple devices at the same time. In addition to the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, this also includes the Mac. The selection is manageable and focuses more on casual, puzzle and indie games, but it continues to grow. The advantage: you can play all the games online and offline and with a subscription on any Apple device. So if you have a Mac, you can continue playing on iPad / iPhone or Apple TV.

Play on Mac with Apple Arcade
Arcade d’Apple

You can find Apple Arcade in the Mac AppStore application under “Arcade”. To use the service, you must purchase a monthly subscription. You can only play the games for the duration of your subscription.

Browser games

They are not as popular as ten years ago, but they still exist: browser games. This is especially good for you if you just want to quickly play a few casual games or search databases for classic games.

Cloud gaming on Mac

Cloud games allow you to play popular titles on almost any device. The services support IT work through the cloud. It is also possible, for example, that you can play complex blockbusters on Mac. Even those that have not been officially released for Mac.

There are two types of cloud game services: those in which you have to take your games with you and download them yourself in the cloud (leaf shadow). And those that already offer you a selection of games, such as Google Stadia, Magenta Gaming or GeForce Now. Pay a monthly subscription for all services. All you need to play on Mac is: the correct application, your Mac, a mouse or controller, and a reasonably fast Internet connection of 15 Mbps or faster.

Magenta Gaming also lets you play on Mac
Magenta Gaming also lets you play on Mac

In our test at the end of February 2021, all the services we tested had their pitfalls. Stadia and Magenta Gaming exhibited a stutter, with the latter even lagging behind for so long that gaming was barely possible:

GeForce Now wanted us to wait the middle of the night for easy access to a game. Blade Shadow thanked us after our payment with the possibility that we could use the access in nine months. Well thank you very much… Playstation Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming have yet to make their services available for Mac.

But at least we have a sense of accomplishment: the new game “Hitman 3” on Google Stadia at the time of our test works without additional payment and with just a few shakes. A successful new PC game on Mac, so it really works.

Play Windows games on Mac

There is no direct way to install Windows games on your Mac. But the appropriate Wine runtime clients allow you to run most older Windows games on Mac. One of these options is offered by the free PlayOnMac application or Paid CodeWeavers CrossOver. Of course, you can also use Wine yourself.

The advantage of these services: They usually bring a directory of executable games so that you can avoid being left out of Apple’s security system. Of course, you must have bought the games before or have the license for the game.

Wine and the resulting clients are neither an emulation nor a virtualization. It is a runtime environment that allows Windows applications to run on Unix-based operating systems, including macOS. The advantage is that you do not need a Windows license and the speed is faster than virtualization. The downside is that newer games generally don’t work on Macs that use Wine.

Install Windows on Mac

If nothing works, the only solution is the drastic one: install Windows on the Mac. Fortunately, this can be done quite elegantly and without data loss with the Bootcamp application already pre-installed in the macOS utilities. Here you can install Windows with macOS and use both systems in parallel. Windows then gets its own hard drive partition.

However, as of March 2021, Bootcamp only works for Macs with Intel processors, not with the new Apple-owned chips. And of course you need a Windows license and a Windows image that Microsoft provides for download.

Bootcamp is a utility for Mac, but only for those with Intel chips at the moment

When you start up your Intel Mac, you can choose between Windows or macOS using Bootcamp and play virtually any Windows PC game. Of course, pay attention to the hardware requirements. MacBooks, for example, don’t have a dedicated graphics card. As a result, new and particularly complex titles may not work well on your Mac.

Bootcamp is by the way the better choice for games than Parallels virtualization, where the macOS host system and the Windows guest system have to share resources.

Conclusion: a little patience

In fact, our conclusion should be sobering: you can’t play all the games on one Mac that you can on other platforms. However, you do very well with Mac games available on gaming platforms like GOG, Epic, and Steam. Apple Arcade is also becoming more and more interesting for Mac gamers with new titles.

Cloud gaming has great potential – a way to play blockbusters on a Mac in the future. If you want Windows games on a Mac without major restrictions, it is better to keep installing Windows. Hopefully Apple will soon equip Bootcamp with the ability to install Windows on Mac with Apple’s own chips.

Ebenezer Robbins
Ebenezer Robbins
Introvert. Beer guru. Communicator. Travel fanatic. Web advocate. Certified alcohol geek. Tv buff. Subtly charming internet aficionado.

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