Game Porting Toolkit is Apple’s latest developer-facing games effort introduced at WWDC. The new tool marries together Wine, the not-emulator, with some Apple Metal graphics API wizardry. Developers get a real-time look at their Windows game on the Mac to help speed the porting process. But getting games running on the Mac platform has never been the issue. I take a look at the historical and modern landscape of this in a guest oped for my alma mater, iMore.
The conventional narrative around Apple and games is that Steve Jobs didn’t like games, discouraging their development on the platform early in its existence, fearing that the Mac would be dismissed as a toy and unsuitable for business use. That original sin cascaded throughout the decades to leave the Mac a barren wasteland for games. Jobs has been dead since 2011, however, and Apple’s managed by living people making those decisions today.
That also conveniently ignores the fact that Microsoft weaponized DirectX to create the Xbox, making certain by result that Apple would always be an also-ran when it comes to games. Decades of Windows game dev tech debt means a developer culture that’s not Mac-friendly, along with a business culture that doesn’t see value in chasing the meager scraps of the Mac market when there are bigger fish to catch, like consoles and mobile.
Game Porting Toolkit tells developers that Apple has performant gaming hardware. But in some ways, Apple needs a Game Porting Toolkit for the rest of the game business. That’s a much taller order, and not something that Apple can fix with patches to Wine and Metal.