The announcement of the Apple Vision Pro headset stole all the headlines at the WWDC but for Mac users, the announcement of the new Game Porting Toolkit in the forthcoming macOS Sonoma was potentially more exciting.
The Game Porting Toolkit is available to developers that are members of the Apple Developer Program and allows them to more easily convert and test Windows games to work on Mac meaning more big gaming titles may be released for Mac.
During the WWDC demonstration of a Windows game that has been ported to Mac using the Game Porting Kit, it shows a game being played with DirectX 12 being translated in the background (see video below).
At the moment, although there are various ways of playing Windows games on a Mac, none of them support DirectX 12 apart from Boot Camp which is only available on Intel Macs.
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Apple has based the new Game Porting Kit on the open source Wine project to support DirectX 12.
Wine is not an emulator but rather a compatibility layer that translates Windows apps and games to work on Mac and Linux.
On a technical level, the Game Porting Kit simply translates Windows API calls to Metal API that’s used to drive games in macOS.
This includes keyboard, mouse, controller input, audio playback, networking and file systems to work on a Mac.
The Game Porting Kit is being compared to Proton which is a tool by Valve that allows Linux users to easily play Windows Steam games.
Linux users can play Windows only games om Steam Deck thanks to Proton and the possibility is that one day, you’ll be able to play Windows only Steam games on a Mac thanks to the technology behind the new Game Porting Kit.
At the very least, the Game Porting Toolkit enables developers to quickly assess how well a game will work on Mac before deciding whether to fully port the game and release it on macOS.
You can watch more on Apple’s announcement of the Game Porting Kit here.
At the moment, as long as you’re a member of the Apple Developer Program, you can test games with it and so far forums report users have been able to get titles such as Diablo 4, Hogwarts Legacy and Cyberpunk 2077 working on a Mac.
Apple’s Game Porting Toolkit announcement was complemented by the announcement of a new Gaming Mode in macOS Sonoma that optimizes the CPU and GPU for gaming on a Mac.
At the same time as Apple’s announcement, Codeweavers also announced that Crossover will also support DirectX 12 in the next version of Crossover 23 thanks to the same Wine technology.
If game developers decide to take advantage of the Apple’s Game Porting Toolkit however, it may mean that you won’t even need Crossover to play games on a Mac that require DirectX 12.
However, one major hurdle will remain for both Crossover and any games ported to mac using the new Gaming Porting Kit in macOS Sonoma – anti-cheat protection software.
Other than installing Windows on a Mac with Boot Camp, there are currently no ways to make games work on a Mac that use anti-cheat protection software such as Denuvo and the Vanguard anti-cheat software.
So even if Crossover and Apple solve the DirectX 12 problem, the anti-cheat software may prove a much tougher nut to crack.
There’s also the issue of frame rates and playability.
While the Apple Game Porting Kit and Crossover may allow Mac users to start playing DirectX 12 based games, much depends on how fast the process is.
Whenever a translation layer is used, there are usually trade-offs in terms of frame rate, latency and sometimes resolution and Mac users may find they can play DirectX 12 games but with slow frame rates, lag and in low resolution.