Is Chex Quest better than Doom

How to Play Games on Mac in 2019

If you have a Mac, can't you play games? Think again The Mac gaming ecosystem is robust. From brand new releases to retro classics and even Windows titles. There is lots of fun to be had on a Mac.

Why should you (probably) skip the Mac App Store?

The Mac App Store is full of games. This includes large budget $ 60 releases like Civilization VI, short indie experiences like Oxfreeand the kind of casual games you would find on iPhone Donut County. To search the catalog, open the Mac App Store app and click the Playback tab in the sidebar.

Unfortunately, the Mac App Store isn't always the best place to buy your games. It is often more expensive than other stores and there are too few new releases and a lack of reviews for many items due to the relatively low customer participation.

Multiplayer games in particular have always had problems in the Mac App Store. id Software decided to remove the multiplayer mode entirely from its shooter RAGE, which was released in 2011. Since then, the game has disappeared from the platform. Gearbox Software's Borderlands was released on the Mac App Store with rewritten multiplayer support for Apple's own Game Center APIs. The game has also disappeared from service.

Compare that to Steam, which is far more fun from players for Windows, Linux, and Mac with full support for cross-play. Apple ditched the standalone Game Center app in 2016, but the service is an optional feature that developers can implement. It's unclear whether Apple will still need multiplayer games to use its own APIs. Most multiplayer games, however, skip the App Store entirely.

With the expected porting of Apple from iOS apps to the macOS platform sometime in 2019, we were able to see a lot more iOS experiences in the Mac App Store. This makes it a lot easier for developers to port their games to the Mac, but you're probably better off playing those games on an iPhone or iPad.

Apple's upcoming subscription game service, Apple Arcade, will also be Mac compatible. The service will start in the App Store in autumn 2019 and promises an ad-free experience as well as cross-play between Mac, iOS and Apple TV. At launch, Apple Arcade will be another attempt at a "Netflix for Games" service, with a focus entirely on Apple devices.

Get games from Steam, GOG, and other stores

If you want the latest big budget versions, especially multiplayer games, you will need to turn to a third party provider like Steam. Valve's distribution service has been the king of digital game downloads for more than a decade and is more popular than any other game service.

A push towards cross-platform gaming thanks to the arrival of Linux-based SteamOS in 2013 has seen more and more developers target the Mac for their first releases. That said, there are more Mac games out there than ever, including earlier access versions. With early access games, you can buy the game early and play pre-release versions, support small studios, and help shape the development of the game.

Steam is a storefront where you buy a game on any platform, you can play it on any platform. If you have Windows games in your library that have since received Mac (or Linux) support, you can download them and play them for free. Steam currently offers around 9700 Mac games.

The Epic Games Store is still a controversial growing contender on Steam. With a more generous revenue breakdown, with 88% of the revenue going to developers (as opposed to 70% on Steam and the Mac App Store), the service has been able to successfully attract well-known exclusive companies since its launch in early 2019 a Mac version of the Epic Games Store, although support for the platform is low despite obvious smash hits like Fortnite - but you can play Fortnite on a Mac.

If you want to play Blizzard titles like World of Warcraft, Diablo III or StarCraft II then you have to use the Battle.net launcher. Blizzard was one of the first major publishers to take the Mac seriously as a platform for their games, although the 2014 hit Overwatch unfortunately never got a Mac port.

Good Old Games, also known as GOG, is an alternative storefront with a focus on classic gaming. The service sees new versions as well, but the real benefit of using GOG is the ability to play old games on modern platforms. Many old games have been patched to work on the latest versions of macOS, and many others that haven't. In general, most of the old DOS versions are Mac-compatible (thanks to the cross-platform DOSBox), but most of the Golden Age Windows titles released in the late 1990s and early 2000s are not.

You can also play Windows games on your Mac

There are three methods that you can use to play Windows games on a Mac: WINE, Boot Camp, and Virtualization.

If you want to play Windows games with the least possible annoyance, then Boot Camp is your best bet. Virtual machines can work well for older games, but they lack the performance required to play modern titles. WINE, which runs Windows games on macOS, is a hit and miss - even if it works, it can cause bugs and strange behavior - but depending on what you're looking to play, it might be worth a try.

Play Windows games with WINE

Compatibility level WINE (stands for "Wine is not an emulator") was developed so that Windows games and applications work on Linux and Mac computers. WineHQ allows you to check the status of certain games. Learn more about using WINE to run Windows programs on a Mac.

Sometimes WINE alone is not enough, which is why projects like Wineskin exist. Wineskin helps create “wrappers” that WINE uses to know how to best handle certain applications. You can download prepared wrappers or create your own to make them available to the community. Other similar projects that focus solely on games are Porting Kit and PlayOnMac. All of these projects are free and controlled by the community. There is a premium project called Crossover that has a free trial that you can try it out with.

WINE is a mixed bag. Some games work fine; others don't start at all. It can take a lot of extra work to get something working, especially if you need to create a wrapper yourself. WINE can play both old and new games with similarly mixed results. It's a good place to start, but be ready to encounter weird behaviors, crashes, and blank screens.

Play Windows games natively with Boot Camp

You can also enjoy Windows games natively on a Mac. One way to do this is to use Boot Camp to install Windows on your Mac's hard drive. This effectively turns your Mac into a Windows PC and requires you to restart Windows every time you want to play a game. The main benefit of Boot Camp is improved performance as there is no third party software standing between you and your game. Learn how to install Windows on a Mac using Boot Camp.

Play Windows games with a virtual machine

Finally, there is another option when using the avirtual machine. This is a gap between the previous two methods. This works best for older Windows games that don't require high-end hardware. By running a virtual machine on your Mac, you can effectively run Windows in macOS. This means that you have to share the available resources (processor power, RAM, etc.) between the two operating systems.

The cheapest and easiest way to do this is to use the free virtualization tool, VirtualBox. There are top tier virtual machines that are generally more supportive and feature better, like Parallels and VMWare. Going this route will avoid the compatibility issues that come with using WINE, but you will lose some of the raw performance achieved by running Windows natively.

Play retro games with Sourceports

If you want to play older games, try Source Connections. A source port is a recreation of a game engine that was created to be open source. Many engines have been made open source over the years, including idTech 1 (Doom) through to idTech 4 and the build engine (Duke Nukem 3D). The result is an arsenal of open source engines that have improved over time. These can be used to play classic titles on modern hardware, regardless of which operating system you are using.

There is one caveat, however. Although many engines are released under an open source license, most game assets are not. This means that you will have to provide your own original assets from legally purchased versions of the game. These can come from the game's original media or from re-releases found on services like GOG. For most source ports, you only need to copy a few files into the correct directory before you can start playback.

Some of the best Mac compatible source ports are:

  • GZDoom - for single player projects like Doom, Witches, Strife, Chex Quest and community projects like Brutal Doom.
  • Zandronum - from multiplayer Doom matches in combination with Doomseeker.
  • eDuke32 - for Duke Nukem 3D.
  • Quakespasm - for single player quakes.
  • nQuake - for multiplayer Quake.
  • Yamagi Quake - for Quake II.
  • ioquake3 - for Quake III: Arena, Quake III: Team Arena and idTech 3 Mods.
  • FreeSpace 2 Source Code Project - for FreeSpace 2

Not only are source ports a great way to relive some of the best games of all time, but they are improvements too. Many source ports include new rendering engines, widescreen support, and back-end enhancements that bring new projects to life. Check out some of the best games currently based on available source ports.

Play old games with emulation on a Mac

Emulators are another great way to play games on your Mac, even though they exist in a legal gray area. While emulators themselves aren't illegal, getting games (called ROMs) that you don't own is the opposite. In many countries you can create and play software backups (ROMs) as long as you have the original medium.

One of the best emulators for Mac in Terms of Use is OpenEmu. This emulator supports a wide variety of systems including NES, SNES, Game Boy, N64 and DS from Nintendo. Sega's Mastersystem, Genesis, CD, Saturn, Game Gear and PSP; the Atari 2600 up to Lynx, PC Engine and NeoGeo Pocket. There are also some more opaque entries like Vectrex, WonderSwan, and Virtual Boy.

DOSBox is an emulator that lets you play almost any game written for MS-DOS on your Mac. DOSBox requires a good knowledge of DOS, especially the ability to bind folders, change directories and start executable files. If command line prompts aren't your thing, Mac App Boxer automates just about every aspect of DOSBox, and even imports box graphics and displays your games on a virtual shelf.

If you're looking for more emulators and ROMs, check out the Old School Emulation Center on the Internet Archive. You have tens of thousands of ROMs available for all types of systems, some of which you can even play in your browser.

CONNECTED:Is Downloading Retro Video Game ROMs Ever Legal?

Control of the action

If you want to play games on your Mac, you might want a controller or a gaming mouse and keyboard. Fortunately, any controller you lie around is likely to work just fine. Most generic USB devices work just fine on the Mac, so you can associate keystrokes with actions in your favorite games and source ports. With the free Enjoyable app, you can assign keystrokes and mouse inputs to a controller if necessary.

Some common controllers you can use with your Mac are:

  • Sony DualShock 4
  • Microsoft Xbox One controller
  • Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
  • Steam controller
  • 8Bitdo Retro Gaming Controller

Most USB mice and keyboards will also work with aMac, even if they have a Windows key layout. Peripheral manufacturers indicate Mac support on their packaging or on their websites. So always check this before you buy. With the free Karabiner-Elements app, you can completely customize the behavior of any Mac keyboard - including remapping the entire layout.

There are more Mac games out there than ever before

The Mac gaming scene is relatively healthy in 2019. While the platform is not yet widely known for most of the big budget AAA releases, the number of indie developers developing their games with multi-platform releases has increased dramatically.

Windows continues to be the dominant gaming platform outside of consoles, but more new games are arriving on the Mac than ever before. You can even find some exclusive titles that will run on a Mac but not a Windows PC with Apple Arcade, slated for release in Fall 2019.

Even if you can't get the latest and greatest games running on your Mac, you can always turn to the Golden Oldies via emulation and source ports.

Unlike Windows, you don't need to update your Mac's graphics drivers. They are integrated directly into macOS. Just update your Mac.

What about game streaming?

The future looks exciting too. With game streaming services like Google's Stadia and Microsoft's xCloud on the horizon, you'll soon be playing the latest PC games with great performance on any Mac - provided you have a good internet connection.

If you're interested in this technology, you can try Shadow to get a Windows remote gaming PC and stream games from it.

CONNECTED:Shadow Game Streaming Review: Powerful niche service but skip the hardware