Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Apple | Gaming on the Macbook Pro: That’s why it doesn’t fit (yet). | macbook

Andreas Mueller

After the positive experiences with the powerful M1 processors, Apple is now providing absolute enthusiasm with the M1 Pro and M1 Max chipsets. The incredible performance claims are increasingly manifesting themselves in real test results. The notebooks radiate an impressive sovereignty and apparently cannot be brought to their knees by any task. So are the new MacBooks Pro the perfect platform for gaming?


The games industry is a branch of the economy that is becoming increasingly complex. A few years ago, computer and video games could still be developed by small teams in a reasonable amount of time, but many current projects are beyond any scope. A popular example would be the game “Cyberpunk 2077”, which took eight years to develop with low cost structures and swallowed up over 135 million euros. These are budget dimensions that can certainly be compared to those of current Hollywood blockbusters.

Game development avoiding all risks

Analogous to the performance of a platform, the demands of the players also increase at the same time. Anyone who buys a game for their platform expects that the potential will also be exploited. The complexity and development time increase dramatically to meet the requirements. While developers and publishers used to be able to afford a creative misstep, today poor sales figures are life-threatening. Years of development simply have to result in a high return.

Ultimately, this constellation has different effects. On the one hand, we are seeing fewer and fewer niche products. Unpopular genres are hardly served anymore, the courage for innovation and new paths is missing. Instead of developing fresh concepts, success stories are tirelessly copied. At the same time, the technical effort involved in development must be kept as low as possible. Covering architecturally new platforms is a complication that is only attractive if the additional effort is guaranteed to significantly increase sales.

The Macbook Pro is traditionally aimed primarily at professional users.


The Macbook Pro is traditionally aimed primarily at professional users.


One for All – technical diversity is undesirable

Basically, the development of a game is designed to be able to cover as many platforms as possible with one source code at the same time. The more similar the platforms are, the more practical and profitable the development is. For this reason, the platforms of Microsoft (PC, XBox) and Sony (Playstation) have increasingly converged in recent years. Both manufacturers are aware that standardization will have a positive effect on the overall quality of the games – and ultimately everyone will benefit from this. If a title is really only available exclusively for one platform, this is due to marketing strategies and less to technical feasibility.

A good example of the problem of individual hardware is the third generation Playstation. At the time of release, this console was considered to be particularly powerful due to its special technical architecture. However, to take advantage of the performance, games had to be optimized specifically for the hardware. An effort that only a few developers wanted to make. Ultimately, the console’s potential went largely unexploited, and the platform’s extraordinary capabilities were seldom flashed.

High-end gaming for pro users?

If one tried to establish the Macbook Pro as a platform for games, that would almost initiate a reversal of the trend. With an individual processor architecture, Apple forms a contrast to established systems such as the PC or various consoles. At the same time, however, owners of the high-performance notebooks would place the highest demands on the graphics quality of the games – benchmarks and the resulting measurement data ultimately raise expectations considerably. A conflict that is difficult to resolve, especially from the developer’s point of view.

As long as the powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max processors are only found in the Macbook Pros, it is also difficult to estimate what sales potential for entertainment software this architecture actually contains. A Macbook Pro in particular is aimed conceptually and due to the high purchase price clearly at professional users. A target group that seems to differ rudimentarily from that of the classic player. It is difficult to estimate whether there are significant intersections here.

Apple game console as a possible future perspective

A game changer would be the introduction of an Apple games console that uses the same hardware base. As soon as market shares shift from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft to Apple, developers are under pressure. The Apple console could pave the way from big games to the Arm-based platform, which ultimately also benefits owners of other Apple hardware. Conversely, an Apple games console will only sell well if there is already a broad game repertoire at launch. So if Apple were really planning to launch a console, it wouldn’t hurt if there were titles running on the platform ahead of time. A ray of hope for everyone hoping for games for their Macbook Pro.

In 1996, Apple released their only game console to date - but the Apple Pippin was not a commercial success.


In 1996, Apple released their only game console to date – but the Apple Pippin was not a commercial success.

© Wikipedia Commons / Evan-Amos

Basically, it can be said that the technical platform would be ideal for a games console. On the one hand, the pure performance data are of course impressive. Both in terms of data bandwidth and performance measured in teraflops, the M1 Max and a Playstation 5 are roughly on par. Apple’s chipset probably doesn’t have to hide behind the performance of a high-priced graphics card either. Drivers and the architecture are of course not yet optimized for gaming applications, which makes a comparison difficult and only makes sense to a limited extent. In fact, however, the property of low power consumption and the lower cooling requirement would be excellent.

Cool prospects and alternatives for Macbook Pro owners

Power consumption and heat generation have been the most difficult issues to deal with in the development of the current Playstation and Xbox consoles. When the Playstation 5 was presented, many were surprised by the dimensions of the new console. A large fan and complex air ducts for heat dissipation are primarily responsible for the immense space requirement. Ultimately, this increases production, transport and storage costs – a problem that Apple’s frugal chipset would elegantly circumvent.

The M1-Pro and M1-Max impress above all with their energy efficiency.


The M1-Pro and M1-Max impress above all with their energy efficiency.


For those who want to play on their MacBook Pro right now, there are currently only a few options. An extremely small selection of games in the App Store, such as the implementation of “Disco Elysium”, is unlikely to satisfy most people. The emulation of a Windows environment under M1 only leads to a limited extent. Windows 10 can be installed via the Parallels software, but only in the ARM version. The restrictions imposed by the architecture remain in place here and the selection of games is small. In addition, the detour causes performance losses. A game on an emulated environment can only partially reflect the impressive potential of the hardware.

Apple and gaming – what does the future hold?

The topic of gaming will remain exciting for the future. For iPads and iPhones, it is estimated that games account for around three-quarters of App Store sales. Those are numbers that are sure to influence Apple’s future vision and strategies. The key difference, however, is that these are mostly smaller games that appeal to casual gamers. It is difficult to assess the significance of expansion in this market for Apple. However, one thing is clear – with the new chipsets, a technical basis for far-reaching ambitions and product lines has been created.

Tag: macbook issue, macbook pro, macbook release, macbook macos

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