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The state of Mac gaming

I’m a big Apple fan boy. I love my Mac and I love gaming. I’ve seen with great pleasure Mac gaming completely evolve in the last few years. I remember the times when the best Mac games available were Spore or Age of Empires II (and this was around 2008!). Yet, I have to admit I just spent the last 3 hours playing on Windows (Guild Wars 2 is just that good!)…

Update: Guild Wars 2 for Mac is now available as Beta. My prayers have been heard!

The truth is, although you can play plenty of awesome games on your Mac right now, some of the very best games are still Windows only.

“Although you can play plenty of awesome Mac games right now, some of the very best games are still Windows only.”
Think for example:

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – 94 Metacritic score
  • Batman Arkham City – 92 Metacritic score
  • Mass Effect games – 89 – 94 Metacritic score
  • Battlefield 3 – 89 Metacritic score

So what does this mean for Mac gamers? Can a serious/hardcore gamer really consider getting a Mac for gaming?

 

The Mac platform has never been stronger

I will not get tired of saying this: Mac gaming is here and it is here to stay. We are witnessing the golden age of Mac gaming, with more and more AAA games launching on the Mac platform. We even have huge games with the same release date between Mac and Windows! You can play some of the highest rated modern games right now on your Mac. Don’t believe? Check this games:

  • Starcraft II – 93 Metacritic score
  • World of Warcraft – 92 Metacritic score
  • Civilization V – 90 Metacritic score
  • Portal 2 – 95 Metacritic score
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution – 90 Metacritic score

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict things will keep getting better and better: Apple and its products (iPhones, iPads, Macs and so on) keep selling more and more. Therefore more and more people have Macs and they are willing to spend some serious cash on Mac software, including games. The more potential customers, the more reasons for developers to make games for Mac… Simple.

 

Gamers can be more than happy gaming on a Mac.

If you have a Mac for any given reason AND also enjoy gaming, you can survive and even have some fun gaming on your Mac. I’m not talking about playing Age of Empires II, the original Starcraft or any other 10-year-old game. I’m talking about the coolest modern games available right now, natively.

 

But what about hardcore gamers?

If you are a true hardcore gamer, wanting to max out all specs and smoothly run the latest and most sophisticated games, Mac gaming will not be enough for 2 reasons:

1 – The hardware: Mac Hardware can be very good but not optimal for hardcore gaming: the latest iMac has great specs, however, it lacks top of line graphics cards (like the latest 499$ Nvidia GTX 680 for instance), and that is the main limiting factor for hardcore gaming.

2 – Choice is still “poor”: Some awesome games exist but a lot of other awesome games do not. Think about me and Guild wars 2, or all of those eager to play Borderlands 2 and Fifa 13.

 

Are hardcore gamers lost forever?

NO, you can have your cake and eat it too. You have 2 choices:

1 – Use Bootcamp:

You can get a high-end iMac like this one and install Bootcamp: you will be able to have an awesome Mac with all the perks of OSX, play some great games like Starcraft 2 natively and if you really want to play Guild Wars 2 for example, you can play it using the Bootcamp Windows installation right there on the same machine and install any Windows game you can think of and run it as you would on a “normal” windows machine.

This solution will help you solve problem number 2 described above: Limited selection of Mac games. For a solution for problem number 1: The hardware, keep reading…

2 – Build a Hackintosh Pro:

The ultimate solution for Mac lovers /hardcore gamers is to go the Hackintosh route. I am preparing a more detailed post explaining more in detail how to build yourself a Hackintosh and the advantages (and disadvantages) of going that route.

In a nutshell, a Hackintosh is a computer not made by Apple that can run Mac OSX. Now that Apple uses Intel processors and more and more “standard” motherboards, it is much more simple to build a Hackintosh.What does this mean for a hardcore gamer?

 

What does this mean for a hardcore gamer?

By carefully selecting components (the closer they are to those used by Apple, the easier it will be to have a stable machine), you can build yourself a monster gaming machine capable of playing the newest games at maxed out settings on windows AND also have Mac OSX on the same machine! And this will cost you a lot less than a Mac Pro!

I have a Hackintosh myself and I can tell you it works as advertised! I use almost always my Mac partition and use it as I did my previous iMac, and when I really want to test a new game only available on Windows, I launch the Windows partition and play as if my machine was a Gamer rig.

Are you a hardcore gamer /Mac lover? What is your setup? Don’t be shy, leave a comment!