This is a sad day for Mac gaming. ArenaNet, Guild Wars 2’s developer has officially announced they will discontinue the Mac version of the game on February 18, 2021.
And it doesn’t matter whether you like Guild Wars 2 or not, or even MMOs for that matter. It’s a sad day because losing support of a hugely popular game is always bad for Mac gaming as a whole:
Starting February 18, we will be discontinuing support for the Mac OS version of Guild Wars 2. This means the Mac client will no longer work after this date.
You can read ArenaNet’s entire announcement on their blog.
Why are they discontinuing Guild Wars 2 on Mac?
According to ArenaNet’s official announcement, the reasons are mainly technological:
In 2018, Apple ended support for the OpenGL graphics technology that Guild Wars 2 uses on the Mac. They have also stopped actively fixing problems on Mac OS related to OpenGL, including graphics hardware driver issues.
But this sounds more like an excuse than a legitimate issue, mainly for 2 reasons:
Countless developers, both big and small, continue to support their games on macOS. Some even made the move from OpenGL to Metal to future-proof their games. Granted, moving a game to the Metal API requires time and resources, and many developers can easily do it because the engine they use supports Meta out of the box (the Unity engine being the perfect example).
But even if ArenaNet decides it wouldn’t be profitable to spend development hours on Metal, OpenGL is still around and many games continue to use without a problem. As far as we know, OpenGL could stick around for years, so why the rush?
2. Apple Silicon
ArenaNet implies that Apple’s decision to move to ARM-based processors is another insurmountable problem:
The differences in chip hardware will make it very costly and difficult for us to support both the old and new processor designs.
Yet all M1 Macs with ARM processors have access to a tool called Rosetta 2, which automatically translates Intel apps to ARM. And by the way, many games run even better on M1 Macs using Rosetta, than equivalent Intel-based Macs that run the game natively.
PS: We have tested close to 200 games already and 99% of them work flawlessly.
ArenaNet’s decision is obviously a business decision. Their revenue from Mac users isn’t worth the hassle anymore, and they prefer to stop the operation. And that’s ok. . A developer needs to be profitable and they should invest their resources where it makes more sense.
Blaming Apple, though, and using them as an excuse is not the way to go. Their customers deserved more transparency and honesty.
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What it means to you
In any case, their decision has been made, but what does it mean to you? In a nutshell, you will be able to play Guild Wars 2 on Mac until February 18, 2021. At that point, the Mac client will stop working altogether.
To partially protect paying customers, players won’t be able to purchase Gems on the Mac version of the game beginning starting January 19, 2021.
They also shared more details concerning Guild Wars 2 Mac players:
- We will not close any accounts based on what platform(s) you have played on. All of your characters, progress, purchases, friends, and memories are already accessible via the Windows version of the game.
- For the time being, Mac users can still play Guild Wars 2 using the Nvidia GeForce Now service.
- Mac players can request refunds for client or gem store purchases through the customer support portal. We will be able to refund purchases within a 30-day window of the refund request.
And with that, Mac gamers are about to lose one of the best MMOs available on macOS.
A troubled past
We’ve covered Guild Wars 2 in the past.
The Mac version of the game has been around since day one but feedback from gamers has always been extremely conflicting: for some, it worked great, for others, it barely worked at all.
When it became free-to-play, we decided it was time to give it a real test and benchmark it on several Macs. To respect the work that went into that review, including contributions from remote testers, you can still find our results below:
‼️ The benchmarks and results below won’t be relevant anymore when the game will be discontinued on February 18, 2021.
The game was tested on these three machines:
- iMac (5K, 27-inch, Late 2014): 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, AMD Radeon R9 M290X (2GB)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016): 2.0 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris Graphics 540 (1.5GB)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2013): 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB RAM, Intel Iris 5100 (1.5GB)
Each machine was tested using our in-house FPS tool, Count It, while playing the game for about 10 minutes using the settings below:
In spite of the rumors and complaints, Guild Wars 2 ran fine on Mac. Granted, the game was somewhat demanding, as can be seen from our 2013 MacBook Pro results, but that can be expected from an MMO.
These are our results running the game natively on macOS Mojave:
As a reminder, this is how we describe the different levels of performance:
- Below 20 FPS: Unplayable: Laggy gameplay, full of stutters and slowdowns.
- 20-30 FPS: Borderline: Can be OK in slow-paced games. Still, not optimal.
- 30-45 FPS: Playable: Acceptable for most (most gaming consoles do this).
- 45-60 FPS: Smooth: Fluid gameplay, with no perceivable stutters.
- 60+ FPS: Very Smooth: For hardcore and professional players, a luxury for most.
We usually aim for 30 FPS, because 30 FPS is enough to guarantee a smooth and fluid experience for most.
Top Guild Wars 2 alternatives
If you too are disappointed about the news and are desperately looking for a replacement, you’re in luck. Few genres have as many excellent macOS games as MMORPGs.
The obvious choices are the following:
- World of Warcraft: Its developer, Blizzard, is fully committed to macOS. In fact, this is one of the only few games that have native versions for M1 Macs.
- Final Fantasy 14: In spite of issues in the past, Final Fantasy 14 offers great Mac support. And when things go south, its developer isn’t afraid to be open and transparent about the issues.
Are you sad to see Guild Wars 2 go? Have you decided what will be your next go-to MMO on Mac?