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Apple’s OpenGL, Mac App Store Policies Hurt Mac Gaming

4 April 2014 4,077 views 5 Comments

The good folks at GameAgent are running a three-part series on the state of Mac gaming. Yes, things have gotten better, but Apple remains a roadblock…

The good folks at GameAgent are running a three-part series on the state of Mac gaming. In the first piece, they’re interviewed Aspyr Media’s VP of Publishing, Elizabeth Howard on the subject of “content acquisition.”

Howard mentions two issues that dramatically affecting Mac gaming and which titles are available on the Mac: 1.) Mac App Store policies and 2.) Apple’s poor OpenGL support:

GA: What other challenges might you encounter when trying to bring new games to the Mac?
EH: There are lots of challenges! The technology in a game could be prohibitive, specifically in supporting the Mac App Store; publishers may not want their game on the Mac or be motivated to support the Mac; there are hurdles present in the hardware and software itself, and Apple’s bug resolution process can take a long time.

GA: You mention Apple, and as the platform holder, they must play a significant role (whether directly or indirectly) in your negotiations. Can you elaborate on how Apple makes (or can make) it easier or harder to publish new content?
EH: I think the Mac App Store is hurt by the choices Apple has made in how content is sold. For a majority of gaming products, and even with some productivity products, the only option on the Mac App Store is to deliver a sub-par experience of what is being sold elsewhere. For a new Mac customer who might not know a lot about the Mac, I think this is a bad user experience; and while on one hand the Mac App Store offers the Apple experience of easy downloads, saved purchases to an iTunes account, etc, it also often prohibits users from getting the BEST experience possible on the Mac. Aspyr will be differentiating content much more on the Mac App Store in coming months because of this difference.

GA: What other ways does Apple influence the game selection and licensing process?
EH: Apple’s support of OpenGL has the opportunity to truly hurt or help gaming. Right now Apple is on OpenGL 4.1 with Mavericks. The gaming world has moved to 4.3 and above, and more attention is being put on utilizing OpenGL. Ultimately if Apple continues to move more slowly than the industry as a whole it will affect the content we can bring over.

Mac Gaming: Still Second Class

Mac gaming has improved so much in recent years with many A-list games coming to the platform. Some, like just announced Elder Scrolls ($80), launch day and date alongside the PC version, which is awesome.

Still, the latest Call of Duty game, PAYDAY 2 and recently released Titanfall are all missing in action.

As noted by Aspyr’s However, Apple’s restrictive Mac App Store policies and laggard OpenGL support (ie Mavericks only supports v4.1 while the industry has moved on to v4.3 or later) hold Mac gaming back.

Sigh. Mac gaming, we’ve come so far…

What’s your take?

Source: GameAgent

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  • Erik Lindahl said:

    I’m not sure the focus on OpenGL 4.x is the real issue. I have a hard time seeing OpenGL is the source of the sub-par experience we see in regards to games on OSX. Doing tests on a modern iMac I’ve found the following in two relatively modern games:

    – Windows runs Borderlands 2 with 92-210% higher frame rate than OSX.
    – In FPS figures we’re talking 72 to 148 fps in Windows vs 23 to 77 fps in OSX.

    – Windows runs Tomb Raider 2013 with 116-140% higher frame rate than OSX.
    – In FPS figures w’re talking 57 fps on average in Windows vs 33 fps on average in OSX.

    The above is simply shocking. We’re talking a smooth experience in Windows and a terrible experience in OSX.

    I ran everything on the same hardware with the same settings or a variety of settings. Windows also runs games with higher fidelity (high ULTRA quality vs HIGH quality) and still manages to output more frames per second. Not only that, OSX tends to see the games be release 6, 12 or 18 months after the Windows release – still it suffers from sub-par performance.

    In summary I can’t see a viable reason to buy games in OSX unless you know for a fact the game runs decent. I know in the past World of Warcraft has done so, however, Star Craft ran FAR better at release in Windows compared to OSX on the same hardware.

    Test Machine:
    – iMac 2012
    – i7 3.4Ghz
    – 2TB Fusion Drive
    – 32GB RAM (notera att jag endast kan nyttja 16GB i Windows, fördel OSX)
    – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2048 MB

    Test Software:
    – In OSX I was running the latest OS (10.9.2), latest Steam Client and latest version of the game.
    – In Windows I was running Windows 7 with all the latest patches, latest Steam Client, latest nVidia Driver and latest version of the game.

  • James Katt said:

    I can understand the limitation of Apple’s OpenGL being outdated causing slowdowns in Mac games vs. Windows games.

    But what MacStore Policies are limiting games??? I don’t see any. I would like it spelled out by the complainers.

  • the rocr (author) said:

    That all transactions, including in-app, are docked 30 percent. Developers are highly restricted in what customer information they have access to and can collect. Apps are highly sandboxed, limiting network and helper app interaction. And, there are more…


  • Erik Lindahl said:

    I have a very, very hard time seeing OpenGL 4.3 vs OpenGL 4.1 means a performance difference of 100-200%. Something else is fundamentally wrong in how either developers develop games for OSX or how OSX pipeline handles games. If anything, OSX should like iOS see an INCREASE in performance on similar hardware compared to other systems. That, if anything, is what I’d expect from a company that tailors their own hard- and software.

    I also find it disturbing that a lot of developers dislike Mac AppStore. On the other hand there isn’t anything speaking against them releasing their games on stores like STEAM which I strongly prefer as it’s multi-plattform. Win for everyone.

  • John said:

    Mac was always a second class gaming client and I don’t see anything changing anytime soon. Basically if you are gamer, don’t bother with Mac

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