Macs Already Run the Most Popular PC Games. No One Cares

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Did you know that the top 2 games on Steam are available for the Mac? That's right, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2, which at any moment in time have about 2 million concurrent players on Steam alone, are sitting right there for Mac users to download and play.

Meanwhile, No Man's Sky is the 162nd most played game on Steam and Apple fans are asking whether Mac gaming is about to turn around because their studio head tweeted a few apple emoji.

Setting aside No Man's Sky was announced for Apple silicon devices at last year's WWDC and it's already missed its expected 2022 ship date, this is the sort of Mac gaming story that's all too common.

  1. An old game is announced for the Mac
  2. Apple pundits ask "is Mac gaming finally going to happen?"
  3. Game releases and no one really cares

No Man's Sky would be a nice game to have for Apple's rumored VR headset, but let's be real here. You’ve already been able to play No Man's Sky in VR on PS4 and PC for the past 4 years, and for the PS5 since the PSVR2 released a few months ago. I'm sure Apple's hardware will make the VR experience solid, but I do think it's worth saying out loud that the VR platforms that seem to be struggling already have this and it hasn't moved the needle for them.

I would not be surprised if No Man's Sky releases for Apple's VR headset on day one, and it gets lots of press as it will likely be one of the few games there at launch, but I don't think it's an indication of Apple really "getting" gaming in a meaningful way.

Personally, I just don't think Apple has it in them to get high end gaming to click on their platforms. Yes, they make a ton of money on iOS games, but poke your head into the App Store top charts and you can pretty clearly see they're making that money on shitty free-to-play games that rely on whales to spend absurd amounts of money on gems and tokens and whatever else.

Update: thanks to Gruber for the link, and he correctly points out that the best smartphone games are indeed on the iPhone (and are often iPhone only). I do think that all those good games could vanish today and Apple's game revenue from the App Store wouldn't change that much.

I don't have a silver bullet for Apple here, but I will say that no single game coming to the platform is going to change things in a meaningful way, especially when many of those games come out years after they did on all other platforms. We'll know Mac gaming has turned a corner when new games from big publishers are hitting the Mac the same day (or at least the same year) as other platforms on a regular basis. As of today, one major game release per year ain’t it.