How Apple is using its latest M chips to lure gamers away from Intel PCs to Macs

New processors helping developers optimise apps and transition from Intel-based PCs

Apple's latest M3 chip now has hardware-accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing, which are particularly key in gaming as it provides more realistic scenarios in computer graphics. Photo: Apple
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Apple is aiming to attract more game developers to its Mac computers with the capabilities of its latest in-house M chips and to capitalise on the growing number of users upgrading to their devices, two product managers have said.

The iPhone-maker, which recently launched its M3 MacBook Air, is banking on its new processors to help developers optimise their games and apps, and transition from Intel-based PCs, which would help the California-based company capture a bigger slice of the highly competitive industry.

“Developers who already have apps on iPhone and iPad make it easier for them to bring their apps over to the Mac because of the common foundation for developers, and it's brought even more apps to the Mac,” Stephen Tonna, operating systems product marketing manager at Apple, told The National.

“One of the areas in particular that we're seeing a resurgence in is gaming … we're seeing more and more games coming to the Mac, especially the high performance, triple-A titles.”

Unboxing the new MacBook Air with M3 chip

Unboxing the new MacBook Air with M3 chip

Triple-A or AAA games are those with a high budget from well-known publishers and which usually perform well in the market.

Among those titles include Rise of the Tomb Raider, the second in the series’ reboot trilogy, and Resident Evil Village, the 10th mainline game in Japanese game developer Capcom’s popular survival horror franchise.

Apple’s gaming push extends to the iPhone, with the remake of Resident Evil 4 and, expected within the first half of 2024, Assassin’s Creed: Mirage.

The M3 chip, first introduced in the latest MacBook Pro and iMac last October, now has hardware-accelerated mesh shading and ray tracing, which are particularly key in gaming as it provides more realistic scenarios in computer graphics.

“There are a lot of new technologies for developers to take advantage of in their games,” said Evan Buyze, product marketing manager for Mac.

Gaming has become big business worldwide as more developers widen their appeal to players of all ages and platforms spanning from mobile to consoles.

Gamers in the PC market, in particular, are expected to grow nearly 5 per cent to 909 million by 2026, from an estimated 867 million in 2023, data from industry tracker Newzoo shows.

That would be a third more than the 683 million gamers seen for the console market in 2026, the Amsterdam-based research firm said.

“We're seeing more and more of those high-performance games as developers bring their hands over,” Mr Tonna said.

In last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple introduced its game porting toolkit, which allows developers who have games on Windows to optimise titles and port – the process of creating a compatible version to a certain system – them to Macs.

Apple’s M chips have been designed to help developers transition from Intel-based PCs. The last Intel-based MacBook was released in 2020.

Apple sees the toolkit, alongside its stable of other software, “to be a huge part of bringing even more games to the Mac”, Mr Tonna said.

More games will also prop up the number of apps on macOS,. Industry figures vary, but it was estimated at about 31,000, according to a 2022 report from Forbes.

For comparison, there are around 1.8 million apps for iOS, according to New York-based technology comparison site BankMyCell.

Using a closely-knit ecosystem also promotes cost-efficiency, Mr Buyze said.

When the M1 was launched – which further improved the efficiency of Macs – more employers sought to integrate the devices into their operations, a study from Forrester had shown.

This resulted in more than $800 of savings per Apple device and reduced IT support costs of about $12.4 million over three years, the US research firm said.

“Enterprises are a really good example of where we're seeing this benefit with both cost and efficiency,” Mr Buyze said.

In addition, the ecosystem would enable brand boosting and help users reach a wider audience, said Sarah Younis, a Dubai-based content creator.

"It has definitely expanded my circle, especially with tech content ... which has been a hit with my audience and collaborators," Ms Younis, known as Tech Mama on social media, told The National.

Meanwhile, with Apple expected to unveil its plans for generative artificial intelligence at June’s WWDC, Mr Buyze said the company is “well-positioned” to adapt the popular technology on Macs.

He declined to further comment, but “in general, we're really optimistic about generative AI [and] working in that space”.

Apple does not routinely comment on future plans and speculation.

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However, the company has been leveraging machine learning to do all AI training on-device for years, in order to ensure user privacy and security, Mr Tonna said.

"Generative AI could streamline coming up with ideas and manage the boring and repetitive parts of work," Ms Younis said.

"From a product management perspective, the insights and automation generative AI offers could be a game-changer in making smarter decisions and creating features that users don’t even know they want yet."

Updated: April 12, 2024, 3:28 AM