Gaming on Mac is poised to get a little better thanks to a new Proton-like tool for translating DirectX 12 Windows games to run on macOS.
Apple revealed the news at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) along with other gaming-related updates. The company’s new Game Porting Toolkit, which The Verge describes as “similar to the work Valve has done with Proton and the Steam Deck,” can translate Windows games to run on macOS. The idea is that developers can launch unmodified Windows games on Mac hardware to test how well the game will run before committing to a full port.
“The new Game Porting Toolkit provides an emulation environment to run your existing unmodified Windows game and you can use it to quickly understand the graphics feature usage and performance potential of your game when running on a Mac,” said Aiswariya Sreenivassan in a WWDC session. Sreenivassan is an engineering project manager for GPUs and graphics at Apple.
Proton, for those unfamiliar with it, is a software layer that translates Windows API calls to Linux, allowing various Windows games to work on Linux. Valve’s popular Steam Deck handheld uses the Linux-based SteamOS and relies on Proton to increase the number of games that work on the device.
The Verge reports that Apple’s Game Porting Toolkit works in a similar way to Proton by converting Windows API calls to work with Apple’s Metal API. The toolkit can also translate Intel-based x86 instructions to Apple Silicon. There’s also a new Metal Shader Converter to help automatically convert existing GPU shaders to work with Metal.
While it’s great to see that the tool exists, Apple notes that it’s primarily for evaluating games before porting them to macOS. While that doesn’t stop people from installing the Game Porting Toolkit and trying out games themselves, there are bound to be bugs, performance issues and other problems that pop up.
Ultimately, while this won’t mean you’ll be able to boot up any Windows game on your Mac and start playing, it should open the gates for more game ports by letting developers dip their toes in macOS and see how much work it will take to bring their games over. It’s also possible that, if Apple continues to build on the toolkit, it could one day offer what Proton offers — a way to play Windows games on Mac without a full-fledged port.
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