Computing

You Can Play Almost Any Windows Game on Mac: Here’s How

Gaming on a Mac has never been the main attraction, but nowadays, you can play nearly any game on your Mac. While performance may not always be flawless, with a little patience for bugs, you can bring your PC game library over to your Apple computer.

The Easy Way: CrossOver

CrossOver is an application that does the heavy lifting for you. It translates Windows commands into Mac commands and works with not just games, but any Windows application. The best part is that CrossOver has a team of dedicated developers behind it. It’s not just a translation tool; it also optimizes several apps to run smoothly on Mac.

There are a few things to keep in mind, though. CrossOver doesn’t currently support DirectX 12. However, support for it is in the works, so for now, you’re limited to DirectX 11 games. Additionally, CrossOver comes with a price tag of $74. While there is a 14-day free trial, if you want to continue using it beyond that, you’ll need to purchase the full version.

Here’s how to get started with CrossOver:

Step 1:

Go to the CrossOver website and click on the Free Trial button to download CrossOver. It’s recommended to start with the free trial to avoid unnecessary costs for both you and the development team.

Step 2:

Unzip the downloaded folder from your Downloads folder and double-click on the CrossOver app. It will then move to your Applications folder.

Step 3:

When the app launches, select “Try Now.” If you’ve purchased a license, you can unlock the app by entering your account information.

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Step 4:

Once you’re in the CrossOver app, you can install some games directly from the Popular Applications window. However, for this tutorial, it’s better to install a game launcher instead. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to launch your Steam games through Steam, for example.

Step 5:

In this case, we’ll install Steam. Select Steam and click on Install. You’ll then encounter several pop-ups for installing additional components, such as a new font for Steam and the Microsoft XML Parser. Follow the installers as they appear.

Step 6:

Once installation is complete, Steam will open, and you can install your games just as you would on a Windows PC. CrossOver creates a “bottle” for each app, such as Steam, and your games will reside within that bottle. You can select your Steam bottle within CrossOver to see your games and access other options. You can even configure controllers or simulate a reboot.

The Hard Way: Game Porting Toolkit

If you want to play DirectX 12 games, you’ll need to turn to Apple’s Game Porting Toolkit. It’s similar to CrossOver but aimed at developers. It’s not the best option for end users, so be prepared for numerous bugs and setup challenges.

Before you start, make sure you have macOS Sonoma installed. It’s currently in beta, so sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program. We’ll guide you through the setup process for the Game Porting Toolkit. However, note that there’s an open-source tool called Whisky that can simplify much of this for you.

Step 1:

Head to the Apple Developer website and download the Command Line Tools for Xcode 15 and the Game Porting Toolkit (version 1.0.2 at the time of writing). Install the Command Line Tools and mount the .dmg file for the Game Porting Toolkit.

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Step 2:

For now, you don’t need anything from the Game Porting Toolkit. Keep it mounted and open the Terminal. Enter a series of commands, pressing Enter after each.

Step 3:

Start by entering “softwareupdate -install-rosetta” if you’re using an M1 or M2 Mac.

Step 4:

Next, enter “arch -x86_64 zsh” to open an x86 shell.

Step 5:

Now, let’s install Homebrew. Enter “/bin/bash -c “$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)”. If you already have Homebrew installed, you’re good to go.

Step 6:

Enter “which brew” to ensure Homebrew is pointing to “usr/local/bin/brew”.

Step 7:

Next, enter “brew tap apple/apple http://github.com/apple/homebrew-apple“.

Step 8:

It’s time to install the Game Porting Toolkit. Enter “brew -v install apple/apple/game-porting-toolkit”. Be prepared for a wait as it installs.

Step 9:

Next, we need to set up a virtual C: drive with Wine. Enter “WINEPREFIX=~/my-game-prefix brew -prefix game-porting-toolkit/bin/wine64 winecfg”. This will open a Wine configuration menu. Select Windows 10 as your OS.

Step 10:

With the virtual drive set up, we need to copy the Game Porting Toolkit to it. Enter “ditto /Volumes/Game Porting Toolkit-1.0.2/lib/ brew -prefix game-porting-toolkit/lib/”.

Step 11:

Now, it’s just a matter of starting your game. Let’s use Steam as an example. Download the Windows installation files for Steam to your Downloads folder.

Step 12:

In the Terminal, enter “gameportingtoolkit ~/my-game-prefix ~/Downloads/SteamSetup.exe”.

Step 13:

A Windows installation window will appear. Follow the instructions. Once done, you can launch Steam by entering “gameportingtoolkit ~/my-game-prefix ‘CProgram Files (x86)/Steam/steam.exe”. You can replace that path with other application paths to launch them as well.

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Step 14:

And that’s it! However, we highly recommend using Whisky instead. It automates all the heavy lifting and makes launching your applications much easier.

Mac gaming still has a long way to go, but with CrossOver and the Game Porting Toolkit, it’s now possible to play the majority of Windows games on Apple computers (with a few bugs here and there). For most people, we recommend sticking with CrossOver, as it’s more stable and doesn’t require a lengthy configuration process like the Game Porting Toolkit does. We might even see DirectX 12 support in CrossOver soon.

For more tech news and recommendations, visit OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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