Apple’s OpenGL deprecation could spell trouble for some MMOs on Mac

Get all the “haha people game on Macs?” out of your system right off the bat because this one isn’t funny. MOP tipster Apparition pointed us to a GamingOnLinux thread yesterday in which Linux and Mac gamers worry over Apple’s recent decision to deprecate OpenGL as of the next macOS release. OpenGL is basically a programming interface for graphics rendering, and it’s used heavily in gaming, particularly for supporting games on Macs.

Apparition’s, and our, first thought was for MMORPGs that might be affected. There are plenty of large MMOs that utilize this tech for Mac support, including Elder Scrolls Online, but it’s probably the smaller ones who might not be able to afford to switch to updated codebases. According to GOL, plenty of smaller devs, though not for MMOs, have already announced their intention to simply stop supporting OSX altogether rather than migrate to new tech.

As for MMOs, Guild Wars 2 may be affected, Lord of the Rings Online is reportedly already working on the problem, and of course, World of Warcraft has already migrated. We’ll be digging around for more clues from Mac MMOs. If you play on a Mac and your MMO of choice has made a statement about its security or its plans for the client, sound off in the comments and we’ll try to keep this post updated.

Source: GamingOnLinux, Reddit via @that_shaman. With thanks to Apparition!
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30 Comments on "Apple’s OpenGL deprecation could spell trouble for some MMOs on Mac"

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ultorius
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ultorius

ahaha macs will end up being overpriced internet browsing machines.Great move apple XD

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Yuri Geinish

Macs were always a joke on software availability. Moreover, their exceptionalism is overrated. I’ve used macs a lot and they’re objectively crap. Just get a Windows machine and be happy.

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Jeremy Barnes

I’m glad my office switched off Apple hardware. Not that I game on my office laptop, but now I don’t have to touch anything made by Apple and their controlling ways.

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Chris Moss

Never owned an Apple product never will. Younger bro had an Iphone5 once… I hated trying to use that POS. He is now a proud Android user.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

I’m never happy to see other gamers having something negatively affect them. That said, maybe it’s time to finally give up on trying to game on Mac for a lot of them.

Grave Knight
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Grave Knight

Apple just widening the gap between themselves and gamers. And, no, mobile phone games don’t count, at least not while there is so much shovel ware.

Swifty
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Swifty

A computer is just a tool for what you want to do. If a game you want to play is only on windows, then run windows. Whats the big deal? I don’t try to hammer a nail with a screwdriver.

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Paragon Lost

If you’re a gamer on a Mac, you’re a glutton for punishment. Sadly Apple has always been crappy about support for gaming on their personal computers. :/

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Sally Bowls

IMO, the comments are missing the interoperability issue – while Metal was chosen over something like Vulcan to improve interoperability. While MacOS, is clearly the 4th most important OS for gaming, by now Windows is down to third and fanbois can argue about iOS or Android on top. Metal was created to improve performance on phones. So Metal iOS+MacOS is a bigger gaming market than Windows+MacOS, At least technically; Windows is a better fit for most MacOS games.

The other shoe is that Apple showed off the start of a multiyear project to run iOS apps on MacOS. Apple even showed off four applications (that are also iOS apps) that will be shipping in the next version of the desktop OS using this tech.

So in the future, grandparents and museums which still have PCs can still use them to game by accessing the mobile games. :-)

tl;dr: yet another case of “mobile is why you can’t have nice things.”

luxundae
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luxundae

This is a good point. Metal works similarly on macOS and iOS, and Apple’s control of the hardware on each means that they’ll be able to keep it in sync and bring it even closer together going forwards.

It’s worth pointing out that lots of phone hardware out there supports OpenGL, and most modern Android flagships support Vulkan, both of which are open standards. But the Android ecosystem is so fragmented in hardware terms that trying to put together a game that uses Vulkan but can fall back to other stuff if that’s not available is a bit of a nightmare.

Also worth pointing out that the Microsoft-proprietary DirectX is used in both Windows and Xbox, giving it a wider install base than might be expected just looking at PC numbers. (Though no where near as big as the mobile market.)

I guess the frustrating bit, for me, is that you can imagine a world where we started to see a coming together rather than further fragmentation. If Apple decided to double down on Vulkan support in iOS (and, as a side effect, in macOS), you can easily imagine Android flagship makers and vendors like Snapdragon starting to do the same. That might finally start to break up the DirectX dominance era and make it easier (and more common) to see games with first class Mac and Linux support.

By going for the proprietary Metal standard instead, I expect we’ll see continued convergence. That said, it seems like a great business decision for Apple, who benefits quite a bit from Android fragmentation in the mobile sphere. So, again, *shrug* Not the end of the world :)

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Schmidt.Capela

While MacOS, is clearly the 4th most important OS for gaming, by now Windows is down to third and fanbois can argue about iOS or Android on top.

More like the 7th or 8th, if you separate them based on support for different graphic APIs:

– Android (Vulkan+OpenGL)
– iOS (Metal)
– Windows 10 on the XBox One, and Windows 10 S (DX12)
– PS4/Orbis OS (GNM+Vulkan+OpenGL)
– Switch/Horizon (NVN+Vulkan+OpenGL)
– Windows 8 or lower (DX11 and below+Vulkan+OpenGL)
– Windows 10 on PC (DX12+Vulkan+OpenGL)
– MacOS (Metal)

Also, Valve recently purchased and then open-sourced a library called MoltenVK that allows running Vulkan code atop Metal; seems like it’s now the recommended way to provide Mac support for games sold through Steam.

JoeCreoterra
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JoeCreoterra

Molten will definitely come out with a desktop GL -> Metal implementation just like they’ve done for both GLES and Vulkan, so the smaller guys will be able to leverage that in the near future. https://moltengl.com/moltengl/

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Schmidt.Capela

MoltenVK; runs Vulkan atop Metal, is open source, and supported by Valve.

JoeCreoterra
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JoeCreoterra

Yep, but that’s if someone wants to rewrite their renderer in Vulkan… which no existing MMO is going to do. With MoltenGL (once there is a desktop proper and not only ES) they’ll be able to run their current codebase with a few changes.

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Arsin Halfmoon

Is it realllllllly that bad of an issue? My main assumption when I think of Mac gamers are people who don’t play a wider selection of games, opting for more popular games from bigger companies like you mentioned in the article. If they did play indie games on their macs, they would be the really popular ones with the resources to make it work.

I like apple computers for business and productivity, but I really don’t think it’s that big of an issue when it comes to games

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Sally Bowls

Yeah, I see it as a “tale of two cities” – For the big devs, they will have to spend some money but the users will get a better graphics experience. A Good Thing, at least for the customers. The smaller devs who were not lucky enough to have their engine handle this for them may have a hard time justifying the port and thus continued Mac client.