WWDC 2022 – What if the Mac finally became a real video game platform?

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New Metal 3 graphical interface, MetalFX Upscaling scaling algorithm, ultra-fast memory access … macOS Ventura is full of features dedicated specifically to video games to seduce players as creators.

In the computer world, this is one of the most universally known truths: video games take place on the PC, and especially not on the Mac! But could this natural order of things be challenged in the times to come? In any case, it’s clear that this is what Apple’s aiming for. As a pre-echo of Summer Game Fest, which will shake the planet game this week, the company gave gaming an unusual place at its WWDC conference, dedicating an entire segment of the macOS Ventura presentation to it.

At the heart of the matter is the arrival of version 3 of Metal, the set of graphical programming interfaces (APIs), which is owned by Apple. This new release is uniquely designed, we are assured, to take advantage of graphics performance unheard of in the macOS ecosystem of Apple SoCs, including of course the brand new M2. And above all, in the said ecosystem, it introduces two technical functionalities over time.

Intelligent scaling and storage-to-GPU direct line to meet the demands of the times

The first is the MetalFX Upscaling scaling algorithm. Its operating principle is very classic: Allow the game to make its 3D rendering with modest definition, and therefore very significant performance gains, and then use advanced interpolation techniques to restore satisfactory image quality.

Unfortunately, Apple does not provide specific details on how the algorithm works, but generally talks about the combination of temporal anti-aliasing processing and a spatial scaling filter. Depending on the efficiency of the interaction between these two components, it may result in a visual rendering similar to AMD’s FSR 2.0. This is, of course, pure speculation, and it is only on that side that we can judge the quality of the treatment – not to mention its impact on frame rate. On the other hand, the treatment as a whole completely ignores any pass of deep learning, and should therefore in no way be comparable to Nvidia’s DLSS or Intel’s XeSS. It could at least be a good way to make graphics-heavy games playable under very acceptable conditions, even on a relatively modest machine like a MacBook Air.

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No Man’s Sky will be one of the first Mac games to use MetalFX Upscaling. © Apple – Hello game

The other big news about Metal 3 is an unprecedented API called Fast Resource Loading, which aims to simplify and accelerate direct communication between the graphics processor and the warehouse, without going through the processor and by utilizing the architecture to collect RAM from M1 and M2 chips . Does this pitch remind you of anything? This is perfectly normal: the principle is exactly what is already used by PS5 and Xbox Series X / S (under the name Xbox Velocity Architecture for the latter), and that is also the essence of the Windows DirectStorage API. All of this should allow developers to very quickly deliver large amounts of resources (3D models, textures, etc.) to be processed by the GPU, resulting in both reduced loading times and scenes that can relatively easily reach a high quality level. . .

Resident Evil Village as an ambassador

We understand that all of these efforts are primarily intended to convince developers that it will be relatively easy for them to create native conversions to the Mac and Apple chips in their games. And of course, such a message could not be made without a few developers who are already converted and able to act as standard carriers. Codemasters (Electronic Arts) thus confirms that it intends to launch a Mac version of its racing game Grid Legends sometime in 2022, while the studio Hello Games is working on an adaptation of its space exploration game No Man’s Sky, not only for Mac but also for iPads with M1 chip (iPad Pro 2021 and iPad 2022). Finally, the highlight of the show, Capcom announces for the end of the year a built-in version for the Mac M1 and M2 of its very popular Resident Evil Village. Really nice ambassadors that we are now waiting to see to what extent they will be imitated by other titles.

Resident Evil Village (editor's recording of the PC version).  © Capcom

Resident Evil Village (editor capture of the PC version). © Capcom

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