The Mac is out of the game, and the M1 is useless

The closest the Mac was to the gaming market was when Steve Jobs just returned to Apple and reorganized the Mac product line.

▲ Picture from: bekia

At the time, Jobs said they had "started a new program" to bring gaming back to the Mac, and firmly stated that "gaming is very great (for the Mac)."

And in 1999 MacWorld on the high-profile show will debut on the Mac, produced by Bungie studio "Halo (Halo)".

▲ The "Halo" Demo displayed on Macworld. Image from: Apple

For this masterpiece, Jobs has high hopes, just like introducing Apple's products, saying that "Halo" will be the coolest game .

However, Halo has since become an exclusive game for Microsoft Xbox, which has also directly prompted Microsoft Xbox to become one of the "Three Royals" in the current game console market.

The Mac, on the other hand, has passed "games", and there is no "highlight".

Until the appearance of M1.

A few days ago, game developer Feral Interactive ported its two games "Total War: Rome Remake" and "Total War: Warhammer 3" to the M1 series of Macs.

This is also one of the few game development teams actively porting games to the Mac platform. In the Intel era, Feral Interactive was very active in migrating many games to the Mac platform.

▲ Picture from: 9to5mac

Adapting games for Mac is a lot of experience.

In the interview, Feral Interactive bluntly said that the combination of the powerful performance of Apple's M1 chip and the Metal API has greatly improved the development of games on the Mac platform.

The Feral Interactive team is very optimistic about the game prospects of the Mac platform that turns to self-developed chips, and believes that Mac will have new opportunities in the game market.

If you understand it this way, this is the Mac's beginning to move closer to the gaming market.

It's just that this time is different from the past. It was a pity that the Mac platform lost "Halo" before, but this time the M1 Mac has missed the "opportunity".

Great opportunity for Mac

After its high-profile debut at Macworld in 1999, many Mac users were looking forward to Halo, and Bill Gates also took a fancy to the game.

▲ Picture from: gamerant

Unlike many Mac users who waited patiently, Bill directly acquired Bungie Studios, improved "Halo" into an FPS game, and became an exclusive masterpiece of Xbox, becoming a phenomenal combination in the game market at that time.

Robbie Bach, the head of Xbox at the time, recalled in the book that stealing "Halo" from Jobs was one of the three most important things for Xbox to survive in the fierce game market. .

▲ Microsoft Xbox Series X.

The other two are the creation of the Xbox Live business and strong partnerships with game companies such as EA and Activision.

Later, many media and analysts sighed that if “Halo” was first released on the Mac and the platform became exclusive, Mac and Apple would definitely be the top players in the game market.

The reason why I thought so was because it was at the "golden time" of PC games and console games.

At that time, Microsoft not only became popular with Xbox, but Windows PCs for the masses also became popular, and even with a lower threshold, they began to erode the proud enterprise market of Mac.

You know, Jobs only returned to Apple in 1997, and before that, Apple has become a mature capital operation company, and interests and profits are the motivation for many of Apple's decisions.

▲ In 1999, the extended Power Mac G3 was released on MacWorld.

The same is true of the Mac, which was once loved by game developers. With its good graphics performance and scalability, the Mac platform was a hot game development platform at the time.

At that time, Macs were mainly aimed at corporate users, mainly providing work PCs for employees. Apple executives did not want to associate Macs with games, and marketing began to shape Macs as synonymous with "productivity".

▲ Macintosh promotional page "Macintosh is productivity". Image from: appleinsider

After the PC gradually entered the family, for the student group, the promotion of the Mac became a "learning machine", not talking about games.

In the face of rapidly changing opportunities, Apple did not grasp it, but Microsoft's Windows was in its hands. Contrary to Mac, Windows is the home platform, and gaming is their top priority.

Bill Gates even went to the sea to create a TV commercial for Doom, which is powered by the Windows platform.

Just as the Mac became a hot spot for game developers at the time, the Windows platform, which has lower barriers to entry, is more developer-friendly, and the official is willing to optimize for developers, has become a new “hot spot”.

And the Mac is also equated with "productivity" and "work machine".

▲ Picture from: fastcompany

In the follow-up, Jobs returned, and even if he began to work hard to restore it, both Apple and Mac were in vain, and it was difficult to compete with the prosperous Microsoft.

A series of business decisions and business competition made Mac lose the "good opportunity" to cut into the game market.

Bad Chances for Mac

Time is a cycle, and the game market lost on Mac has finally won back on iOS.

A good opportunity for Mac is actually the time when the end game begins to sprout. The release of the iPhone was the eve of the outbreak of mobile games.

With the emergence of smart phones and innovative interactive experiences, the iPhone has completely changed the interaction between people and machines. As a result, many new interactive forms of mobile games have also appeared one after another.

Unlike Android, since the release of the iPhone, it has regarded itself as a closed ecosystem. All software needs to be downloaded from the App Store, and a 30% commission must be paid to Apple.

Later, this rule also allowed Apple and Epic to go to court. In a survey report on App Store games, Apple earned about $8.5 billion in profits from games in 2019.

That figure is more than $2 billion more than the combined profits of Sony, Activision, Nintendo and Microsoft from games in the same year. According to Sensor Tower data , Apple will get $15.9 billion in revenue from the App Store in 2021, and games will account for 69%.

App Store revenue is still growing steadily, and game apps are gradually improving. According to Pocketgamer's statistics , in May this year, there were nearly 30,000 more games than the same period last year, and the total number exceeded 1.01 million.

More importantly, the entire mobile game market is also growing. According to a report just released by Newzoo, the number of mobile game players this year is expected to reach 3.09 billion, and the total revenue will increase to 203.1 billion US dollars. $222.6 billion.

In contrast, PC game revenue will exceed $41 billion, an increase of only 2% year-on-year.

In other words, now is a good opportunity for mobile games, and for PC platforms such as Mac, the tide is gone.

Even though the M1 series has a big leap in energy consumption ratio and even GPU performance (compared to nuclear display) compared to the previous Intel processors, for the PC game market with limited growth and low market capacity, its Attraction is not enough.

The "attraction" here is the PC game market, as well as macOS, input and output, and so on.

You must know that many 3A masterpieces use Microsoft DirectX, and macOS only supported OpenGL before, and its game experience was very poor. It was not until 2018 that Apple gave up OpenGL and developed Metal, and it was possible to transplant masterpieces.

Since the beginning of this year, the PC market has actually been shrinking. SA said that the overall decrease in the first quarter was 7%. However, with the strength of the M1 series chips, Apple bucked the trend and increased by 4%, ranking fourth in the world, but only 10% market share.

On the contrary, the Windows platform has an 84% share. Macs still haven't reversed the "niche" label, and the total is far less than Windows PCs.

On the one hand, it is necessary to re-adapt the low-volume Mac, and on the other hand, it is a mobile game that is advancing rapidly. For game studios, they are more willing to put resources on mobile games, or continue to maintain the original Windows platform, and focus on In the subsequent development of 3A.

Whatever the trade-off, making Mac games isn't the best option. The Mac is now under a not-so-good opportunity.

ARM architecture is not the 'savior' of Mac gaming

In addition to being self-developed by Apple, the M1 series chips have an obvious feature, that is, they are no longer the traditional X86 architecture, but the ARM architecture similar to the iPhone and iPad.

The good thing is that the energy consumption ratio is excellent. The disadvantage is that the absolute performance is not as good as the traditional X86, and many softwares are not compatible with ARM.

▲ The Maya on the M1 Mac was originally translated through Rosertta 2. Image from: appleinsider

But for Apple, software migration has already been experienced, and the Rosetta 2, which was launched two years ago for platform switching, was much better than expected.

As for absolute performance, it can be solved directly by stacking the number of cores. In some scenarios, the SoC of the M1 series can compete with professional desktop GPUs.

▲ Double the chip, double the performance.

In fact, the most important thing is the ARM architecture, which means that the M1 series of Macs can directly run iOS apps. In this way, the number of Mac games that were originally scarce broke out directly, and it seems that there is a bright future.

In fact, the game ecology in the App Store is not so glamorous. In order to expand the "mobile game" business, Apple launched the game subscription service Apple Arcade in 2019.

At the beginning of its release, there was support from established manufacturers such as Ubisoft, Capcom, and Sega, which also allowed players to experience new games at lower prices.

Many game developers are very optimistic about Apple Arcade, saying that with Apple's support, they can focus on game levels, plots and interactions, rather than spending energy on making money.

Whether it is hardware such as game consoles or services such as paid subscriptions, the core of the game business is the game itself, and Nintendo is a typical example.

▲ The game Wonderbox.

Apple Arcade has a huge momentum, with more than 50 games released for the first time, and expanded to 100 games by the end of the year, and the update frequency is also maintained at 4~5 games per week.

But after entering 2020, the update slowed down, and there were only more than 30 new games in 10 months. What’s more terrible is that there are no first-release masterpieces like “Pascal’s Contract” in Apple Arcade, and there are only a few new works from famous studios, and the quality of the games is uneven.

▲ M1 plus XGP may be the correct way to open.

SensorTower has counted the revenue of paid games in the App Store in 2015, which was about $642 million, accounting for 5.4% of the total revenue. For Apple Arcade to reach this level, it will take about 11.7 million users to subscribe for 11 consecutive months to reverse.

However, the game subscription monetization model has great potential in the United States. According to App Annie statistics, the subscription system accounts for 7% of the mobile game market.

The Xbox Game Pass subscription service launched by Apple's old rival Microsoft, from 10 million to 15 million subscriptions, took less than half a year.

The problem with Apple Arcade still occurs in "games". Apple wants to monopolize too much, and the review is too strict. Many game studios are not very enthusiastic about development. In addition, the home office of the epidemic in 2020 has also slowed down the development progress.

Today, Apple seems to have also begun to change the way of thinking of Apple Arcade, no longer relying on "exclusive", but lowering the threshold, introducing some classic IP transplants and the original "masterpieces" in the App Store, trying to improve the disadvantage of Arcade games. .

But for now, Apple Arcade is not enough to take Apple's game business. As for the M1 Mac that embraces ARM, it is really difficult to rely on Arcade to turn over in the near future.

The Mac is also not the platform of the future for the gaming business

Whether it's the Mac that brought Apple back to life in the Jobs era, or the M1 Mac that now embraces the ARM architecture, Apple has always wanted to make a big splash in the gaming business.

But whether it's the loss of "Halo" by accident, or Apple Arcade's exclusive strategy of quick success, Apple's door is always short of success.

Apple's self-developed SoC is already well developed, and there are only a few "phenomenal" games left to "ignite" the game business. It's just that for the desktop Mac, it may no longer be the center of all Apple's business.

▲ Apple AR glasses imaginary. Image from: Wccftech

The highly anticipated "phenomenal" game is more likely to rely on the AR business that Apple is preparing to replace the iPhone next. Compared with traditional desktop-level games, AR virtual reality will have a new game interaction logic and presentation method.

This is more of an advantage for Apple, who has been following it. After all, now they have self-developed chips, they can start building software environments earlier, and they can invite game developers in advance for adaptation and debugging.

This is like the original Mac, which has a good enough hardware platform and attracts enough game developers to create a game lineup for it, but this time Apple may not be easily "poached".

As for the Mac, the strongest label may just be "productivity."

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