Mac Game Developers are Nervous About the Future of macOS [Update]

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When Apple announced macOS Mojave at WWDC, it was revealed that the company is deprecating OpenGL (Open Graphics Library) and OpenCL (Open Computing Language) in favor of Metal, Apple’s proprietary technology. And that makes Mac game developers nervous (via Macrumors).

Update: This article has been updated with new information at the bottom.

[Apple Seeds macOS Mojave Developer Beta 2]

macOS Mojave’s Gaming Future

Apps built using OpenGL and OpenCL will still run on Mojave, but they won’t be updated after Mojave launches. Instead, Apple is encouraging Mac game developers to adopt Metal instead.

Apple launched Metal four years ago. It’s a 3D graphic and programming interface that combines OpenGL and OpenCL into a single API. Some developers are criticizing Apple’s move because of how it affects Mac gaming.

Image of two people playing games. Mac game developers are nervous about macOS Mojave.

OpenGL is open-source and cross-platform and lets developers create games that run on macOS and Windows. Since Metal is proprietary, developers would need to create separate versions of games for each operating system.

Game designer Rami Ismail told PC Gamer:

It’s not doomsday, it’s more like Apple building a giant EMP machine and saying ‘we might or might not use this.’ The worst that’s going to happen is old stuff will break, and our engines and libraries will grow a bit to support both Direct3D and Metal. Not having a clear guideline for future actions Apple might take in this regard isn’t very good for developer confidence, I’d guess, and not having a single cross-platform graphics API is just a pain.

Update

Ric Molina from MacGamerHQ shared an article with me where he interviewed several Mac game developers. These developers reassured him that the future of Mac gaming will be just fine, despite the deprecated APIs.

Raymond Doerr, the developer behind Rise to Ruins concurs:

Assuming the code only remains deprecated and *not* removed, no, I don’t think it’ll hurt anything at all. […] Anyone who needs even-newer OpenGL standards will also have the manpower to support Metal.

Another developer, who preferred to remain anonymous (but is behind one of the most successful strategy games released this year), agrees:

OpenGL is not going anywhere, it’s more like Apple are officially admitting they won’t be advancing it – which they haven’t, for many years.

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Tony Burzio

I think you have missed something incredibly important that Apple is doing with the Mac. Peripherals have attained bus speeds, good enough for video. I believe they have decided that the future of the computer is with a separate eGPU video box. To make this work the first thing you have to do is get chummy with one of the big eGPU box makers (check), then you have to gain control of the graphics software (check). Oh, by the way, an iPhone connected to the latest video card could also… 🙂

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jhorvatic

These game developers need to send a clear message to Apple about what they fear and ask for answers. Give them your feedback. Make it clear that you don’t have a clear path as to where Apple is going and need specific feedback ASAP.