If you are a Mac gamer, chances are you’ve been in one way or another mocked by your PC gamer friends. It is a widely accepted fact that when it comes to video games, MacBook gamers are often left out. Because developers tend to focus on creating games that are compatible with the PC, which can be frustrating if you own a Mac computer.
We have to admit that to this day when it comes to gaming, the more dominant operating system is Microsoft. The hardware in Mac computers is just not built for modern gaming, leaving Mac gamers very few game options.
However, even though MacBooks cannot match the features that a gaming PC can offer, it does not make it impossible to play games on them. Some developers have recently created games to now also suit Mac computers.
So, if you are looking for epic video games to play on your Mac, you have come to the right place. And, not only will we provide a list of the best Mac games today, but we will also give you a rundown on how to maximize your Mac gaming experience.
Game Center vs. Steam
Unlike iPhones and iPads that make use exclusively of the App Store, thankfully, Mac users are not required to use one single store for purchasing games. And while we can’t say anything wrong about the user-friendliness of the Mac App Store, we recommend against relying too much on it for games. Here are some reasons why.
Developers find it difficult to create games that adhere to the platform’s restrictive Sandboxing policies. Sandboxing is Apple’s attempt to prevent apps from potentially harming your Mac (i.e., adjust your machine’s settings, delete your files, etc.).
While it is meant to protect your computer, it also stops you from enjoying multiplayer games. Apple makes use solely of the Game Center as its multiplayer platform, which is why most game developers don’t even bother creating multiplayer modes in Mac games.
See, most gamers who play on Windows make use of Steam for multiplayer games. Sadly, there is no way to convert Steam’s multiplayer elements such that they can run on Game Center. As such, Mac gamers won’t be able to play with Steam gamers. And since most people are on Steam, and it tends to be quite lonely on Game Center. For Mac gamers who enjoy playing in multiplayer mode, this is a horrific nightmare. After all, what’s the point of owning the best Mac games when you can only play them with a limited pool of players?
An excellent way to compare the two platforms is by taking a look at Borderlands 2, a video game that had both a Mac and Steam release. While the Mac App Store sells the game for a much lower price (only $19.99 compared to Steam’s $39.99), you will not get the same features that the Steam version offers.
For instance, you won’t get to enjoy SHiFT codes in the Mac App Store version of the game. Also, in the game, there is such a thing as a golden chest which may be unlocked with golden keys. However, there is absolutely no way for you to get ahold of these keys. So, it’s kind of odd that the Mac App version took out the keys but not the chest.
And, since you can only use the Game Center to play the multiplayer mode, you only get to play with such a limited number of players. So, even though the Steam version cost’s almost double the price, it is still the much better option between the two.
As such, Game Center does not hold a candle to Steam at all. Apart from the significantly higher user count, SteamPlay also gives you the option to play with other gamers despite having different platforms. Thankfully, there are almost 4,000 games for Mac that you can enjoy on SteamPlay.
How To Maximize Mac Gaming
Nothing could be worse than a brand new game, not working correctly or at all on your computer. What was meant to be a day of unwinding from the stresses of life suddenly turns into a frustrating one. Sadly, for Mac users, this situation happens quite often. May it be a freezing screen, a drop in the FPS, or a dip in the performance, these bugs are unavoidable if your computer’s specs don’t match the requirements of the game.
However, there are simple ways you can do to prevent these bugs from taking place. Who says you can’t enjoy a game just because you’re stuck with a Mac? It’s just a matter of tweaking your settings a little and installing a few upgrades. In this section, we’ll share some tips on how you can optimize the performance of your MacBook while gaming.
When trying to maximize your Mac, it is vital to learn the state of your computer. When it comes to gaming, the two key factors you need to learn about are CPU and memory usage. The Activity Monitor allows you to see all the processes running on your computer. Through the program, you’ll be able to determine the internal graphics system of your machine. There are two types – the integrated GPU and the high-performance discrete GPU. More on this later.
If you want to improve the speed of your computer, close all unnecessary processes by highlighting on them and clicking on the x button found in the upper-left side of the Activity Monitor. Closing all programs that eat a lot of your CPU load may seem unimportant, but it will contribute to speeding up your computer.
The next thing you need to check is your computer’s memory usage. In this section of the Activity Monitor, you’ll be able to see the programs that use up a ton of your computer’s memory. Close these memory drainers to improve your Mac’s performance. You’ll know that your computer’s memory is in a healthy state if the color coding found in the section is green or yellow. If it’s red, try closing some programs. If you’re still in the red, you might want to consider installing more RAM on your machine.
As we’ve mentioned, a Mac has two types of graphics systems. The discrete GPU, which promotes better performance, and the integrated GPU, which enhances your battery life. Adjusting the settings of these graphics systems will help improve gaming performance.
One option is to turn off Automatic Graphics Switching, which you can do so by going to System Preferences → Energy Saver. The only drawback to this is your battery life will be sacrificed.
For those who have an external monitor, it’s possible to set it as your primary display. In doing so, all programs and applications will launch on your external monitor.
The next step in improving your game’s graphics is to adjust the in-game settings. Screen resolution is one setting you can modify such that the game runs fast without sacrificing the graphics. In some games, you can also adjust the quality of the graphics from low to medium to high.
Hard drive space may be another factor why your game slows down, especially if your game requires a ton of space. As such, it is essential to allow some space in your computer before you start your game. Programs such as CCleaner will analyze and determine the junk data you have on your computer. This will help you identify which applications and files to delete or uninstall.
Programs that eat up your computer’s resources may cause lag when you begin a game right after startup. These pesky apps may easily be cleaned up via third-party programs such as CCleaner. Delete the programs deemed unnecessary by the software.
If you want all the help you can get, even by merely disabling the Notification Center will offer some improvement.
One redeeming factor about a MacBook is its ability to support various types of controllers. May it be official console controllers or generic ones, wired or wireless, your Mac computer can accommodate them all. For folks who own a game console, try connecting its controller to your Mac. Chances are, it’s going to work.
For instance, if you have a PlayStation 4, you can pair the DualShock 4 to your MacBook via Bluetooth or a USB cable. Have a Nintendo Switch? Great! The Pro Controller and Joy-Con are pairable with a Mac using Bluetooth as well.
For Xbox owners, you may still connect your controller to your MacBook, but you need to install a third-party software first to do so. Called 360Controller, the app will allow you to connect your controller using a USB cable.
If you do not have a controller yet and are planning to buy one – we highly recommend the Steam Controller from Valve. It is incredibly easy to set-up, especially if you’re using Steam.
If you want to improve your computer’s graphics, we highly suggest that you invest in an External Graphics Processing Unit or an eGPU. It serves as an additional graphics card on top of your internal video processor. The external card will significantly enhance the power of your graphics and thereby improve your game’s performance. Because it makes your computer’s graphics a lot better, an eGPU allows you to use VR headsets while gaming.
But, there are specific requirements your MacBook must meet to install an eGPU. First of all, it has to have Thunderbolt 3, and it has to run on at least the macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 version. While an eGPU might cost a lot, it’s a worthwhile purchase.
If your MacBook is Thunderbolt 3-compatible, you also might want to consider upgrading your RAM. But first, check with your local App Store whether or not your machine’s RAM may be updated. See, the majority of newer MacBooks have their RAM attached to the logic board, making them un-upgradeable.
Where to Get The Best Mac Games For a Lower Price
If you’re looking for a place where you can buy affordable Mac games, you’re in luck. There are several options you could choose from for these.
One of them is Steam. Every year they hold two sales – one in June and one at Christmas. If you want the best mac games at much lower prices, these sales must not be missed.
The Humble Bundle also offers Mac video games at discounted rates. These games often come with soundtracks and mobile versions, as well.
GOG, which stands for Good Old Games, is another excellent service that offers affordable Mac games.
Lastly, don’t forget the power of emulators. An emulator is a fantastic method to use to play games on your Mac. If you’re feeling a bit nostalgic, why not download classic games such as Super Mario Bros, Pokemon Blue, U.N. Squadron, Final Fantasy VII, Castlevania, and Vectorman? Playing these classic games is possible if you get an emulator, such as OpenEmu. While you’re at it, why don’t you use a PS4 controller for more intuitive gameplay?
Choosing the Best Mac Games
The majority of video games have enormous hardware requirements that most Macs won’t be able to run. For instance, you definitely won’t be able to play Gears of War 4 and Civilization VI on your MacBook.
And while yes, a few top-tier Macs will be able to accommodate modern games, the common ones won’t. If you own such a machine and are looking to have an enjoyable game to play, don’t worry. If you choose the right games, it is possible to do so.
The key is not to pick games that require massive graphics and high processors. These will prove to be too taxing for your Mac. Chances are, they won’t even run on your computer. Don’t worry, because, in the next section, we will introduce you to the best Mac games that are guaranteed to match your computer’s specs. To know your computer’s specs, go to the About This Mac section. From there, you’d be able to identify what games are compatible with your computer.
The Best Mac Games
And with that said, here are the best Mac games we highly recommend for every MacBook gamer out there!
Best MMORPG For Mac – World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
Genre – Massively Multiplayer Online RPG
Minimum Mac Specifications:
- OS – OSX 10.12 or higher
- Processor: Intel Core i5 760 or higher
- Memory: 8 GB
- Video: AMD Radeon R9 M290 or Intel HD 530 4W or NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M
- Storage: 70GB
- Connectivity: Broadband internet
The latest installment is arguably the largest MMO franchise in history, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth harkens back to the classic Horde vs. Alliance conflict. Set after the events of the last expansion, Legion, BFA as fans call it gives new “Allied” races to both factions, separate questing zones (pre-max level), new raids, and more. With content patches coming on a regular cycle, it will provide regular gaming hours for any Mac user, at home or on the go.
A large variety of characters and classes – With seven races each in the Horde and the Alliance, plus an additional 4 “Allied” races in BFA, you can pick a character based on your preferred lore. And with 12 classes to choose from, you can craft your characters to your specific playstyle.
New game zones – BFA adds two new main zones in the game, as well as additional zones per patch cycle, ensuring you never run out of places to explore and adventure in.
A large number of quests, dungeons, and raids – whether you’re starting at level 1, or continuing where you left off last expansion, BFA gives scores of quests and adventures to player characters, telling the story of the game with each one. Some even have easter eggs that reference other pop culture icons, video games, and moves.
Compelling story – if you’re a fan of high-fantasy, sword and sorcery genre, then this game is for you. With a nearly 30-year-old history of providing games and lore in the series, Blizzard Entertainment’s next chapter will keep you at the edge of your seats.
Mounts, outfits, and other fun collectibles – whether it’s from questing in-game, solving puzzles and challenges, or directly buying from the game-store, BFA adds a lot of new things. From awesome or quirky mounts to cute pets and toys, it is a collector’s dream game come true.
2. Best Open World Survival Game – Rust
Genre – MMO Open World Action Survival Multiplayer Game
Minimum Mac Specifications:
- OS – OSX 10.7or higher
- Processor: 2Ghz or higher
- Memory: 8 GB or higher
- Video: AMD Radeon HD 7870 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 or higher
- Storage: 10 GB
- Connectivity: Broadband internet
- Multiplayer only
If you’re looking for a challenging world to give you an adrenaline rush, Rust might be the game for you. Set in a world where you start naked with nothing in your possession, you are quickly thrust into the action where everyone fends for themselves. Scavenge for food and water, find weapons, fight off wild animals, and eliminate other players looking to knock you out and take everything you have.
Fortunately, if you survive long enough, you can build your base, join other groups of players or “clans,” and when healthy and large enough, raid other groups. Also, you can craft different types of weapons and structures to fortify your base, sell and trade to other players, or to use for your dreams of wasteland conquest.
Despite having a rocky launch, the game found a niche with players who look to have their wits challenged by other players. And while it can be a tough game to get into as a beginner, surviving and making a name for yourself can be very rewarding.
A harsh world – if you want to experience what it’s like to claw your way up to the top, Rust is for you. You start with literally only rock and torch. What happens next is up to you.
Procedurally generated worlds – each map except one is procedurally generated. This means that no two maps are the same, providing a different gaming experience every time. This makes it much more exciting compared to other games in the genre.
Crafting capabilities – fortunately for players, you’re not stuck with your rock and torch. Live long enough, and you will be able to craft a wide variety of items, construction materials, and more to become self-sufficient.
Food/nutrition system, realistic survival – survival means being able to eat and drink, and stay healthy. If you run out of food, you die. If you go out in the cold rain with no proper clothing, you get hypothermia and could die. If you swim too far out and drown, you die. You get the idea.
Active multiplayer community – for good or bad, the multiplayer community of the game is a thriving one.
3. Best Horror Mac Game – SOMA
Genre: first-person horror survival stealth game
Minimum Mac Specifications:
- OS – OSX 10.9 64-bit
- Processor: Intel Core i5 760 or higher
- Memory: 4 GB
- Video: ATI Radeon HD 5750 or equivalent
- Storage: 25GB
Set in the cold and dark abyss of the ocean, SOMA puts you trapped inside an underwater remote research facility where your primary objective is to stay alive. Why? Because the machines that run the facility have begun behaving like humans. It gives a genuinely horrifying first-person-perspective experience that focuses on stealth, puzzle-solving, and your wits. Oh, and you don’t get any weapons to defend yourself, unlike most games in the genre.
While there is less “action” than most titles, the narrative is a gripping one. You’ll be forced to solve puzzles, unlock clues, read notes, and listen to audiotapes, all while trying to stay alive. If monsters find you, you can die and have to reload, although an update added a “safe mode” that prevents deaths from monsters.
Released to critical acclaim to both critics and players alike, it is one of the best horror games on the Mac today, even years after release.
Gripping horror story – the strength of SOMA lies in its narrative. If it had a feature where your character will move on its own, and you’ll sit back and watch, it will still be a thrilling ride.
Dark setting – literally and figuratively, the bleak location where the game is set will keep your senses alert and heightened. With insane robots, dark and twisted creatures, and corrupted humans in every corner, you will need all your skills to stay alive.
Stealth and puzzles – taking cues from predecessor games like Metal Gear franchise and Amnesia: Dark Descent, SOMA not only emphasizes but needs the player to use stealth. Also, puzzle-solving and clue unlocking are the main ways to progress to the end. It’s not for someone who likes to shoot first, ask questions later, because
No weapons – you can’t fight back against the dangers that are out to get you. Your only defense is to stay alert, stay alive, and survive to the end.
4. Best Pixelated Nostalgia Game – Celeste
Genre: 2D pixel adventure platformer
Minimum Mac Specifications:
- OS – OSX 10.7.5 32 or 64 bit
- Processor: Intel Core i3 530 or higher
- Memory: 2 GB
- Video: NVIDIA GeForce 8200M G
- Storage: 25GB
Take a nostalgic trip back to the 80s and 90s, to the glory days of 8 bit Super Mario brothers in this beautifully crafted tribute to sprites and pixels games. With a solid narrative-driven game, you take control of Madeline on her quest to make it to the top of Celeste Mountain. But it won’t be easy. With over 600 stages of brutal, hardcore challenges that will test your platforming skills, you’ll never run out of new adventures to take.
Similar to the retro games of the past, the controls are relatively simple: jump, air-dash, climb. However, just like those retro games, mastery is the key to success, and it will take many trials and so many more errors even to come close to unlocking the secrets of Celeste Mountain.
Playing the game, especially if you’ve lived through the golden age of video games, will definitely awaken your inner child. Memories of Saturday mornings sitting down with your friends, controller in hand, adventuring through fantastical fictional worlds.
Tons of content and stages – 600+ screens of challenging platform goodness, with different color palettes, themes, and puzzles. These are all handcrafted and tested, so if you find yourself stuck or unable to progress, be patient. You’ll find the way.
Harder mode – the game is challenging enough, but unlock the B-side chapters, and your game will take on a whole new level of difficulty, only for the most daring of adventurers who are willing to take on the mountain’s darker side.
Award-winning soundtrack – the throwback 80s and 90s beats in the over 2 hours of original music is not only fit and suited for the theme of the game but is also suitable for relaxation. With the number of challenges you’ll face, the music is needed.
Our Final Thoughts
So, there you go, dear Mac users. Just because you don’t own a computer as powerful as a PC gaming rig does not mean you can’t have a worthwhile gaming experience. All you need to do is follow our simple tips and tricks and get yourself some of the best Mac games available, and you’ll surely have an enjoyable time.