macOS finally gets serious about gaming
Historically, Apple has never really been a gaming-focused company. But with Apple Arcade and the unstoppable success of the mobile App Store, not to mention its own growing CPU and GPU prowess, the company has finally started to lean into games over the last decade. Now with macOS Sonoma’s Game Mode, Apple also has a way to focus its hardware to deliver the best performance possible.
It’s well-timed too, as we’re also seeing recent titles like Lies of P and Resident Evil Village make their way to the App Store. Some Steam offerings, like Tunic, Disco Elysium and Inscryption, also include Mac support. Game Mode won’t magically turn your Mac into a superpowered rig, but it’ll help achieve better framerates and lower latency by prioritizing what you’re playing.
Based on an hour of playing Lies of P on an M2-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro, Game Mode helped to deliver a smooth, console-like experience. The game appeared to be hitting near 60fps while playing with medium settings at a 1,920 by 1,200 resolution, though it occasionally slowed to a 30fps crawl in expansive outdoor environments. Latency with my 8BitDo Ultimate controller felt minimal over Bluetooth, and I was also surprised that the game performed just as well on battery power.
Sonoma’s Game Mode won’t make me an all-Mac gamer anytime soon, but it’s a nice feature to have, especially if you don’t have access to consoles or PCs with beefy GPUs. It would also be nice to see cloud saves for native Mac games that can synchronize with other platforms. (Dead simple cloud saves are a major reason why I lean on Steam as my primary gaming storefront.)
The best screensavers ever
I wasn’t super excited to see macOS Sonoma’s aerial screensavers at first, mostly because I’ve been getting my fill of that lovely drone and helicopter footage since it debuted on the Apple TV in 2015. But in my months with the Sonoma beta, I’ve learned to appreciate them. Occasionally when I’m lost in thought (and probably trying to finish a review), an aerial screensaver will flip on and deliver a calming view of Hong Kong’s cityscape, or the fog over Sonoma Valley. It’s like a free brain massage, something that lifts me out of the daily stress of work, kids and home maintenance.
No matter how many times I see it, I still get a kick out of seeing aerial screensavers slowly pause to a stop and transform into my wallpaper. It’s purely aesthetics, but it’s the sort of thing few companies would spend much time on.