Apple’s MetalFX AI scaling technology brings functionality to iOS and macOS devices that even the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S lack. It’s the latest in a series of moves that show the company is still serious about gaming.
MetalFX is an outright game changer
MetalFX is a new part of Apple’s Metal API that makes it easier for Mac and iOS game developers to use the full potential of Apple hardware.
Like NVIDIA’s DLSS and Intel’s XeSS systems, MetalFX uses AI algorithms to improve the resolution of the output frames of video games. So, for example, your Mac’s GPU might render a game at 1080p, but MetalFX works to make it look like 4K while still capturing smoother base-resolution footage.
The ability to use artificial intelligence to strike a good balance between performance and image quality is a key technology in modern games, and adding this to Metal gives game developers the tools to achieve great success on Apple devices.
The first MetalFX games
Headlining games featuring MetalFX that we know of so far are Resident Evil 8 Village, GRID LEGENDSand No Man’s Sky. All three arrive as Apple Silicon games that use MetalFX to improve image quality.
at the time of writing A native village of evil It’s already in the hands of reviewers and has impressed even the most technically scrupulous reviewers. Given that even the humblest Apple Silicon devices can host these games thanks to MetalFX, it removes another reason for game developers to skip Macs.
Related: How to see if an app works on an M1 Mac with Apple Silicon
MetalFX is the cherry on the Apple Gaming Pie
Most people don’t think of Apple as a gaming brand, but the truth is that the company makes more money from video games than the big three game console brands combined. This did not happen by accident. It is the result of a concerted effort to improve the iOS and macOS platforms for gamers and developers.
It’s also easy to forget that Apple was a big deal in the game. Games like Mr and The Prince of Persia The first was Apple’s computer games. Bungie, the company behind the hit Hello franchise, were developers of Mac games, similar to shooters Marathon acts as a precursor Hello. in fact, Hello Originally published for Mac!
After Macs lost their gaming luster, the company worked to build a solid foundation for gaming in its ecosystem, even before MetalFX. A good example of this is how Apple mandated a standard for controller support on its devices. This means that any MFi-certified controller will work with games developed for the standard. Proprietary standards on Android have proliferated, so one game may work with one controller but not another.
Today, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft controllers work seamlessly with Apple products. Apple has its own gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade, and even devices like the humble Apple TV now have GPUs to rival the Xbox One.
Apple Silicon Macs, even the base M1 Air, are also more powerful than previous-generation consoles, compared to the typical gaming PCs used by typical Steam users, where GPUs like the NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti are still widely used.
Having an ecosystem of hardware and software is important, but Apple’s Metal API has brought it all together. It is designed to get maximum performance from this hardware while minimizing overhead. Something known as getting close to “bare metal” hardware. Hence the name!
Play outside of Mac
After all, Apple Macs still have a tiny fraction of the total PC market share. As welcome as the tools and hardware are, why should game developers invest in porting or developing games if the market is so small?
While Macs may have a small share of the laptop and desktop market, mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs represent a larger user base. Metal is integrated into both iOS and macOS. Apple Silicon Macs run the same software code as all other Apple mobile devices.
This means that developers can use Metal and MetalFX to port their games to the huge iPhone and iPad markets and make the Apple Silicon Mac version of that game available without any extra effort. The line between macOS and iOS gets blurrier with each new version of each operating system, and under the hood, the line is almost non-existent.
for example, No Man’s Sky Also coming to iPad models with M1 or M2 chips, full of MetalFX and presumably the same visual settings you’d get on a Mac with the same specs. Apple now has the hardware, software tools, and user install base to gain the interest of mainstream game developers, now only time will tell if they take the bait and make Mac gaming a real option rather than a joke.
Related: 10 Games You Won’t Believe Your M1 or M2 Mac Can Run