Game Devs Express New Fears Over Future of Mac Gaming as Apple Deprecates OpenGL and OpenCL in macOS Mojave

Yesterday at WWDC 2018, Apple revealed macOS Mojave, which is set to bring users a Dark Mode, redesigned Mac App Store, organizable Stacks, streamlined screenshots, and more when it launches wide in the fall. Alongside the new features, Apple has confirmed that it is deprecating OpenGL (Open Graphics Library) and OpenCL (Open Computing Language) in favor of Metal.

This means that apps built using OpenGL and OpenCL will still run in Mojave, but they will no longer be updated after macOS 10.14 launches. Apple encourages games and "graphics-intensive apps" built with OpenGL to adopt Metal ahead of Mojave's launch, and apps that use OpenCL for computational tasks "should now adopt Metal and Metal Performance Shaders."

rise of the tomb raider macos

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration is one of the latest Mac games to run on Metal

Launched four years ago, Metal is Apple's own 3D graphic and programming interface that combines the functions of OpenGL and OpenCL under a singular API. In explaining the move of deprecating the "legacy technologies" of OpenGL and OpenCL, Apple said that "Metal avoids the overhead inherent in legacy technologies and exposes the latest graphics processing functionality" of GPUs found in devices across iOS, macOS, and tvOS.

Although Apple's decision to deprecate the older technology in favor of its own graphics API may not be surprising, some game developers have begun criticizing Apple for the move, particularly how it affects the future of gaming on Mac. Notably, OpenGL is an open-source, cross-platform solution that made it simple for developers to build games on both Mac and PC at the same time, providing some parity to a platform that many have agreed is lacking as a gaming hub.

Since "many games and apps continue to use OpenGL," particularly those that released prior to Metal in 2014, the shift to Metal-focused development is leaving Mac developers worried about any potential to grow as a gaming platform (via PC Gamer). Game developer Sam Loeschen tweeted that he feels "conflicted" about the decision, calling Metal a "really, really good" graphics API but admitting that "this decision alienates macOS further as a gaming platform."

Speaking with PC Gamer, game designer Rami Ismail said that while "it's not doomsday," it appears that Apple is preparing for such an occasion in regards to fully terminating OpenGL/OpenCL on Mac. He explained that for now, "the worst that's going to happen" is that parts of old apps will "break," and pointed out that lacking a single cross-platform graphics API is a "pain" and "not very good for developer confidence" in Apple.

"With deprecation, abandonment can vary from 'soon' to 'never', so until we have information on that, we can't really say," he said. "All we know is Apple seems to have shown intent to rid itself of OpenGL in favor of its own graphics API, Metal. The problem with Metal is very similar to the problem with DirectX: it's not cross-platform.

"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."

More developers and programmers chimed in on the news to PC Gamer, including Alex Austin, who ultimately said that while he likes to develop on Mac to "support fans if I can," he's most likely "not going to spend any time on Metal because Macs are a pretty small percentage of the market and really probably not worth it even now."

Related Roundup: iMac
Buyer's Guide: iMac (Caution)
Related Forums: iMac, macOS Mojave

Top Rated Comments

cube Avatar
48 months ago
You guys are forgetting that Apple is creating a unified program for developing apps on the iOS and macOS. There are many metal games on the iOS that can now easily come over to the Mac.

You've just got to abandon the old school way of thinking how Mac games are made.
Who cares about iOS games for the Mac?
Score: 63 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
48 months ago
Why do some think old technology should be supported forever? At some point you have to cut it loose. If you require it, then don't upgrade. Sorry kids. This is how the world works. Even Honda doesn't support your '84 Civic with new parts like fenders anymore.
The thing is, there's a lot of software out there that is well-supported and being used on Macs right now, that uses OpenGL. A good example is Second Life.

Some developers may decide that it's not worth the effort to port their code to Metal, since Metal is only used by Apple. Thus they will just discontinue Mac support.

We are going to lose software on the Mac platform because of this.
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
casperes1996 Avatar
48 months ago
Why do some think old technology should be supported forever? At some point you have to cut it loose. If you require it, then don't upgrade. Sorry kids. This is how the world works. Even Honda doesn't support your '84 Civic with new parts like fenders anymore.
OpenGL in itself isn't old though. It's just that Apple hasn't updated it past 4.1. But OpenGL keeps getting updated regularly.

Regardless, to tackle the cross-platform API issue, we have MoltenVK. It's not a single API at the backend, but it solves the issue somewhat. And a lot of games use middleware like Unity and Unreal, and they can handle the API calls.
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Naraxus Avatar
48 months ago
When have Macs EVER been good for gaming?
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
maflynn Avatar
48 months ago
So correct me if I'm wrong,
Apple threaten's to abandon a cross platform product that allows developers to write code on multiple platforms in lieu of a propretary solution that only benefits Macs.

While I'll not disagree that Metal may be a better performer, it seems like Apple is not doing the best to court and entice developers. Games on macOS is anemic at best and this may make it worse.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OldSchoolMacGuy Avatar
48 months ago
Why do some think old technology should be supported forever? At some point you have to cut it loose. If you require it, then don't upgrade. Sorry kids. This is how the world works. Even Honda doesn't support your '84 Civic with new parts like fenders anymore.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...