Mac computers have always been praised as being great machines for work productivity, but they always fall behind when it comes to gaming. While PCs generally allow you to play some games from PlayStation and Xbox, it’s a little more difficult for Macs. Thankfully, there are a few ways around this, and we’ve compiled them below.
Preparing Your Mac For Console Gaming
Before you follow any of the methods we’ve touched on below and start playing games on your Mac, it’s a good idea to prepare your computer first. One of the most important things you should do is perform a clean-up of the computer to save on storage and keep your Mac healthy.
There are several ways you can clean up your Mac, and doing so will prevent your Mac from being slow. To fix it and get it ready for gaming, you can delete your Mac’s cache files, update your Mac’s operating system, remove apps you no longer use, reduce startup times, sort through your folders for unused files, or simply find downloadable programs that handle all of these duties for you. If you’re unsure about deleting some files, you can always save them to an external hard drive or USB stick for safekeeping.
In addition to making sure your Mac is in tip-top shape, you’re also going to want to have all of the required hardware to play games. So, if you’re playing PlayStation games, makes sure you have a DualShock 4 or DualSense controller for PS4 and PS5 games, and for Xbox, make sure you have either an Xbox One or Xbox Series controller to use. If you don’t have any of these controllers, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to play these games.
PlayStation Games On Mac
PlayStation is celebrated for its first-party, narrative-driven video games, both retro and modern. However, the problem with PlayStation is that most of its games are locked to the PlayStation ecosystem. Thankfully, Sony has slowly been rolling out some of its more successful, modern-day titles to PC, but those can’t be accessed on Mac easily. And if you’re thinking of trying out some of PlayStation’s retro titles, the answer is the same. Thankfully, there are a few ways around that.
Run Windows On Your Mac
There are two main ways of playing modern PlayStation games without a PlayStation console; purchasing the PC-published games on Steam or getting a subscription with PlayStation’s PS Now streaming service. Since both methods are only available on PCs, you’re going to need to install Windows on your Mac.
To do this, you’re going to need to partition your Mac’s hard drive, which takes up a significant chunk of your computer’s storage as it’ll effectively run a Windows computer with its own storage space. However, doing so will allow you to purchase and play any PlayStation Studios game on Steam or install the PS Now streaming application of which a subscription to the service is required.
Installing Windows on your Mac is relatively easy, all you need to do is download a valid copy of Windows 10 or 11 and then run the Boot Camp Assistant application on any Intel Mac and follow the on-screen instructions. Just make sure you’ve cleaned up enough of your Mac’s storage to install Windows.
If you’re on an M1 Mac, you unfortunately won’t be able to install Windows on your machine via Boot Camp. Instead, you’ll have to use Parallels 17, which allows you to run Windows virtually on your computer – this is also a great alternative for someone that doesn’t want to sacrifice their computer’s storage space or go through the hassle of installing Windows directly. However, we have to point out that some games may not be compatible with virtual Windows software, and you’ll generally get better performance by installing and running Windows directly.
PS Remote App
However, if you do have a PlayStation console, you can access your PlayStation games by downloading the PS Remote App for Mac computers, including M1 machines. This app will allow you to stream your gameplay to your Mac with it acting as an alternative monitor – a great option if someone else wants to take over the TV for a bit! Again, you’ll need a PlayStation console close by and connected to the same internet connection the Mac is.
Playing Xbox Games On Your Mac
Playing Xbox games on your Mac is somewhat easier thanks to Microsoft’s Game Pass service. The subscription service provides you with access to a rotating selection of PC and Xbox games from numerous publishers, including EA. Game Pass has several levels, including Ultimate, which provides users with access to Xbox Cloud Gaming, through which you’ll be able to stream a curated selection of Xbox and PC games.
Xbox Cloud Gaming Via Game Pass In Internet Browsers
Since there is no official MacOS app for Game Pass or Xbox Cloud Gaming, one of the only ways you’re going to play Xbox games is with an Ultimate Game Pass subscription and loading the Xbox Cloud Gaming service through an internet browser on your Mac. Through the internet browser, you’ll be able to stream Xbox and PC games. This is a great option for someone who doesn’t necessarily have a powerful Mac, since the game isn’t being run directly on your computer. All you need is an Xbox controller and a fast internet connection.
We should also point out that you can install Windows or run Windows virtually to access Xbox games, just like with PlayStation titles as described above. However, running Xbox Cloud Gaming is a much easier solution.
PlayStation And Xbox Emulation
If you’re looking to play retro games, you can look at emulation as an option. Emulating games is somewhat of a murky area, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of people from emulating content.
There are two main PlayStation emulators available for Macs; PCSX and PCSX2 that allow you to play PS1 games and PS2 titles, along with numerous options to improve the original games’ visuals and performance. For Xbox fans, you can use Xemu, which emulates the original Xbox console and allows you to play its games. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be an emulator for the Xbox 360, and everything released after that is still too modern.
However, it’s important to note that not all games will be compatible with the above emulators. In fact, most emulators will have a curated list of games that work without a problem, a selection of games that may have issues when emulated, and a few games that cannot be emulated at all. Usually, this won’t be too much of an issue as a majority of games can be emulated without problems.
Gaming On Macs
While Mac computers generally come out as incredibly powerful machines, they’ve always had trouble with games. There is a selection of older games available via the Mac App Store and there are several games compatible with Macs in Steam or other game stores. However, the majority of games aren’t compatible with Mac computers and you’re either going to need to try some of the methods we’ve mentioned here or simply purchase a PC designed for gaming.
It’s unfortunate, and we hope Apple and game publishers eventually change their stance on this and finally open Macs to the wider video game industry.