Brianna wu explains why you might want to hold off upgrading to mac OS High Sierra for a while if you play games
Brianna Wu on faltering games in High Sierra.
Dedicated gamers and game developers might want to hold off on upgrading to High Sierra for the time being. As mac OS moves to the new Apple File System (APFS) and other new underlying tech, some software is reportedly breaking.
The announcement of APFS was very welcome news at WWDC 2016. After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the FBI wanted Apple to engineer a backdoor into iOS for the government – a move that was widely critiqued across the political spectrum. It was suspected that Apple would respond by making its devices and the data stored on them even more secure.
Protecting data is a big feature of APFS. The new file system provides a level of encryption so strong that Apple couldn’t access your data even if ordered to by a court. It stores the data with built-in encryption, making the information meaningless to someone without a key to unlock it. At the highest level of security, it supports multi-key encryption - making both the files and the metadata for the them impossible to read. APFS also introduces other optimizations for flash storage.
While the move to this new file system will be highly beneficial in the long run, it may be breaking games in the short term. Unity is one of the most popular game engines in the world, used in countless iOS and mac OS games including Hearthstone, Lara Croft Go, and Firewatch. Reports are coming in that after upgrading to High Sierra, many Unity games are
becoming unplayable – including the popular Cities: Skylines.
The problems go beyond Unity. While engineers are still studying bug reports, early signs seem to suggest that Valve’s Source engine is also negatively affected by High Sierra. Some of the best Mac games use it, including Portal, Team Fortress 2, and Counter-Strike.
Additionally, some of the tools used by game developers also seem to be affected. Illustrator is heavily used by many app developers to make iconography and interface elements. But, the most current version of it has issues when running on High Sierra. Another Adobe pro app, In Design, was recently patched – but the stability of the Creative Cloud suite is such that you may want to stick with your old system for now.
These kinds of errors are unsurprising, given the ambitious nature of changes in High Sierra, not least APFS. Adobe software is known for its use of anti-piracy measures. With Apple making changes to so much underlying tech, these kinds of problem may well have been inevitable.
There’s good news for some Mac owners, though – that is, if you’re running a desktop Mac in which the startup disk is a plain hard drive or a Fusion Drive; with either of those kinds of storage, you’ll be unaffected by issues that result from APFS. That’s because High Sierra doesn’t force those types of storage to switch to using the new file system. (Apple has said that an update to enable APFS on Fusion Drives will be introduced at a later date, though.)
However, if your Mac has a pure SSD as its internal startup disk, the mac OS volume is automatically converted; you should steer clear of High Sierra until you know your essential apps will run. Almost all models of MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook from the past five years have an SSD.
It’s worth noting that the scope of these issues is unusual for a mac OS release. In general, you should aggressively update your Mac and iOS devices. Apple is good about patching security holes in its products, but such safeguards can’t work if you don’t install them. My guess is we’ll see issues with APFS and graphical glitches addressed within a few months.
There’s good news if your Mac’s startup disk is a plain hard drive or a Fusion Drive
Cities: Skylines suffers glitches in High Sierra.
Mac Gamer HQ reports disabling the Brave New World and Gods & Kings add-ons fixes Civ V.
Performance is said to degrade in games which use Valve’s Source engine, such as Half-Life 2.