Update August 17, 2016: While official Mac support for Overwatch is still not on the cards, the new version of the Parallels software will support it.
There hasn’t been official word on an OSX version of Overwatch, but there is now a way to get it working. The virtual machine making Parallels now supports the game, the engineering team there having been in direct contact with Blizzard to get it going. The latest version enabled this and came out today for previous subscribers, launching on August 23 for general availability.
Overwatch’s loot boxes explained in our dedicated article.
First: the bad news. Parallels costs, and it ain’t exactly cheap. The default version is $79.99 / £64.99, plus you’ll need a legit version of Windows for it to run. It’s a virtual machine, so you won’t have to go through the hassle of dual booting, but it doesn’t get you around having to own a compatible OS. A copy of Windows 10, plus the game itself and you’re looking at serious money. But: it does work. In fact, here’s a video of it running:
This was achieved through a partnership with Blizzard by the Parallels team. Realising that Overwatch had now sold 15 million copies and seeing it as one of the most-requested programs to get running from their users, they called up big blue and got in contact with their engineers. Together they worked through problems - like, for example, there being absolutely no hair on characters when they started - and got it to a better place. It’s not official Mac support, but it seems to be as close as we’re going to get for now.
Parallels say that "collaborating with the engineers from Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch enabled Parallels Desktop 12 for Mac engineers to make changes in its code so there are less graphics artifacts, texture glitches and skittering, as well as make the game run a little faster."
The entire point of Parallels is to make Windows programs run in a way that seems native to OSX. It also has a huge batch of other tools built in, and will run all sorts of Windows programs if you’re interested in more than just Overwatch. I used it at a customer service job once, and it’s one of the few parts of that experience that wasn’t totally awful.
If you’re in for all that, you can head over to the Parallels Desktop site and get downloading. 14-day free trials of Parallels 12 will be available from August 23, when it releases publically. Here’s their ad reel:
Original story, February 22 2016: Blizzard has had a long history of supporting Mac gaming, so to hear during Blizzcon that Overwatch was only coming to Windows, PS4 and Xbox One on launch and that there were no current plans for a Mac version was surprising and disappointing. I put the question to game director Jeff Kaplan in our interview - why now, on their most anticipated game in years, does Blizzard drop Mac support?
“It was a result of not having all the technological support we needed to make the game viable on Mac systems.” says Kaplan, referring to Apple’s policies with OSX. “We have a real love and dedication for Mac players, they’ve been extremely loyal to us and we love giving them Blizzard games.
“But when dealing with the PC, the Xbox One and the PS4 - all of which are extremely welcoming to the technological needs to run a next-generation shooter - in a lot of ways we felt left behind, that we weren’t given the support we needed to make a great product on the Mac.”
For those who might not be aware, graphics technology on OSX is pretty far behind - to the point that while the OS is more optimised for Mac hardware, dual-booting into Windows and running games on that is often a better solution. A Macbook which has no struggles whatsoever with a game in Windows can chug and require lowering settings while in OSX. At least that’s been my personal experience, and it just doesn’t have the driver support from Nvidia and AMD that Windows does.
Kaplan does think this could change in the future, but feels Apple aren’t currently doing enough to make companies want to develop for Mac - especially in comparison to their peers.
“There has to be a joint enthusiasm to really achieve success like that. The enthusiasm that comes out of Microsoft and Sony to have us on their platforms is overwhelming and we’re so appreciative of it.
“I think Apple’s an amazing company” he continues, saying that those who want Overwatch on Mac need to make that clear to Apple, “and I hope, I really hope Mac players are vocal back to Apple that Mac gaming is extremely important and should be extremely important. I can only guess how important things like iPhone and other products are to a company like that - but I think Mac gaming should have equal importance.”