Is Apple Silicon the end of Windows over Bootcamp? What does it mean for gamers and game developers?
Last year in 2020 Apple released new MacBook and Mac mini models with M1, a brand new ARM-based SoC, replacing completely Intel CPU and integrated GPU, as well as the memory modules that are now integrated into the SoC itself.
This year Apple will likely release new mac models (14" and 16" MacBooks and probably a new iMac) that will only integrate Apple Silicon chips (rumors talk about M1X or M2, doubling power), removing the option of Intel macs forever.
What does that mean for people that use Windows over Bootcamp to use Windows-based software or games?
Of course, Apple will probably still have old Intel-based models available for a while, but we might not see Windows compatibility for a while in Silicon macs.
The decision depends on Microsoft, whether they want to make their ARM-based Windows 10 compatible with the M1 chip or not.
Then they'll have to negotiate with Apple to upgrade Bootcamp in the next macOS versions to support Windows for ARM.
Right now Windows for ARM has some other important limitations: it is only compatible with 32-bit applications, although they're already working on an ARM64 version. Some users made it work on M1 chips via Parallels, but support is far from perfect.
For gamers, it means that even if Windows ends supporting M1 chips and macOS, all the Windows games will also need to be compatible with ARM processors, and here comes the biggest issue: there is still a very little catalog of games compatible with ARM desktop processors. We might see this trend changing in the upcoming years, but support is still in the early stages.
If you are a game developer, you won't have many problems with Silicon macs, because most game development IDEs support or will support soon compiling games for x86/AMD64 CPUs. The only issue would be testing those builds.
If you are thinking about buying a new Apple computer with a Silicon chip for gaming, maybe it's still not a good option. Investing in a dedicated console or a budget PC with a decent graphics card might be a better option right now.
There is an ongoing transition that will probably take some years to become more matured and supported by the app and game developers of both ARM-based macOS and Windows.