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MacOS's 32-bit-breaking Catalina update is live, wreaking havoc on classic game collections

Well, it’s finally happened. On Monday, Apple released the feared MacOS “Catalina” update, killing compatibility for dozens of 32-bit games. From this week onwards, updated Macs just flat out won’t run ’em. In the constant churn of developing newer, faster, and sleeker operating systems, the Mac makers have given curators of older games a simple choice: put in the work to bring your games up to speed, or we’re leaving them behind.

For some publishers, updating countless classics simply isn’t worth the effort, leaving many 32-bit hits in the ground for good.

While not one of the MacOS Catalina update’s advertised features, Monday’s update 10.15 removes support for 32-bit apps and games. If it’s not been updated to a 64-bit framework, it won’t launch on the updated OS. Simple as that.

Even big hitters from Valve’s push into Mac gaming aren’t safe. Both Portal games, Team Fortress 2, and others find themselves left behind by the Catalina update. At the very least, Valve tend to get on top of fixing issues that outright stop games from running. But it’s a quiet shame for games that helped push Steam’s presence on Mac, boosting the wider Mac gaming scene as a result.

Prolific Mac porting house Aspyr have shortlisted several games for 64-bit updates, including The Sims 2, Civilisation V, and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. But if an Aspyr-published game’s not on the list, the company lament that it won’t run on an updated Mac.

Feral Interactive, similarly, have updated their ports of two Total War games – Shogun 2 and Fall Of The Samurai, as well as Tomb Raider, Batman: Arkham City, and Sid Meier’s Railroads. But like Aspyr, they’ve discontinued support for several other Mac ports in their catalogue, including a bunch of Lego and Sega staples.

Some developers simply don’t have the option to update their old games. Small indie RPG creators Soldak Entertainment have scrapped Mac releases entirely, citing a number of knock-on complications that would make 64-bit updates unfeasible for a team like theirs.

Like many small creators, the smaller share of Mac revenue just isn’t enough for Soldak to justify sinking resources into demanding version updates.

MacGamerHQ have compiled a list of the compatibility status of dozens of 32-bit games. I wouldn’t take their rundown as definitive, but it seems like a solid jumping-off point if you’re concerned about an old game running on your newly-updated MacOS setup.

Mac’s Monday update wasn’t all doom and gloom. Updating to Catalina will grant you access to all those lovely Apple Arcade titles on your desktop. While a bunch of these came out on Steam, consoles or handhelds, many – like the absolutely stellar Sayonara Wild Hearts – haven’t seen a release on home computer platforms.

Apple Arcade is their take on subscription services like Xbox Game Pass or Origin Access – a whole heap of games to download and toy around with for £5/$5 a month. Apple are looking to fill out the service with over 100 games in the coming weeks.

Technology becomes obsolete, things become broken, and we’ll all eventually rot in the ground. Such is the way of time. It’s just a bit rubbish when it takes some awful nice games from a platform with it.

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Natalie Clayton

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Owns a Steel Battalion controller, is not afraid to use it. Occasional news rascal.

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