I’ve been thinking a lot about the new MacBook Pro and how it could revolutionise Mac gaming (and gaming in general).
First off, this will be the first MacBook that will support NVidia’s 3D vision. That said, it will only (in theory at least), work with Boot Camp, with a 3D-capable monitor connected by dual-link DVI (using a thunderbolt connector), but maybe it will provide enough incentive for Nvidia to produce a set of Mac drivers.
But perhaps more importantly, the Retina display could provide a massive push forward in how games look. To my knowledge, there’s no commercially available monitor for PCs that boasts a ~3k resolution (2880×1800). And although it has been possible to get a monitor with a maximum resolution of 2560×1600, they tend to be pretty big, so you don’t have the effect of being unable to resolve individual pixels. With the Retina display however, you can’t distinguish between individual pixels, and so the image quality is essentially perfect.
Why is this important? Well for one thing it means antialiasing, in all its various guises, becomes redundant. If you can’t see where one pixel ends and the next begins, you don’t need to worry about them. That means that less processing power is needed for anti-aliasing and becomes available for more useful purposes (admittedly, it’s no small thing to display 3D graphics in real-time at such a high resolution, but we’ll have to wait a while for benchmarks to verify the possibility). It could also mean that gaming on the Mac becomes indistinguishable from looking through a window.
For another thing, it becomes a driving force in an industry that is typically led by consoles and televisions. Given that the maximum resolution of a television is 1920×1080 (which isn’t set to improve for at least a few years), that means the maximum resolution of any gaming console will also be limited to that resolution (and it seems likely that even the “next generation” of consoles will have the same limitations). MacBook Pro users will now have the ability to run games at almost four times that. This isn’t just speculation: Blizzard have already announced plans to make Diablo 3 Retina-compatible.
It’s not just Mac users that will benefit. If there’s one truism about Apple’s innovations, it’s that where they lead, others will follow. How long now before other manufacturers start adopting similar technology into Windows laptops? Then it’s just a small stretch to turn towards making larger desktop displays with invisible pixels. Once we get there, it will be a new era of gaming.