Overwatch has taken the Internet by storm since it was first released back in May 2016 for Windows, PS4 and Xbox One. Developed by Blizzard, the company behind similarly successful games including World of Warcraft, StarCraft and of course, Hearthstone. But what about Mac users? Can we get in on the Overwatch action? While we sit and wait for an announcement from Blizzard regarding a Mac variant, there are other ways to play Overwatch on your Mac – and here is where we explain how.
Disclaimer: We haven’t personally tested these methods of playing Overwatch on a Mac – depending on the specification of your Mac, you may need to run the game at the lowest possible graphics settings and in a small number of cases, it may not be powerful enough to run the game at all.
How to play Overwatch on Mac: Boot Camp
One way to play Overwatch on your Mac is by installing Windows 10 via Boot Camp, and playing the game on the Windows partition. Boot Camp is generally accepted as being the easiest and cheapest way to install Windows (or other OS's, for that matter) on your Mac as it's completely free to use and comes pre-installed in Mac OS X/macOS. Of course you still have to pay for a copy of Windows 10 so it isn't completely free, but you understand what we mean.
There's an issue that many have with Boot Camp, though - you have to restart your Mac and select the start up drive (Windows, Mac, etc) to access the alternate operating system, meaning you can only run one operating system at a time and it can become fairly long-winded if you want to constantly switch between the two.
However, while many see this as a down side to Boot Camp, we disagree - by only running one operating system at a time, your Mac can delegate all its computing power into the current operating system. When compared to virtualisation software that lets you run one operating system within another, it seems like the better option for power-hungry apps and games. However, there are some benefits to virtualisation software, which we will come to below.
Anyway, we digress - once you've got Windows 10 installed via Boot Camp, it should be a case of downloading, installing and playing Overwatch as if it were a normal PC setup - although you may need to bring down the graphics settings for better performance depending on the spec of your Mac.
If you're interested in using Boot Camp to install Windows 10, then you can follow our in-depth how-to right here: How to run Windows on a Mac
How to play Overwatch on Mac: Parallels 12
The newly released Parallels 12 for Mac is another option for Mac users, and enables access to Windows without restarting your Mac. In fact, the beauty of Parallels 12 is that it runs as a standard windowed Mac OS X/macOS app despite powering Windows 10 from within it. However, with extra functionality comes the price tag - it's not free to use like Boot Camp. In fact, Parallels 12 costs £64.99 for Home/Student use, which some may consider to be slightly expensive when you consider you still have to buy a copy of Windows 10, which can cost up to £99 - although our sister site PC Advisor has figured out a way to extract a Windows Product Key from an activated version of Windows, which you can find here: How to extract a Windows Product Key.
The down side to virtualisation software is that it has to power both Mac OS X and Windows at the same time, which could act as a drain on your Mac's resources - especially when gaming. However this shouldn't affect Overwatch players too much, as Parallels claims to have worked with Blizzard, developers of Overwatch, when developing Parallels 12 so it'd run smoothly within the virtualisation software although, as we mention above, it'll also depend on the specs of your Mac.
Once you've installed Parallels 12, simply follow the on-screen instructions to buy and install Windows 10 on your Mac. Once it's installed, simply download Overwatch and enjoy!
How to play Overwatch on Mac: Recommended specs
It's worth bearing in mind that installing Windows on your Mac is only a part of the solution - gamers also need to make sure their Mac matches the minimum requirements for Ovewatch, which can be found below:
- Windows 7/8.1/10
- Intel Core i3 processor
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 460/Radeon HD 4850/Intel HD Graphics 4400
- 4GB RAM
- 30GB storage space
While graphics card requirements can be a bit of an issue for Mac users, as Apple tends not to offer powerful graphics cards in its machines, the minimum spec only requires an Intel HD Graphics 4400. To compare, the current MacBook Pro boasts Intel Iris Graphics 6100, which should be powerful enough to power Overwatch, although we'd recommend checking your Mac's spec before installing Windows and trying to play the game.
However if your graphics card isn't up to scratch, don't think about buying one and upgrading your Mac yourself. Due to Apple not including AMD or Nvidia graphics cards in its current line up, and the fact that Apple has made it nearly impossible to upgrade Macs yourself, the companies never developed drivers for Mac OS X. This means that even if you did manage to somehow install a new graphics card on your current Mac, chances are you still wouldn't be able to use it.