Google+ Tips & Tricks Blog: Run Windows Game on Mac without Boot Camp

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Run Windows Game on Mac without Boot Camp

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How To Run Almost Any Windows Game On Your Mac Without Boot Camp Or Parallels Using Wine [Feature]

PC games: they can be the bane of a Mac gamer’s existence. The Mac may be a better computer than a windows box, but even so, most games don’t support OS X. Even on Steam, the leader in cross-platform computer game support, most games run only on Windows. The reasons for this are manifold, including mid-level integrated graphics chips and less customizable hardware, but it shouldn’t be this disparate.

There are a few options for running those PC games on Macs, of course. There’s Boot Camp, which allows you to run a full copy of Windows right on your Intel-based Mac, but it requires a reboot to switch between OS X and Windows environments, which can be tedious. There are emulators you can buy, like Parallels and VMWare Fusion, but these never quite pan out, in my experience, as they always seem to be fraught with issues when connecting peripherals, mice, etc. They also cost a bit, and require a full copy of Windows, which will run you some money, too.

I just want a way to play a game that is created for the Windows operating system on my Mac, without a reboot, without buying a new program or new copy of an operating system I really don’t want to use.

Luckily, there’s a way to do just that.

What Is Wine?

How To Run Almost Any Windows Game On Your Mac Without Boot Camp Or Parallels Using Wine [Feature]Seriously, that’s the self-referencing recursive acronym for Wine. Get it? So clever, those open source folks.

Wine actually runs as more of a translator between the instructions in the PC program and the Mac operating system. It basically fools Windows into thinking they are running in a Windows environment, without actually emulating that environment (and taking the same performance hit) like Parallels does. Wine has the benefit of a large, open-source community for support as well, which means it will continue to get better and improve compatibility for a lot of games along the way.

Speaking of compatibility, not all PC games are going to work with Wine. To find out if the game you want to try to install on your Mac via Wine will work, head over to the Wine HQ website, where they have an entire database full of the games and applications that will work with Wine. They even have levels of how well these work with Wine, including Platinum, Gold, and Silver levels of compatibility.

I chose Guild Wars: it’s a game that has gone free to play lately, is Windows-only for now, and it is listed in the Platinum compatibility list on the Wine HQ site. All the examples from here on out will be from my own experience installing Wine to play Guild Wars on my Mac Mini 2011.

Once you head over there and pick a game, you’ll be ready to make sure you have what you need to run Wine.

What You’ll Need

How To Run Almost Any Windows Game On Your Mac Without Boot Camp Or Parallels Using Wine [Feature]First up, you’re gonna need an Intel Mac. If you’re still running a Power-PC Mac, a) it’s time to upgrade and b) this isn’t going to work. To find out what kind of Mac you have, click on the Apple menu in the upper left corner of your screen, choose About This Mac, and it will tell you. Honestly, though, if you don’t know what kind of Mac you’re running, you might have a bit of trouble with the following instructions, which assume you have access to your admin account and password, can install XCode, and have the latest Java Development package (it comes as default with Mac OS X 10.7 and up).

You’ll also need the X11 app, which used to be a standard install app starting in OS X 10.5, but which has recently been removed from OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. If you’re running 10.8, head over to the XQuartz web page to download an open source version of X11 for Mountain Lion. Install it as you would any other package file.

You’ll also need to be comfortable using the command line via the Terminal app, an internet connection, and a couple of hours to work through all the steps involved. It’s not rocket science, but there is a certain level of patience that will be needed.

Install XCode & MacPorts

How To Run Almost Any Windows Game On Your Mac Without Boot Camp Or Parallels Using Wine [Feature]
If you’re running Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard above, XCode is available in the Mac App Store. If you’re still using OS X 10.5 Leopard (why?), you’ll need to install Xcode from one of the System Install DVDs that came with your Mac. I’m going to assume you’re using either Lion or Mountain Lion for the rest of this article, and just point you to the Mac App Store. Be warned, though: XCode is a 1.6GB  download, so it may take a while depending on your internet connection speed.

Once XCode is downloaded and installed, launch it and go to the Preferences. Click on the Downloadstab and then install the “Command Line Tools.” If you’re running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, copy and paste the following into a Terminal session (Terminal can be found in Applications > Utilities) to avoid some heartache later:

sudo xcodebuild -license

You’ll need to type in your admin password here, as well.

Then quit Terminal, and head to the MacPorts website. Once there, click on the link for your particular version of OS X. I grabbed MacPorts for OS X Mountain Lion, but there are links for Lion and Snow Leopard as well. Launch the package installer and follow the directions, including entering your admin password again. Next, you’ll need to configure MacPorts using the command line, so launch Terminal.

Copy and paste the following into your Terminal window (you’ll need to type in your password again after you hit enter on the keyboard):

echo export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:\$PATH$'\n'export MANPATH=/opt/local/man:\$MANPATH | sudo tee -a /etc/profile

After that process finishes, copy and paste the next line:

if [ `sysctl -n hw.cpu64bit_capable` -eq 1 ] ; then echo "+universal" | sudo tee -a /opt/local/etc/macports/variants.conf; else echo "not 64bit capable"; fi

If your Mac is 64-bit capable, you’ll get +universal as a result. If not, you’ll get not 64 bit capable. Either result is fine; MacPorts is just figuring out what to do for your particular machine. computers should show +universal if you have a 64Bit Mac. If not, it will show “not 64bit capable” which is fine – it’s just showing MacPorts what kind of Mac you have.

Close the Terminal window, and open a new one.

Install Wine

How To Run Almost Any Windows Game On Your Mac Without Boot Camp Or Parallels Using Wine [Feature]
Copy and paste the following text into your newly opened Terminal window:

sudo port install wine

MacPorts will start chugging away, finding all the magic source code that is required to build up a functioning copy of Wine for your specific Macintosh. This will probably take some time, so go get a soda while you wait. Unless it’s later and you’re of drinking age in your local area; in which case, grab a beer or two. This could be a while.

Download and Install Your Game

How To Run Almost Any Windows Game On Your Mac Without Boot Camp Or Parallels Using Wine [Feature]I headed over to the GuildWars website and downloaded the latest .exe file there to install on my Mac. Your game will probably be on another website, or be on CD. Head there, and download the file, making note of the place you save the file.

Head back into Terminal, and type cd /locationOfDownloadedFile, where that last bit is actually the place you put your game file. I put mine in ~/Downloads/, but your download location will be unique to you. If in doubt, you can drag the Finder window where your file is located on top of Terminal to instantly get the correct path.

Once you’re in the proper directory in Terminal, run the installer via your Wine install by typing in the following command:

wine INSTALLER.exe

Of course, the INSTALLER bit will be different for you. For GuildWars, the setup file is called GwSetup.exe. So, I typed in:

cd ~/Downloads/GwSetup.exe
wine GwSetup.exe

X11 (you did download XQuartz and install it if you’re running Mountain Lion, right?) then opens up, and you’ll see a standard Windows installer, just like magic. Click on through the installation prompts, and boom, you’re ready to go.

Run, Game, Run

Now, to get your game up and actually running, you’ll need to launch Terminal one final time. Type the following into Terminal to get to your Program Files folder:

cd ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/

Then type


This should show you the name of the game you installed; head into the folder with a cd command. In that game folder should (finally) be a file that starts the game, ending in .exe – this is your game file. Type the following into Terminal to get it running:

wine PROGRAM.exe

Be sure to replace PROGRAM with your game startup file. You should now be playing that PC game right on your Mac, sans emulation. Whoopee! Let us know what game you got to run this way in the comments. Thumbs up

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