If you’re new to developing games for Apple platforms, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the tools and technologies you need to get started. Apple provides the hardware, graphics, audio, social-gaming, and development and distribution tools you need to create the next generation of games on Apple platforms.
What you can do
Apple SDKs provide everything you need to create amazing games for all Apple platforms. The SDKs include APIs for everything from powerful GPU-accelerated graphics to game controller integration, and even immersive spatial audio.
Create high-performance adventure, racing, and action games
Build action-packed games that immerse players using hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, haptic and sound feedback, and spatial audio. Support popular game controllers, racing wheels, and device-specific touch and motion.
Create puzzle and strategy games
Assemble your interface from standard controls, draw your own 2D views, and perform hardware-accelerated animations. Offload large data sets and computation to the GPU.
Create multiplayer games
Add matchmaking, finding friends, voice chat, and other social-gaming features with Game Center. Encourage competition using leaderboards, achievements, and challenges. Let players start your game with family and friends over FaceTime using SharePlay.
Blend the virtual with the real world
In visionOS, combine your game’s graphics and Spatial Audio with the player’s real world in a 3D space and adapt it to the level of immersion the player chooses. Fly spaceships through a hole in the wall or project your 2D board game on the player’s desk.
Run well on all devices
Save your game data in iCloud so players can continue playing on any Apple device. Adapt your iOS game to run in iPadOS and macOS too. Easily share code between different Apple platform versions of your game.
Where to start
Game development with Apple technologies starts with Xcode, Apple’s integrated development environment, which includes code editors, debugging tools, device simulators, graphics performance and analysis tools, and platform SDKs.
Great games incorporate the unique characteristics and capabilities of the devices that they run on. Consider that the player may be traveling, sitting at their desk, relaxing on the couch, or standing in their living room while playing your game. Let players interact with your game using Multi-Touch gestures and voice control when possible. Take advantage of high-resolution displays, Apple silicon, external game controllers, headphones, and speakers. In visionOS, allow for passthrough, adapt audio to the player’s surroundings, handle touch events, and add custom gestures. For platform-specific design guidance, see Human Interface Guidelines > Platforms.
Create gorgeous graphics
Use Metal to get the best graphics performance out of the player’s powerful Apple hardware. Metal provides a low-level API for hardware-accelerated 2D and 3D graphics on all Apple platforms, as well as powerful features designed especially for Apple silicon.
Submit work to the GPU. To execute commands on the device’s graphics processing unit (GPU), create a command buffer, write commands into it, and commit the buffer to a command queue. To learn more, see GPU Devices and Work Submissions.
Stream assets to the GPU. Load graphics resources faster by streaming asset data to textures and buffers asynchronously. To learn more, see Resource Loading.
Accelerate performance with upscaling. Improve performance of your 3D scenes using high-performance temporal antialiasing or spatial upscaling. Use the MetalFX framework to upscale low-resolution images to higher-resolution images in less time than directly rendering an image.
Use shaders tuned for each GPU family. Use the Metal Performance Shaders framework to apply high-performance filters to images, multiply matrices, and vectors.
Debug and profile your game. Use Metal debugger to investigate visual artifacts and optimize GPU performance. Capture your Metal workload and use the Performance timeline to explore GPU execution performance. Use shader debugger to investigate visual artifacts on a capture of your Metal workload.
Fix graphics interruptions or stutters. To analyze slowness in your game’s frame rate, use the Game Performance template in Instruments, which combines threading and system call information with the Metal System Trace instrument. To learn more, see Analyzing the performance of your Metal app.
Integrate spatial audio into scenes. Use the PHASE (Physical Audio Spatialization Engine) framework to create a more realistic and immersive audio experience that reacts in real time to events and scenes in your game. PHASE provides a consistent spatial audio experience across platforms and output devices, such as headphones and speakers.
Add haptic feedback
On iPhone and Apple TV, engage players physically by combining tactile and audio feedback using Core Haptics. To get the player’s attention and reinforce actions, build custom haptic patterns from events that can be transient, like toggling a switch, or continuous, like the vibration and sound of a ringtone. To provide haptic feedback through game controllers, see Support input devices below.
Support input devices
Let players interact with your game in more natural ways using the Game Controller framework.
Support third-party gamepads, arcade sticks, and racing wheels, as well as the mouse and keyboard.
Overlay a virtual controller on mobile devices to emulate a physical controller.
Update your CPU thread priorities. In addition to using POSIX thread priorities and scheduling policies, use Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) to manage thread scheduling and keep the system responsive, and Quality of Service (QoS) to attach semantics to threads. To learn more, see Tuning Your Code’s Performance for Apple silicon.
Accelerate performance with Neon. The Neon instruction set provides single instruction multiple data (SIMD) operations to accelerate performance on ARM processors. To use open source Neon libraries on Apple platforms, see SSE2Neon and AVX2Neon.
Consider how to modify your code to create a great, immersive, experience on visionOS.
Integrate virtual objects into the real world
Use RealityKit to create virtual objects that blend realistically with the surrounding real-world objects.
In the Shared Space, RealityKit applies the real world lighting of the player’s room to your objects. RealityKit applies other effects to make virtual objects more realistic, such as depth mitigation, near-field vignetting fades, passthrough, and grounding shadows when virtual objects are near real objects.
You can use the built-in physical-based-rendering (PBR) shaders or create custom ones that you edit in Reality Composer Pro. You can also apply your own custom lighting effects. To learn more, watch Meet Reality Composer Pro.
Render scenes in an infinite 3D space
You provide the models, textures, and shaders to the device that renders it for each eye. For fully immersive games that take the player to a different place, use RealityKit, SwiftUI, and ARKit.
To adapt 2D games to the 3D space, consider adding a parallax effect by rendering objects in separate layers, and have elements come out of the plane, such as smoke or sparks. To learn more, watch Design for spatial user interfaces.
To anchor your content to the real world including the player’s hands, use RealityView.
To create custom gestures using the player’s hands, use ARKit to track the hands and get a virtual mesh of the room. Use ARKit to find horizontal and vertical surfaces, and even get their materials, such as carpet or wood. To learn more, watch Design for spatial input and Meet ARKit for spatial computing.
For traditional games, the player can use a game controller or keyboard when running in a Full Space, because passthrough allows the player to see the device they’re holding.
Bring your games to visionOS
Existing iPad and iPhone games automatically run on the device in a window using indirect and direct gestures. To add stereoscopic and take full advantage of the device features, such as gesture input and effects to enhance 2D games in a 3D space, design your game for spatial computing using RealityKit.
Use C++ for Metal. If you have existing C++ code, you can continue using it with Metal. Metal-cpp allows you to access the Metal API from C++ without having to use separate Objective-C or Swift files. To learn more, see Getting started with Metal-cpp.
Convert game assets. If you have Windows asset creation pipelines, use the Metal Developer Tools for Windows to move your assets to Apple platforms. Use the Metal compiler to compile graphics and compute shaders, and the texture converter to convert textures to formats that Metal supports.
Build a social network
Take advantage of the services Apple provides for social gaming and storing game data using Game Center. Let Apple help promote your game organically through players sharing and interacting with each other.
Grow discovery and engagement.Enable Game Center, Apple’s social-gaming network, to help new players discover your game on the App Store and through friends — and keep the enjoyment going for existing players.
Motivate players and encourage competition. To increase enjoyment and promote your game through friend activities, add Game Center social-gaming features using the GameKit framework.
Keep players engaged using achievements, leaderboards, and challenges.
Let players view their Game Center activity and invite friends to play within your game.
Access the player’s friends list to create new ways for friends to interact in your game.
Save game and player data. Allow players to continue playing your game from multiple devices by saving the game data to their iCloud account using GameKit or CloudKit. In addition, save game data in your game’s private or public iCloud containers that all players can access.
Provide a familiar multiplayer experience. It’s easy to add multiplayer features using GameKit's matchmaking and communication APIs.
Present interfaces to match players with other players and start your game quickly.
Capture and replay game content. Add a screen-sharing or game-streaming feature to your macOS game using the ScreenCaptureKit framework. ScreenCaptureKit records video and audio of the windows, apps, and displays that you specify with minimal CPU and GPU overhead.
Distribute your game
The App Store lets you easily distribute your game to hundreds of millions of people around the world on all Apple platforms. The App Store processes customer payments, provides secure and reliable downloads, manages releases, and helps promote your game.
Distribute your game through the App Store. Join the Apple Developer Program and then upload builds using Xcode. Use App Store Connect to configure game-oriented features, distribute your game for beta testing, and submit builds to App Review.
Help customers discover your game.Create your product page on the App Store with app previews, screenshots, and a description that gets players excited about your game.
Make your macOS game available on Apple silicon only. To target your game exclusively to Macs with an M1 chip or later, see the “Apple silicon-only apps” section of Submit your apps to the Mac App Store.
Notarize your macOS game. To give players confidence that your macOS game distributed outside the Mac App Store is from you and has been checked for known malicious components, notarize your macOS game before distribution using Xcode or the notarytool command-line tool.
Protect the integrity of your game. Enable the Hardened Runtime capability and select options to prevent against malicious code injection, dynamic library hijacking, and process memory space tampering.
If you’re working on a groundbreaking, unreleased game and would like Apple to consider it for the Apple Arcade game subscription service, we'd love to hear from you.