Steam: This is how you can keep playing 32-bit games on your Mac

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It can’t have escaped your notice: a new version of macOS was released last fall. In October, macOS Catalina came out, with a lot of new features. But there were also some things that we had to say goodbye to. For example, Catalina no longer supports 32-bit apps. And that turned out to be an unpleasant surprise for, among others, people who play games via the game platform Steam.

Outdated apps need to be updated

Apple has been moving from 32 to 64 bit for years. Recent Macs have a 64-bit processor that works best with 64-bit apps. Apple strives for an optimal user experience and since Catalina, you can no longer start outdated 32-bit apps at all. You will then receive an error message stating that the developer of the app must provide an update. If an app has not yet been updated, Apple recommends that you contact the developer.

Steam has been updated, but…

Steam, a long-time 32-bit app, has answered the call to update and a 64-bit version of Steam is now available. That is quite a relief for most users. The average gamer is devoted to his or her Steam collection, which is often built up over several years. Gamers active on Steam often purchase all their games through the platform. The disadvantage of this is that all purchases, from a simple blackjack game till the latest releases, are immediately unreachable in case of problems with Steam.

You can of course fill ‘steamless’ days with endless scrolling on Facebook or binging a new Netflix series. If you still want to game without Steam, then your options are unfortunately limited to in-browser games. A simple card game or board game can’t be compared with an online deathmatch in Halo … Now there is now a 64-bit version available, so all’s well that ends well? Not quite. Steam itself may by now be 64-bit; this may not apply to all individual games in the Steam library. The 32-bit apps are still accessible, but if you run Catalina you can no longer play them on your Mac. It is therefore possible that your relatively smaller games no longer work. What now?

Steam: keep playing 32-bit games

For some, Steam Play offers a good solution, because you can also play your games on Windows or Linux. But maybe you just want to keep playing on your Mac, or you don’t have another computer at all. If you’ve already updated to macOS Catalina, there are several options to keep the 32-bit games running. We name a few:

  • A virtual machine allows you to run Windows on your Mac. Or, if you’re Apple minded, an older version of macOS. A nice but somewhat pricey program to do this is Parallels Desktop.
  • There is another way to take advantage of 32-bit apps in macOS Catalina. This option is free but a bit more laborious: create a shielded APFS volume on your Mac running macOS Mojave. If you want to open a 32-bit app, first switch to Mojave.
  • You can install Windows on any Mac through the Boot Camp utility – you’ll need to purchase Windows.
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