Unreal Engine 5 gets native Apple silicon support for Macs, iPads and iPhones

Unreal Engine 5.2 on iPad Pro
(Image credit: iMore)

Epic Games has updated its Unreal gaming engine for developers, with it now natively supporting Apple silicon, such as the A15 Bionic and M2 Pro chips that you can find in iPads, Macs and iPhones.

The engine allows developers to create worlds and characters with pre-made tools that can eventually turn into a game that you can play on a console or Mac/PC. Epic Games' Unreal Engine has been one of the most well-established engines for decades, launching with first person shooter Unreal in 1998 and still to this day with the upcoming Tekken 8 fighter. It's what powers the ever-popular Fortnite, too.

Developers have been able to use Unreal Engine on a Mac for a while, but it's been available under the Rosetta 2 compatibility feature, which allows apps made for Intel Macs to run on Apple silicon Macs under emulation.

However, with this 5.2 update, the engine is now native, which means faster performance when editing levels and better compatibility, which could result in fewer crashes both for devs and players.

Curious timing

We've spoken in the past about how some fans have remade past games using Unreal Engine 5, but since its release in May 2021, there's not been a commercial game released that's been powered by it.

It's no surprise when you consider the amount of time and effort that goes into making a modern game. In the past with the SEGA Mega Drive, for instance, a game would usually take no more than a year to create - but for sprawling adventures like the recently-released Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, it could take as long as seven years from conception to release.

This is why the timing of this update is curious, with WWDC 2023 just a few weeks away. Being a developer conference, Apple wants to entice those interested in making apps and games with the latest updates it announces, and possible new products it may be revealing there, such as its Reality Pro VR headset.

Showcasing Unreal Engine 5.2 at the keynote on June 5 would be a fantastic way for a third-party tool to be used on Apple devices. With Resident Evil Village releasing on the Mac and Apple Arcade constantly being updated with new games, it would be a great opportunity for all to see the engine be used to bring Mac gaming to the next level.

But let's not forget that Epic, the owner of Unreal Engine, alongside Fortnite and the Epic Games Store, isn't on good terms with Apple lately. So this could amount to nothing.

With Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro having been announced for iPad already, it's giving us the impression that this WWDC could be one of its biggest in recent years - and we'll be covering everything that Apple announces from June 5.

Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use every day to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a monthly newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64, and Daily Star.