Steam is a popular video game distribution platform for both Macs and PCs. It offers its own app store, where you can buy and download games to play on your computer. On the Mac, Steam gives you access to a much wider variety of games than you can buy directly from publishers, or from the Mac App Store alone.
If you are running Steam on an old Mac — one running a version of macOS prior to macOS Catalina (10.15)
— an upcoming change to the Steam app will affect how you can use it. On February 15, 2024, Steam will stop supporting Macs running macOS Mojave (10.14) and macOS High Sierra (10.13). Steam says that only 2% of Macs using the Steam app run these operating systems, but it’s quite possible that you have an old Mac running one of these versions of macOS — perhaps even specifically to play old games that haven’t yet been updated to run on newer Macs.
32-bit games, and the lack of security updates for older macOS versions
The main reason for this change is the support for 32-bit apps, which Apple dropped in macOS Catalina. Steam says that “many developers have not updated their games to support 64-bit executables;” therefore the “Steam store will stop considering games that offer only 32-bit macOS binaries to be Mac compatible at the end of 2023.”
Another reason for the change is because “core features in Steam rely on an embedded version of Google Chrome, which no longer functions on older versions of macOS.” The company also points out that these older operating systems are not secure. “Apple ended security updates and technical support for macOS 10.13 in December 2020 and for macOS 10.14 in October 2021.”
So, this begs the question: If you have an old Mac running one of these versions of macOS, and 32-bit games you can’t play on a newer system, what can you do?
How to keep playing older Steam games on macOS Mojave or High Sierra
Starting February 15, you may no longer be able to update the Steam app or purchase any new games on an older Mac. But, assuming that you’ve previously downloaded Steam game titles onto an old Mac, you should be able to continue playing them.
It is true that there is a security risk when older Macs are connected to the internet. But if you have a Mac that is dedicated to just playing old games, and you don’t use it to browse the web or download anything else—particularly if you leave it disconnected from the network—this shouldn’t pose any problems. Steam does need to activate games the first time you play them, and it records statistics about your games. However, even if the Steam app no longer runs, you should be able to play your games in offline mode.
One exception is multi-player games; these may no longer work with the older Steam app. You may also no longer be able to access friends and chats via the Steam app, either.
You can launch games without going through the Steam app. Go to your Steam library, right-click on a game, and choose Manage > Browse Local Files.
This opens a folder where the game’s app is stored. You can launch a game by double-clicking the app, or its alias.
The top-level folder that contains all your Steam games is located in your user folder at
/Library/Application Support/Steam/steamapps/common. You can browse this folder and open any apps from there.
It’s a good idea to check for updates of all your games and other downloaded content before the cut-off date of February 15, 2024, and launch all your apps at least once before then, to make sure that they are activated. After that date, you should be able to play older games either via the Steam app or by launching them directly.
How can I learn more?
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