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Play 32-bit Steam & old Windows games on Mac [Catalina & Big Sur]

I usually use Steam if I want to play old Windows games on macOS. Many of my favourite games, for example, Counter-Strike, are available on macOS through Steam client. It was all good until Apple’s release of MacOS Catalina, which doesn’t allow the installation of 32-bit apps. The Counter-Strike and many other Windows and Mac games are 32-bit. As far as I know, Steam and its peers have no plans to update old games for 64-bit operating systems. That makes things difficult for anyone who wishes to play classic games on Catalina and newer versions like macOS 11 Big Sur. This article reviews a software, CrossOver, that can bypass the limitation of Catalina and Big Sur in running 32-bit Steam and Windows games.

Play old 32-bit games on Mac OS Catalina & Big Sur

Those who have upgraded to Catalina/Big Sur already know that it can’t run 32-bit Mac apps and games. And this change affects 32-bit Windows applications too. So if you are using WineSkin or WineBottler, for running your Windows apps on macOS, you are also at a loss.

The widely followed way to run 32-bit games on a Mac is downgrading the OS to Mojave or by using a virtual machine instance with Virtualbox. We already have a post on installing 32-bit apps when macOS says the “app needs to be updated.”

But these two methods have their advantages and disadvantages. May people prefer run their games without virtual machine or apps like Virtualbox or Parallels. They want to play them natively on Catalina/Big Sur itself, especially if they have 32-bit and 64-bit games in their Steam Library. Thankfully, it still possible to play all those old games on Catalina & Big Sur if you install CrossOver 20.0.2.

Play old 32-bit Games Mac Catalina

The above screenshot is taken from Steam for macOS Catalina. It shows a warning message if I try to access or download any 32-bit Steam Game. CrossOver can help you in running the Windows version of Steam as a guest program on macOS Catalina & Big Sur. Since the Windows client of Steam runs 32-bit games, you can play them directly- just as you are doing it from Catalina/ Big Sur.

Related: Download WineSkin (unofficial) for Catalina to play 32-bit Steam games

Steps to install and old 32-bit Steam games on a Mac running Catalina/Big Sur

Crossover is there in the market for the last few years, but it came useful for me after the release of Catalina. CrossOver is a fork of Wine, an app which provides a compatibility layer for Windows programs, to make them run on Unix based operating systems like macOS or Linux without virtualisation or emulation. The latest version of CrossOver 20.0.2 not only helps you open classic Windows games on macOS, but also fix the issue of Catalina/Big Sur unable to play 32-bit games.

Install run 32-bit games Catalina CrossOver

In this case, we install Steam for Windows on macOS Catalina using CrossOver. Then we use Windows client of the Steam to download and play the 32-bit games in the library.

  • Download a trial or purchase the latest version of CrossOver for macOS Catalina, here. Also available on Amazon (USA).
  • Now click on “Install a Windows application”, and then search for Steam.
  • We search for Steam (which is fully supported) and continue with the installation. Wait for CrossOver to download all the needed files.
  • It may ask permissions for installing some fonts, and Microsoft XML Parser 3.0- allow it.
  • Once it is ready, you will see the Steam installer appearing on your macOS desktop- permit for any additional file download and sign-in.
  • Login to Steam as usual and open the Library. Here you would be able to download and install the games as shown screenshot. Click the Play button to start playing your 32-bit Seam game on Catalina (works on macOS 11 Big Sur too).
  • Check our article for a fix if macOS shows an error, “this app from an unverified developer,” when you install CrossOver.

Play 32-bit Steam Games macOS Catalina

CrossOver is not free, but at about $10, it is dirt cheap when you compare the costly options like owning a license of Parallels or Windows 10. The total value of games I’ve on my Steam library is over fifty dollars. So for me, Crossover is the best application to play Steam and old Windows games on a Mac, any day.

YouTube player

Check the above video on using CrossOver playing 32-bit Steam games on macOS Catalina.

Playing old Windows 32-bit games on macOS Big Sur/Catalina with CrossOver

CrossOver can run almost all popular and old Windows games although we talk mainly about Steam 32-bit titles in this page. One may use the search function for non-steam Windows games, for example, “Alien Terminator.” Many of the popular titles are already supported. You can see the compatibility status, with a rating, within the application itself. If the score is four stars or above, then you can assuredly use CrossOver to play that Windows game on Catalina.

Play old Windows games 32-bit Catalina

There is a “Select Installer” option at the top section of the CrossOver app- click on that, and then point your game installer (.exe) or the game folder. CrossOver the bottles the game for macOS, and adds it’s icon into the app window as shown above. It works for old Windows programs too.

2 Comments
  1. Thanks for the info. Can you tell us where to find the $10 version. All I am seeing is that the cheapest version is $39.95.

  2. Finally I found a solution to my problem! Thank you for this article

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