How to Run the New Age of Empires III DE on a Mac with Parallels Desktop


I have written several times in the Parallels blog about my most favorite game franchise of all time: Age of Empires (Here, here, and here). Since Age of Empires is a Windows game, when I want to play it, I use a Windows virtual machine (VM) in Parallels Desktop – and that is why I write about Age of Empires here. 

The last few years have seen a real resurgence in Age of Empires. (“There likely has never been a more vibrant community around this 21-year-old game,” said Jonathan Bolding). Newly released versions of Age of Empires I and Age of Empires II, called Definitive Editions, have fueled this resurgence and I have really enjoyed playing them on my Mac with Parallels Desktop. So, when I was asked if I would like to play the about-to-be-released new Age of Empires III Definitive Edition a few days before its release, I jumped at the chance. Age of Empires III has some major differences from its predecessors, and the new Definitive Edition adds two new cultures, Sweden and Inca. The two new home cities for these new cultures are shown in Figure 1. 

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Figure 1_The Home Cities of the two new cultures in Age of Empires III Definitive Edition

We are proud to collaborate with Microsoft and officially support AoE III DE as a platform for playing this game on the Mac. 

I used Age of Empires III Definitive Edition on two different Macs: a MacBook Pro and an iMac, both using the same Windows 10 VM. The machine specs and the VM settings are shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2_Specs for the Macs and the VMs

As expected for any game with “Definitive Edition” in its name, the graphics have been dramatically improved. (Figure 3 and 4). 

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Figure 3_Screenshot from Age of Empires III Definitive Edition on a Mac with Parallels Desktop
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Figure 4_Screenshot from Age of Empires III Definitive Edition on a Mac with Parallels Desktop

On both the MacBook Pro and the iMac, the Age of Empires III Definitive Edition game gave me the warning that it couldn’t detect sufficient video RAM (Figure 5).

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Figure 5_Age of Empires warning about video memory in a VM

Undoubtedly, this is because Parallels Desktop allocates video RAM for the VM out of Mac system memory and it will provide the video RAM that an app needs (Figure 6), but the game had no way of knowing this. This warning can be ignored, and I detected no issues related to video memory. 

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Figure 6_Video memory settings for my VM

At first launch, Age of Empires III Definitive Edition also checks the performance of the hardware, and Figure 7 shows the result of this performance check on my iMac. Please note the CPU score of “Very High” and the GPU score of “Ultra High”.

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Figure 7_Age of Empires performance check of my iMac

Because my GPU was rated “Ultra High”, for the Age of Empires III Definitive Edition screenshots (Figure 3 and 4) and the game play video (Video 1), I set all the graphics options to their maximum settings. As you can see in the video, the game play was fine, and the game never froze or crashed. 

Now I freely admit that the Macs I used were high-end Macs. I would not recommend that you try to play Age of Empires III Definitive Edition, for example, on a four-year-old MacBook Air with 4GB of RAM. The suggested minimum requirements for a Mac to run Age of Empires III Definitive Edition are: 

These are my first impressions of Age of Empires III Definitive Edition after a few days. I look forward to many more days of playing both Age of Empires III Definitive Edition and Age of Empires II Definitive Edition. Watch for another blog post in a couple of weeks. 

Age of Empires III Definitive Edition is available now on the Microsoft Store and on Steam. It is $19.99 and is a 34GB download. 

Want to try it yourself on your Mac? Get the free trial of Parallels Desktop

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