Games apple tv gaming

Published on October 16th, 2018 | by Kirk Hiner

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Opinion: The lingering hope for Apple TV gaming

In the wake of Microsoft dumping Apple TV support for Minecraft, many websites were quick to declare the death of Apple TV gaming. A more rational reaction is that the loss of Minecraft will have little to no effect on the platform’s viability. I have yet to speak to anyone who’s decision to buy the Apple TV was contingent upon Minecraft, and the game never came up in my conversations with developers as a reason for or against building a game in tvOS.

Microsoft can do what they want. The only company that truly has an effect on the perception of Apple TV as a gaming device is Apple, and that’s a switch they can flip at any time. It’s actually just one of many switches Apple needs to flip, but we’ll focus solely on gaming for now.

The Apple TV is certainly powerful enough to handle modern games, so what else does it need? Controller support, of course. It’s already there through third-party MFi gamepads, but Apple does little to promote this. Sure, their Apple TV web store page has a SteelSeries Nimbus prominently displayed, but with little explanation of its usefulness or even a list of popular compatible games that could benefit from it.

To really send a message to consumers, Apple would do better to bundle the Apple TV with a gamepad (as some stores have done in the past). It would better if Apple were to design and manufacture their own gamepad that’s boxed with the Apple TV, but I don’t see that ever happening.

A simpler solution—and one that’s baffling in its absence—is the adequate promotion for Apple TV games (or tvOS apps in general) in the App Store. When users launch the App Store app they should be able to sort by Apple TV compatibility, then break that down by category.

tvOS games should stand separate from iOS games. Searching the entire App Store for games then hoping the one you like has tvOS compatibility is like going to Electronics Boutique back in the ’90s and searching for Mac OS logo on all those wonderful Windows PC games.

But those suggestions are obvious to anyone who’s ever played an Apple TV game. Ars Technica ran an article this weekend that examined what game developers feel Apple should do to increase consumer awareness and acceptance. The developers brought up a couple other important steps Apple should take. Strange Flavour CEO Aaron Fothergill suggested that Apple should do a better job of supporting Game Center across platforms, for example.

Developer Patrick Hogan stressed the importance of marketing the Apple TV as a gaming platform, adding that Apple needs to, “Spend a lot of money on funding platform exclusives, ports, and presence at every major gaming expo and conference to break the chicken-egg problem of getting customers to make it viable to devs.”

The chicken and the egg argument makes sense, but can anyone realistically expect Apple to have a booth at, say, E3? It’s more likely we’ll just continue to see a developer or two showing off an upcoming game at your typical Apple media event, and no one will notice because they’ve tuned out while waiting to see what’s happening with the iPhone, as when Thatgamecompany took the stage to show off Sky.

Anyone remember that? Is anyone still waiting for it? What I do hope to see is a marketing campaign that shows gamers sitting around an Apple TV playing a game such as Final Fantasy, Madden NFL, or (fingers crossed) Fortnite.

In the meantime, the Ars Technica article indicates there is still hope for Apple TV gaming because the developers are still there and interested in the platform, citing the importance of maintaining a good relationship with Apple and the ease of developing for Apple TV. Hopefully, Apple flips some switches soon to make these developers excited about tvOS, not just compliant, so that gamers can get excited, too.

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About the Author

has been writing for the Apple web since 1997, having served as editor of Applelinks and the Technology Tell Apple Channel. In addition to his work with BEST Apple TV, Kirk currently contributes to Mac Gamer HQ and Pure Nintendo. He lives with his wife and three children in small-town Ohio where the land is cheap and the air is (relatively) clean.



One Response to Opinion: The lingering hope for Apple TV gaming

  1. I always thought that when Apple would launch their new Apple TV, it would have an App Store, and that would mark the end of PS3 and Xbox consoles. But Apple didn’t focus on the gaming part. They created an entertainment device, with games as an option. The first limitation for game developers was the size. I believe it was around 100 or 200 mb of maximum size which is allowed for an app on Apple TV, the rest being downloaded after installation. The next limitation was that the Siri remote was compulsory. I believe that’s optional now, but it was compulsory. Also the Siri remotes motion and everything isn’t well detected by the Apple TV, since it’s on Bluetooth. I tried playing a few tennis and bowling games, and I can tell you it’s not fun. There’s a delay in my motions and the results. The next limitation is solely Apple’s decision. To make it accessible, they put a $199 price only. If they would add a better A-series chip, and other graphic improvements, I believe the prices would shoot up $100 or more, and it would not be popular.

    I think Apple is going the correct way here. Start off by making the device popular, at a not so pricey cost. Improve the software and overall experience. Once that’s done, start by introducing other important graphics update, which would help them get more users and make it more popular. If they only get FIFA to laugh their game, 80% of people on PS4 would be sold. Honestly. A PS4 costs about $500 and FIFA an additional $50. Sp Apple TV would be the best option for those looking to play FIFA. And to do that, Apple would have to remove or reduce the limitations I stated above.

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