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Why the Apple TV won't revolutionize gaming

Andrew Hayward | Sept. 14, 2015
Games are just a small, but potentially very meaningful part of the new set-top box's overall appeal.

There’s another limitation in play: It appears that apps and games are limited to 200MB of storage apiece. That may not be a problem for many casual games, but high-performance titles may need to turn to the cloud to house their data—or grab chunks as needed for progression. But it also means developers may need to condense or compress assets, which isn’t going to make games look any better on your 50-inch flat screen.

And still…

Despite those potential complications, I see a lot of value to gaming on the Apple TV. It’s ideal for existing iOS device owners, and playing games on a box directly connected to your TV is a lot easier than using AirPlay streaming or one of those awkward HDMI connectors from years back.

The Apple TV could be a great living room console for family and party multiplayer experiences, such as a trivia game like You Don’t Know Jack. Get a few friends with iOS devices, crowd them around the TV, and you’ve got easy, instant fun. The Siri Remote has a built-in microphone, so why not bust out some karaoke party games, for that matter?

It’s also encouraging to see developers embracing the option to bring grander console experiences to Apple TV. You’ll be able to play this fall’s Guitar Hero Live on the device with the same plastic guitar peripheral—but no need for a dedicated gaming console. And popular toys-to-life games Skylanders Supercharged and Disney Infinity 3.0: Star Wars will both launch starter kits for Apple TV, as well.

guitar hero live
This photo shows AirPlay support from the iPad, but Guitar Hero Live will also be directly on Apple TV and use the same guitar controller.

As far as smaller games go, I’m not sure that every game will thrive in the living room setting. I’d rather play Crossy Road on my phone and be right there in the tense tapping action, rather than several feet away from a TV. It reminds me of buying mobile gem Threes! on Xbox One last year—I’d played hours and hours on iPhone, so I plopped down $5 to grab the console version and only played for a few minutes total. It just didn’t click with me the same way.

But bigger, deeper games will make a lot of sense on Apple TV. Apple featured Transistor prominently during the demo, and it’s one of the games that will really benefit from the grander experience of playing on a TV. Same with Bastion, XCOM: Enemy Within, The Walking Dead, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.


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