Game Developers Discuss How Apple Could Improve Gaming on Apple TV

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Last week, Minecraft: Apple TV Edition was removed from the tvOS App Store and developer Mojang announced that anyone who was still playing the game on Apple TV would no longer see any updates or further support. In a statement, the company said that it needed to reallocate resources "to the platforms that our players use the most."

In a new article shared over the weekend, Ars Technica spoke with a few game developers in the wake of Minecraft's removal from the tvOS App Store, attempting to gain a consensus on what they think Apple needs to do to make the Apple TV a true gaming device. Strange Flavour CEO Aaron Fothergill said that Apple could do this by doing a better job of supporting Game Center across platforms, and creating its own gaming controller to bundle in with an Apple TV, "so there's an Apple TV being sold specifically for games."


Developer Patrick Hogan also indicated support for Apple to build its own full-featured gaming controller and include it in "every" Apple TV box, while other developers Ars Technica spoke with believed an optional gaming Apple TV bundle would suffice. Continuing, Hogan said Apple's marketing for Apple TV should emphasize gaming more, and the company should "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."
Most of the developers I spoke with seemed to believe the same thing I did when I reviewed the Apple TV: there's a lot of potential here for this to be the Apple gaming console that people have speculated about for years. But, they add, Apple just isn't trying hard enough to let consumers know what the TV can do or to make it easy for them to use the TV explicitly for gaming purposes.
Although the fourth and fifth-generation Apple TV devices have the hardware for powerful gaming support, Apple's actions so far have not indicated it intends to lean into presenting the Apple TV as a video game console. Even Game Center, which previously had a dedicated iOS app and social features, was downgraded to an optional integration for third-party gaming apps in iOS 10.

Apple also hindered gaming development on tvOS at the start by forcing developers to build in support for its touch-based Siri Remote in every gaming app, despite the fact that the Apple TV supports third-party Bluetooth controllers. Apple dropped this requirement within the fourth-generation Apple TV's first year on the market, but many developers mentioned that this left a poor first impression for the Apple TV as a true gaming device.

Still, most of the developers that Ars Technica spoke to remain positive about Apple TV's future as a gaming device. Team Alto lead Ryan Cash commented on the removal of Minecraft, bemused that Mojang and Microsoft completely axed the game as the Apple TV platform "continues to grow."
"If I were in charge of the game though, I think I'd really try to stay there. While the platform certainly isn't the biggest, it continues to grow, and it's a great way for certain types of audiences to experience gaming, often for their first time."
As of now, Apple's focus on the Apple TV is likely its upcoming string of exclusive television shows, which are rumored to be free to customers who own an Apple TV, iPhone, or iPad. Looking to the future, the successor to the Apple TV 4K isn't expected until 2019 or later, as Apple typically goes a few years in between generations of Apple TV, unlike its other products which get more consistent annual updates. Because of this, there have not been any solid rumors yet as to what features or improvements will be coming to the next Apple TV.

Article Link: Game Developers Discuss How Apple Could Improve Gaming on Apple TV
 

gnipgnop

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2009
1,400
1,631
Apple isn't going to make their own gaming controller unless there was some sort of specific in-house technology that gave it functional differentiation versus competitors. They've largely abandoned manufacturing hardware where industrial design was really the only differentiating factor (WiFi routers, Cinema Display, etc). I think the bundle idea is probably the far more likely scenario.
 

apple_iBoy

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2003
687
416
Philadelphia, PA
No matter what era, the Apple TV has always been a product of undertapped potential. Ours is our main media source for the tv. We got rid of the fios box for Directv now, and Plex, Netflix and HBO apps have replaced the Blu-ray player. Apple TV could be our game box too (native, plus Steamlink) if they’d just take it a little more seriously.
 

omihek

macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2014
514
1,553
Salt Lake City, UT
If Apple were to offer a gaming-focused hardware bundle, I'd expect the software to reflect that as well. It's so TV and movie focused I wouldn't be surprised if some people aren't even aware it is also a gaming console.
 

WannaGoMac

macrumors 68020
Feb 11, 2007
2,436
3,382
Too little. Too late. Most people who want to play good games have a console (or more) already. PS4 / Xbox / Switch are cheap enough and readily available. Why spend money on a device that doesn't give you a top tier experience?
Because it wouldnt take a lot for the Apple TV to be a decent gaming platform for those people who have had no interest in a console. Kinda of similar to how the Wii combined with certain games was credited with getting folks gaming who never traditionally would purchase a gaming platform.

Apple TV is already widely popular for video streaming, it represents an opportunity to expand services & software for Apple. Now given how wealthy Apple is nowadays, they probably dont care as it's too small an opportunity for them. (frankly, im surprised they havent ditched Apple TV completely given the revenue level)
 
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pika2000

Suspended
Jun 22, 2007
5,587
4,895
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.
In short, we want some money from Apple.

Meh. Apple’s gaming “console” is the iPhone/iPad.
 

ChrisCW11

macrumors 65816
Jul 21, 2011
1,037
1,432
Yes. Stop requiring games to support the limited potential of Apple's remote control.

ALL other platforms support games that can only work with a certain type of device and it does not prevent customers from being able to enjoy them.

If you want to game on the Apple TV, then make the game work with proper game controllers without being crippled by a requirement to support a ****** TV remote. Apple TV hardware is good enough for a wide variety of gaming, but the control scheme requirement to work with a ****** touch pad that barely works properly to control Apple's own menu is stupid. My new 4th gen Apple TV remote CONSTANTLY becomes misaligned so swiping up moves left or right or jumps around and I have to disconnect and pair it to again to work properly. I don't even want to try to play a game on it because of this.
 

danmart

macrumors 65816
Apr 24, 2015
1,286
724
Lancs, UK
Apple TV could be huge for gaming. It could be a virtual Nintendo Switch - with the Switch you use the same device mobile or plugged into you TV. If apps were cross-platform and used iCloud saves you could be playing a game on you iPad on-the-go then fire up the ATV once you get back home for the big-screen experience.

Apple needs to buy a couple of high-quality games studios to produce great first-party games that people really want to play and build a market that way. Having an Apple-branded controller that can be used across multiple devices AirPod-style would also be a big enabler.

I’d prefer this over the Switch if it was done well. The size of the Switch is too much of a compromise for me - too big for pocket gaming, too small for the ‘table mode’. A cross-platform game that worked with iPhone, iPad and ATV would be the ultimate expression.

Control on the touch devices would be the tricky part, so Apple needs more though on how to make that work. The device Nintendo seem to have patented is closest to how I would see this working well. Have a physical device that overlays the screen and so makes actual buttons available over touch-controls. Such items already exist, they just lack the framework and standardised set of controls.
 

whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
6,571
654
Cork, Ireland.
Apple never really learn that you have to commit to a platform to get 3rd party support. Why would any games developer spend devote effort and money to the platform when Apple's support has always been wishy-washy.

Apple got a bit lucky with the iPhone gaming market, there wasn't much out there at the time in terms of modern touch-based mobile OSs, so they had a natural lead and didn't need to promote it much.

I understand why Apple don't push gaming too hard on AppleTV (or Mac, for that matter) - they don't like to pick fights they can't win; and the gaming market is a tough market to break into. For word-processing, you can get by with probably just one app. For graphic design, or movie editing, perhaps a small handful of apps. But for gaming, you need dozens if not hundreds of apps to be a viable gaming platform (unless you guarantee an AAA exclusive game, and we saw what happened with Halo....). That means they're very dependent on widespread developer support.
 

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,414
4,987
Canada
Apple carrying about what consumers and developers want?

L

O

L

They tell us what we want, because we don't even know what we want, right?

I think Jobs said something like that at some point, but Cook & Co have carried this to the extreme.
And that is one of the reasons why AppleTV app strategy has failed.

Developers kept on telling Apple why they weren't putting their apps on the Mac OS too. Finally, Apple stoped being arrogant and started to listen, and look whats happening.... more higher profile apps on the AppStore.
 

69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
7,327
13,684
In between a rock and a hard place
Yes. Stop requiring games to support the limited potential of Apple's remote control.

ALL other platforms support games that can only work with a certain type of device and it does not prevent customers from being able to enjoy them.

If you want to game on the Apple TV, then make the game work with proper game controllers without being crippled by a requirement to support a ****** TV remote. Apple TV hardware is good enough for a wide variety of gaming, but the control scheme requirement to work with a ****** touch pad that barely works properly to control Apple's own menu is stupid. My new 4th gen Apple TV remote CONSTANTLY becomes misaligned so swiping up moves left or right or jumps around and I have to disconnect and pair it to again to work properly. I don't even want to try to play a game on it because of this.
Your argument is a bit dated.
Apple dropped this requirement within the fourth-generation Apple TV's first year on the market,
I think the ATV get's no love as a gaming machine because there are much better, fully supported options already on the market... including the iPhone and iPad.
 

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,414
4,987
Canada
For Macs, it goes further: iMacs and Macbook Pros currently have ****** GPUs, and thanks to Apple's 'thinner/smaller' strategy, more powerful GPUs will need more cooling.. something that the current line up ( apart from iMac Pro ) can't do. Macs just cannot compete against a Gaming PC, in terms of performance and price - a decent gaming PC will cost less than a Mac.

Apple never really learn that you have to commit to a platform to get 3rd party support. Why would any games developer spend devote effort and money to the platform when Apple's support has always been wishy-washy.

Apple got a bit lucky with the iPhone gaming market, there wasn't much out there at the time in terms of modern touch-based mobile OSs, so they had a natural lead and didn't need to promote it much.

I understand why Apple don't push gaming too hard on AppleTV (or Mac, for that matter) - they don't like to pick fights they can't win; and the gaming market is a tough market to break into. For word-processing, you can get by with probably just one app. For graphic design, or movie editing, perhaps a small handful of apps. But for gaming, you need dozens if not hundreds of apps to be a viable gaming platform (unless you guarantee an AAA exclusive game, and we saw what happened with Halo....). That means they're very dependent on widespread developer support.
 

TheFluffyDuck

macrumors 6502a
Jul 26, 2012
543
1,461
1) Better Graphics APIs, 2) Better hardware.

We now have metal that's a nice touch, but considering DirectX came out in 1995. I think Apple has a long way before it takes those kinds of APIs seriously. We are unlikely to get better hardware until there is an administration change. 11 years ago I brought a MBP with a NVIDIA graphics card that was mere months old, and smoked many desktops. Now we buy MBPs with middling underclocked ATI cards, or worse intel integrated cards. RAM is always the bare minimum with Apple products, as is storage. The Deltas between Apple and other PC manufacturers have been getting worse for years now, as is price. Apple needs to stop trying to cut corners and make beasts again, at reasonable prices, not "grandma spec" at fashion accessory prices. THEN we can talk about gaming on Apple products.
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,148
11,991
Europe
I really don't see the problem with having a seperate streaming box and gaming console.

When I want to game, I can fire up the gaming console that uses something like 200W of power and can heat the whole room during the winter if needed, fans blazing. It comes with an awesome ergonomic controller with tons of buttons, and a UI designed perfectly for gaming.

When I want to watch tv, I turn to the AppleTV which uses 6W of power and is totally silent. It has a tiny remote that I actually quite like, and a UI designed perfectly for tvs and movies.

Sure it would be better to have a single converged device that can be silent and low-power while streaming and super powerful at all costs while gaming, that comes with both awesome controllers and a sleek little remote, and that has a UI fit for both gaming and tv/movie consumption, but so far there has yet to be such a device created. Every device that tries to be that prioritizes one use over the other, and the lower priority use always feels half-assed.
 
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