Top Developers Explain Why the Apple TV Isn’t Great for Gaming (Yet)


Apple Tv Games Credit: Apple

Back in 2015, while unveiling its fourth-generation Apple TV running tvOS, the company expressed hope that given the platform’s iOS-derived app-based interface, game developers would ultimately come around to building some pretty awesome single- and multi-player titles for the burgeoning platform. 

In light of its advanced software capabilities and powerful internal components like a zippy A8 CPU, the fourth-generation Apple TV is certainly a prime device for game developers to tap into (and it even works with select third-party gaming controllers, for players wanting a more realistic gaming experience on the big screen).

And while tvOS has seen a decent influx of new and ported titles from iOS game developers, some of those devs continue to express concern for the future of Apple TV gaming, while others remain hopeful, according to a new ArsTechnica report which details the responses of three well-known game developers who expressed mixed feelings about Apple TV’s role as a gaming rig.

What Are Developers Saying About Gaming on Apple TV?

Indicating that while he wasn’t “shocked” to hear news that Microsoft (developers of the popular Minecraft franchise) would be ending support for their title on Apple TV soon, Ryan Cash, the top developer with Team Alto, told ArsTechnica he remains “optimistic about the platform’s future” in gaming. 

“It doesn’t shock me,” Cash said, referring to the news of Minecraft’s looming tvOS demise. “I mean, for a game of that magnitude, I can see why they may not find the platform successful. 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,” Cash added.

Back in February, Cash and his crew at Team Alto released the sequel to their popular Alto’s Adventure game for iOS — Alto’s Odyssey, which Cash expressed was a “success” in the ArsTechnica interview — though he stopped short of elaborating. Alto’s Odyssey is available for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV as a $4.99 download from the App Store.

Another developer interviewed was Aaron Fothergill — the CEO of Strange Flavour games — who told ArsTechnica that while Apple TV is “easy to write for,” he wasn’t expecting his firm to rake in “millions, or even hundreds of thousands” by selling their iOS games ported to the tvOS platform.

When questioned about his thoughts on Microsoft’s decision to end support for Minecraft on Apple TV, Fothergill interestingly explained how he believes the decision may have been “politically motivated,” saying specifically that “It’s not like Minecraft needs a lot of support other than a server, even if they don’t update the Apple TV version.” 

“So the thought that it might be political definitely crossed my mind.”

Three Things Apple TV Needs for Gaming

Developer Patrick Hogan was thorough and concise when he explained to the publication that Apple must do “three things” to revitalize Apple TV gaming:

  • It must include an Apple-branded and “full-featured” gaming controller in the box. 
  • It must start marketing tvOS as an official gaming platform.
  • And finally it must “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.”

To read ArsTechnica’s full report, click here.

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