clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Get Ready for Apple TV Games

The next Apple TV will likely boast a speedier processor and new remote control that would make it great for gaming.


The generation of game developers who came of age in the mobile era and conquered the small screen with their simple yet addictive iPhone and iPad games can’t wait to take a crack at the TV.

The latest version of the Apple TV, expected to be announced at Apple’s San Francisco press event next week, will likely boast a speedier processor and a new motion-sensitive remote control that would make it a great gaming machine. The decision to open the set-top box up to developers would create a fresh screen of opportunity for those who’ve already found success on its mobile devices.

“We’re watching it very keenly. There are tons of email threads going around internally. We think it can be game-changing,” said Eric Futoran, co-founder of Scopely, a mobile entertainment company based in Culver City, Calif.

A newly launched Twitter account, @AppStoreGames, only adds to the anticipation.

To be sure, Apple isn’t mounting a direct assault on the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox video game consoles. Others have tried that and failed, notably the Kickstarter-backed Ouya microconsole, which stumbled once it reached the living room and sold its software assets in July to Razer, a maker of products for gamers. Even Amazon, one of the better-financed players, is struggling to attract developers to its Fire TV platform.

Instead, the Apple TV is expected to aim for the casual game market, those easy-to-play, mass-market diversions like Angry Birds or Bejeweled, whose revenue is expected to exceed the traditional console business in nine countries by 2019, according to one analysis by PwC.

Industry veterans think Apple has decent prospects for success, in part because of its extensive network of developers who’ve already created games for the iPhone and iPad. The new version of the Apple TV will likely be tied to the thriving ecosystem that is Apple’s App Store and powered by the same iOS mobile software — making the transition to the living room screen slightly less painful.

“There are 100 million consoles in the world,” said Glu Chief Executive Niccolo de Masi. “To me, the interesting question has always been not who has the 100 million installed consoles today but who is going to dominate the next billion living rooms. I think a company like Apple has a chance.”

Not everyone is bowled over by the latest developments in the Apple TV, which underwent its last major update in 2012.

One digital media executive noted that Apple’s anticipated move to bring game apps to the living room TV seems downright pedestrian when compared with more ambitious efforts by Microsoft, with its holographic HoloLens project, or Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of virtual reality technology company Oculus Rift.

And success in gaming is hardly assured.

One potential issue is latency. Video game consoles have created the expectation that, whenever you press a button on your game controller, the TV screen responds immediately. Apple will need to deliver the same no-lag experience with its touch-sensitive controller. Developers will also need to tailor apps for the television.

The Apple TV box will vie with other companies making bids for living room gaming. Cable giant Comcast* struck a deal earlier this summer with game publisher Electronic Arts to stream video game titles to the TV through the cable company’s X1 set-top box.

An Apple spokesperson declined comment.

* Comcast Ventures is an investor in Re/code’s parent company, Vox Media.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.