The day has finally come, and the new Apple TV is finally out. I'm excited not just because I've wanted a great way to play some of the great mobile games on a bigger screen, but also because I think this is a potential turning point for mobile OS devices eventually overtaking dedicated gaming hardware.


But do I think that it will be gold rush for developers who get in on the platform early? No. We're seeing many, many developers, and complaints about the Apple TV's discoverability issues. Which, of course, would be nothing new for the App Store, I suppose, but it's disappointing that Apple is continuing to just shrug at the problem and call having a featured list a good enough solution. It's not.

The problem with the tvOS App Store being not a gold rush is the potential of so many developers trying to get in on the platform. A lot of developers aren't even trying to make additional money, they're just updating their apps to be super-universal now. So for many folks, they might have a sizable Apple TV lineup as it is and won't need to buy many games. Plus, the drawback to having super-universal apps between iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV is that it still makes it difficult to make games that can be sold for, well, a fair price, or anything close to what games for consoles are worth.

I think that the Apple TV will be a huge deal in the long-term, as games that would fit on TV but not as part of the current consoles could do well. Plus, it will be additional money in the margins for a lot of developers, and maybe those margins help make developers enough money to keep making games. But I do worry that given Apple's general Apple-ness with game discovery, and there being an impossibly high quantity and quality of competition when this new platform launches, that it might not be a great experience for the developers on them.


Plus, there's the question of just how many people are going to buy the Apple TV? In a world where people can get great experiences from $40 streaming sticks – the Roku Streaming Stick is a bit underpowered, but it's a great device for me – why does someone need a $149 TV? This device might be too late...or too early, at least in terms of gaming. But the platform needed to exist at some point.

What this situation could wind up being like is the Apple Watch. While the game-playing potential of the Apple TV and Apple Watch are light years apart, I recall there being a lot of hype on the developer end for Apple Watch content. And then, pretty much once it launched, the hype machine died off as either no one wanted Apple Watch games, or so many developers wanted in on the potential gold rush, to the point that no one could have even a modest enough success to justify it. I mean, have you heard about Apple Watch games? I feel like I could count on my hands how many developers were promoting games around the watchOS 2 launch. Maybe it'll be viable for developers someday, as more people have smartwatches and the best ways to interact with them are discovered.

Watch Quest 3But it's also quite possible that there are too many prospectors for each potential gold rush for anyone to possibly strike it rich.

This makes me concerned for VR's future in particular. At least the Apple Watch and Apple TV had considerable consumer purposes, people were going to buy the device, it was and is a question of how many and how many people are going to buy the apps? With VR, I see many developers starting to make games and other interactives for the format, but without any clear plan of "how is this going to make money?" Perhaps it's a bunch of hobbyists who look bigger than what they are, developers using limited amounts of their resources to make sure they have their foot in the door with VR, or there's enough funny money out there that developers can make stuff for VR from publishers and investors wanting to make sure there's a gold rush.

But what if there isn't? The Apple Watch wasn't. The Apple TV remains to be seen. And those are consumer devices. I'm not convinced that VR doesn't just wind up being the next big moneymaker at Dave and Buster's. The most effective VR setups – especially the HTC Vive – require a lot of effort, and quite possibly powerful hardware that people won't have for a long time. And it does look goofy, which is a silly reason to not buy VR, but it was a significant reason why people hated Google Glass. Mobile could be the future of VR, but it might take more capable hardware and Apple getting on board.

But despite those shaky conditions, what you see are developers making stuff for VR platforms without even knowing if it's going to be a big stabilizing factor.

This connects back to the Indiepocalypse which I've written about before. It's quite possible that with game development opened up so much, what's happened is that any potential gold rush for developers will see so many prospectors that there will be fewer who strike it rich, and you never get that healthy niche market that fuels a lot of people like in the early days of the App Store, or in and around the days when it was a lot harder to get on Steam. It's not so much that there are fewer breakout hits, even, but it does worry me that with all this growth, there are fewer opportunities for games that make enough profit for a small studio to continue functioning as a business from just making games. A lot of studios that do stick around often do a lot of contracting work on the side, making games doesn't pay the bills.

And it's sad, because it's the unfortunate byproduct of democratized game development: it's great that so many more people can make games and distribute them to the world. I don't know if I'd ever change that. But that isn't necessarily the healthiest market for those looking to make a living hustling in the game industry. Because it's possible to be smart and be on a new platform on day zero, not just day one, and there's a thousand other developers doing the same thing.

And for gaming enthusiasts, when it's so difficult for talented indies to make great games that also justify their sustained development, it's got to be disheartening. One can only hope that the Apple TV does wind up helping developers thrive in game development.

  • Anonomation

    Is that game job sim on the Apple TV?

    • Danigarcia75

      No, I think is a VR game project.

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  • houseofg

    Testify! Great piece.

  • pokah

    If I'm going to sit down and play a game on TV- I'll play my PS4.

    • subshell001

      wow that's incredible

      • pokah

        Just saying to me 90% of the appeal to iOS games is the fact that they are mobile and I can quickly play them anywhere... While watching TV, in bathroom, in bed, etc. The quality still can't compare to console games. Will that change in future?? Hmm still think they are at least a few generations behind- a Battlefield type experience will never be obtained on Apple TV ... But then again I'll never probably see a game like Clash of Clans or Candy Crush Saga on consoles either.. But to me those type games are largely favorable because they are mobile.

      • muttso1o

        No he's right.
        Apple tv is no serious contender when it comes to gaming.

      • bilboad

        Totally agreed. And I say this as someone who currently spends more time gaming on iOS devices than consoles. But that's just because these days I don't get many opportunities to play games while sitting in my living room. If I have an opportunity to sit on my couch and play games on my TV, for the most part the games available on my Xbox are far superior to what's available on iOS.

        I think the non-gaming functionality of the Apple TV is very useful for anyone, but especially people who own other Apple devices because of how nice the integration is. However for gaming, I think the Apple TV only makes sense for people who don't already have a dedicated game console.

    • unlimitedfury

      I may be in the minority, but I will probably never buy a PS4. I just hooked up my PS2 and am having a blast. For me it is not practical to spend $60 on a game that I may not even truly enjoy. I have enough of a backlog, I don't want to spend $350 to add to it. The $150 Apple TV makes sense when you're already invested in the ecosystem. I know the PS4 has some great games, some of the best ones happen to be HD remasters of HD remasters. Not for me.

      • speedyph

        🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗amen brother

      • ZeeMonkeyMan

        $150?? Try $350 in Australia! The same price of a PS4 now! No thanks Apple

      • {SQUEEK}

        Agreed. PS2 rules and most games are less than a dollar!

        Only way i would get a console game system now is if i get it as a present.

    • Galley

      I wanted to play Gran Turismo 6 recently. I hadn't played it in a while. There were 20 updates, and it took more than three hours! iOS/tvOS updates take less than a minute.

      • Ausar

        And let me guess you are going to play there asphalt/real racing 3

        Yea those two are really on the same level as gran turismo 6

      • Morgan01

        Really? Apple's. Attitude is "it's good enough? That attitude will not cut it when there are such quality consoles out there. Also, Imagine every time you update the Apple TV and it breaks games like on all IOS devices? Then unable to play games until developers re-code games? Portability is one thing...consoles? I'll stick with what I have. Sorry, Apple.

  • Danigarcia75

    I'm having a lot of fun with Geometry wars 3, Dragon Fantasy 2 and Alto. Playing with a pad I forget I'm playing with a Apple TV and I can play in iPhone or iPad the same games when going out.

    Sure it won't be that popular at first for console people but a lot of us have hundreds of games that we can play for free in a big TV (when super-universal versions are released). Maybe someday I won't need PlayStations if this device get the support I hope it will have.

    Only thing I don't like that much is size limitations and streaming parts of games but that can change if becomes a problem

    • TheGodless

      Or maybe there will one day be a PlayStation TV and Xbox TV rather than full fledged consoles due to it being cheaper for devs to not have to factor in the cost of game boxes, discs, manuals, and whatever other costs are involved in making physical products, while it would also help with the massive loss of revenue that comes from game resellers like GameStop selling used physical copies and not devs not being able to recoup any money from used sales. If they don't move in that direction, all of the devs and console manufacturers should demand at least 10% of the revenue be split between them when GameStop and other resellers sell one of their games. Heck, even actors and actresses get royalty checks from shows they were in decades ago being played on television and musicians get a few cents for every song play they get on the majority of the music streaming services. GameStop may not be what finally kills consoles, but they are certainly hastening their demise in unethically profiting off the backs of hardworking game makers.

      • pokah

        Xbox is 3/4 way there with Xbox 'One'. Both consoles have a lot of Video Aps as is and even sports games subscriptions like NBA TV and can stream major sporting events from them- or use Netflix, Hulu, etc.

        Apple TV seems ok, heck my wife uses one for her music when I'm gone but that's mostly because she refuses to learn how to use a console.

        So there's a market, but I just don't know to who or how big.

      • captainugboots

        So you've heard of PlayStation TV right?

        Guess not

      • RicoSuaveGuapo

        Few have.

  • Timmy2x

    Tried two times to post a "simple" text (waiting to be approved?)

  • Timmy2x

    Are there "flagged" words TA doesn't want us to use?

    • Shaun Musgrave

      We have an automatic spam filter with a hair-trigger to prevent the comments from being flooded with junk. It's pretty sensitive and even catches staff comments pretty regularly. If a moderator is around, they try to fish the normal comments out, but they're not around on weekends. Sorry!

      • Timmy2x

        Thank you for the reply and explanation I appreciate it.

    • TheGodless

      Not sure. Maybe they just don't like you.

  • Timmy2x

    Why can't I talk about my family and why we bought a Apple TV? Someone chime in why opinions get deleted?

  • arcadepcnut

    What does the appletv do that a pc running Xbox. Sorry kodi. Can't. I have a cheap 50$ "thin client" that can play movies music. Surf web. Emulators. Etc

    My computer is for "real games" and my phone and iPad is for playing while watching tv or at doctors office.

    The only think i use my current appletv is to AirPlay YouTube. Anyone else going to use the appletv as a gaming console??

    • MLM043

      I'm not

    • pokah

      Both consoles can do YouTube ..and your PC , I use HDMI to hook PC to tv monitor. Juggle that with my ps4.

    • unlimitedfury

      My Mac does all of that. (Emulators and Kodi to TV with HDMI) It doesn't play iOS games, enough of a difference for me.

    • TelFiRE

      Yes for social games like guitar hero. But mostly it's just a really really nice way to get to movies and shows.

      The tv is no place for serious gaming.

  • NickyNichols

    I remember an article on this very site highlighting how the development for Apple Watch apps was alarmingly silent.

    • pokah

      Lol Apple Watch ..

      Love Apple but I'm not staring into a 2 inch screen on my wrist for nothing, yet alone the price they ask for it

    • nini

      And no reason games should be there, it has a purpose and gaming isn't one.

  • MLM043

    I've never understood the hype over Apple TV. Why would playing Angry Birds on a big screen make it better? Actually we already got that, and it wasn't better at all. And this is just a pet peeve of mine, but if you play a mobile game on a tv, then it's not mobile gaming anymore. It's on a console, a micro console sure, but still a console. I mean isn't that why people love mobile gaming? Isn't that why this site was created, to cater to the fantastic on the go experiences showcased on our phones, tablets, and handheld devices. Isn't this a step backwards? Or do I have Apple TV's function wrong?

    • pokah

      Completely right imo.

      Not only do consoles have games that are a lot better- they have video Aps that you can literally watch nearly every major sporting event. You can watch YouTube on them, surf Internet, listen to podcasts, Netflix, Hulu, etc.

      I am with you- the huge reason iOS games are appealing is the fact they are mobile. Play them on train, car ride, while others are using TV, etc. The fact they are mobile is convenient. Apple TV is just a gimmick like Apple Watch. Why would I want to stare into a tiny 2 inch screen on my wrist? Why would I want to sit down on a couch, use up the TV, and play a mobile quality game?

    • dancj

      Yeah. If I had an Apple TV I can't really think of any reason why I'd chose to play a game on the TV rather than playing the same game on my iPad. The only games I can think of which would benefit are social games and things like Guitar Hero where you have to stand up.

  • walmartpolice

    What's that RPG game in he article?

    • Shaun Musgrave

      Dragon Fantasy: Black Tome Of Ice.

  • muttso1o

    "but also because I think this is a potential turning point for mobile OS devices eventually overtaking dedicated gaming hardware."

    To be honest I do not see this happening anytime soon. Dedicated gaming hardware can handle a lot more data then mobile devices. Sure at some point everything wil be the size of a microdot when it comes to computing power. For now mobile os devices are just not capable of the RAW data that games throw at cpu and gpu's. Mobile games are still miles away from console and pc games. They are at PS 2 level ( I still use an IPad 2 so my experience is based on that).

    An Mobile os device has to be very powerfull to get to that level.
    And with power comes heat. And that is something that will be a hugh drain on battery life. So the combination of these factors make it that mobile os devices eventually become dedicated hardware.

    And then there is the fact that a lot of those app store games are on those dedicated systems too. So the need for mobile will be lot smaller.

    And the there is the eye Candy factor ( yeah I know it should be about gameplay)
    Take the example of asphalt the game is great and looks good on mobile. Play it on your PC and you'll notice it shows it age and symplicity. So If I want a to play on my tv I rather go for Forza or drive club. Sure Apple TV and games is new, but now it seems that somehow Apple reinvented the whole thing.
    While Sony and Microsoft (especially in the US) have been doing this for years.

    I have no doubt that Apple tv finds a place like it has fine these years.
    But If I'm honest only two people in my direct circle of friends and familie has an Apple tv an they both live abroad.

  • nonen

    When posting screenshots that are unrelated to and never mentioned in the text, could you caption them at least? For example, what game is the robot with fists from?

    • Shaun Musgrave

      Dragon Fantasy: Black Tome of Ice.

      • nonen

        Thanks! 🙂

  • iPhallex

    So basically nobody should try anything new on a new platform and it's useless because it's too flooded with competition. Right. I'm glad not everyone shares your opinion, Mr. Carter!

  • Bloodangel

    But idea of Apple TV is so you can game when out n about on iPhone/iPad... And when home, you can continue your game on the big screen, if you want to. Also doesn't it have picture in picture, so can game at same time as you or someone else can watch tv?

  • Niclas Johansson

    This article is all over the place. Is it about ATV, Apple Watch, VR, or the indie game scene? Sorry, the parallells drawn between all these new content and hardware formats just don't make sense. Yes, Google Glass failed largely because people didn't want to look like idiots in public. That has no bearing on the potential reception of VR where you just look like an idiot in the confinement of your own home. And it has pretty much no connection to whether the Apple TV will succeed or not.

    Looking forward to a new piece written specifically about ATV. (If Toucharcade had an interest in covering VR, why has there been close to zero articles written about Google Cardboard and the whole homebrewing scene around that? Or AAA studios promoting games via "commercials" created in that format, like the Just Cause 3 Wingsuit Experience?)

    • Modjular

      I think he was drawing parallels to them since they're all new platforms, and hype around them are sorta similar.

  • Derrythe

    I plan on getting the new aTV at some point because I enjoy using the one I have, and the voice control, cross app media search, and the minor bonus of the occasional interesting game are enough to update my old device.

    But for real gaming? I'll end up getting a steam link.

  • EvanJO14

    I must say I'm more excited about Apple than Nintendo this week

  • eventide

    Why would you be excited at the prospect of mobile gaming taking over console and PC gaming?

    • Prince Hawthorne

      Because he's a mobile games Fanboy masquerading as a journalist.

  • chinito77

    There is a lot of junk and even more Fireplace and Aquarium apps than anything else. At this point, airplay mirror mode is the better option until more quality games like Rayman, Jetpack, and Oceanhorn appear. However, something about receiving notifications/IM on my TV then using my phone to respond works really well. Someone needs to port over LINE or FB Messenger soon!

  • Danigarcia75

    Looks like I'm in the minority here but I will play a lot in the ATV.
    I enjoy iPad games, last years I play less and les PlayStation and more iOS. I play with my iPad in home too so is normal I will do it now on ATV.

    But is a new market and we will see what happens the next 2 years

  • Gegoben

    First let me say, we have every console, going back to the 3do, and several high end gaming computers, and of course everyone in the home has an iphone.

    Yesterday, our new 64 gig apple tv arrived, the old one moved to the bedroom.

    It plays at a higher resolution than our old apple tv, and it was halloween, so we watched scary movies on it all day and night.

    What i didnt expect to happen, was for it to be used much for gaming since so many other options are available.

    We have had it for about 20 hrs so far, and it has been used for games for about 6 hrs!

    Time will tell how long this keeps up, but i can say we live it:)

  • cadaei

    I picked one up because as a hobby game dev I can put my own stuff on a big screen! Lots of fun!

    Also had a lot of fun with my kids playing shadowmatic trying to figure out the shapes.

    And geometry wars 3 works really nicely with just the remote.

    • dancj

      Interesting - considering in a previous thread I was disagreeing with someone who insisted Geometry Wars 3 couldn't possible work well with the remote.

      • cadaei

        The controls for geometry wars are the pad is basically the directional dpad, and clicking fires your super weapon. If you like to play with non-auto aim then I suppose you might be disappointed. I might have had my opinion skewed by seeing the graphic awesomeness on a 55" screen though.