apple-tv-hero-select-201510It's been a little over a month now since the new Apple TV launched. That day, we posted our first impressions of the device, and while there were (and still are) things that seem very dumb about the platform, it felt like there was loads of potential there. Over the last week or so I've been talking to many different developers who have released games or apps on the device, and the general vibe is that if things don't turn around following Christmas, Apple is going to have a real problem on their hands as "successful" apps are making $100 a day on a good day, with revenue continuing to trail off since launch. Everyone I spoke with was reluctant to be specifically sourced (effectively to avoid being the first one to complain), but the games and apps they're responsible for anyone would recognize and they live what one would assume would be healthy lives on the Apple TV top lists. Comparatively, top games on the iOS App Store are making hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars a day. Yes, the platform is still young, the install base is likely tiny, but its indicative of a bigger problem in that not even Apple can duplicate their own successes.

When the App Store launched back in 2008, it was a wild west of random indie developers, old Mac developers, and other folks just excited to try building software on a brand new platform. Obviously, as history has shown, the early birds reaped the rewards of being the first to what has since become known as the App Store gold rush. Since then, developers have similarly raced to every new software platform Apple has released, in hopes of somehow being in the right place at the right time for the next gold rush. ...Except, no second gold rush has ever come, in fact, it seems as Apple continues to release new App Store platforms, the financial rewards for participating in each have reached totally unsustainable levels for anyone who isn't fueled by too much of someone else's investor cash or is simply building software in their spare time.

I still remember the hope surrounding the launch of the Mac App Store, which since not only has developers straight up abandoning the platform due to poor customer experience, but those who stuck around make what amounts to beer money rather than any kind of serious revenue source. If you want to count the Apple Watch App Store as its own thing instead of just an extension of the iOS App Store, that's another software platform which also has largely bombed for anyone who has gotten involved. Apple Watch OS 2 was supposed to reinvigorate the Apple Watch app ecosystem, but again, have you read a single report where anyone has come out and said anything along the lines of, "Oh man, I'm so glad we invested development time in the Apple Watch, we're making so much money?"

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.25.33 PM

So, I guess, it's not much of a surprise to be hearing from developers that the Apple TV ecosystem is also pretty terrible. If you don't follow the various Apple rumor sites, chances are you didn't even know the new Apple TV is out. Apple didn't do much/any of a pre-launch marketing push to show consumers that they need to go out and buy a new Apple TV because it plays all these great games or anything else. Similarly, on the storefront side of things, it's business as usual with an editorial featuring process that involves structuring the fate of your software development studio around crossing your fingers that you're lucky enough to get featured.

The whole situation is so incredibly disappointing that I don't even know where to start. We've spent years being enthusiastically hopeful for the potential for Apple to do something with third party software on the Apple TV. If you go back and listen to any of our podcasts surrounding predictions for WWDC, the whole idea of being able to play games on the Apple TV always comes up. With that always came with the assumption that Apple was going to treat the Apple TV as a serious platform, and give developers a real reason to develop for it, instead of just sort of farting it out.

Imagine, for instance, if Sony released the PlayStation 5, but you don't follow specific Sony sites, so you didn't even know. Also, imagine that Sony worked with developers on an absolute barebones minimal level to get them to develop software for the platform, without any kind of assurance that they're going to receive any sort of promotion from the platform provider, or in the case of the Apple TV launch, even be able to be found on the storefront without searching for the specific name. That'd all seem totally insane, right?


...But that's just life for a developer looking to get involved in the Apple TV. Apple released what could've been a serious competitor in the world of set top boxes, game consoles, and other similar devices while treating it the way Apple treats all their things in that it's their party, they're doing stuff how they want, and it's up to you if you want to come along. It's worked for the world of iOS, because the iOS market and the iOS App Store has reached a point of critical mass with so much momentum that developers will put up with absolutely anything for a taste of the potential rewards. The problem is, Apple, like developers, were also in the right place at the right time with the iOS App Store. They haven't been able to duplicate that success since, and it represents a pretty worrying trend.

Back in 2011 or so, if an indie developer was making a game, you didn't even need to ask what platform it was on because of course it was iOS. Now though, how often do you hear developers saying they're specifically focusing on iOS? Lately, most of the developers I regularly follow are doing all sorts of interesting things with Sony and the PS4, are trying out Steam, or are just releasing on absolutely everything else then releasing on mobile just to toss their nets in the water and see if they can catch anything that's left. These markets are less crowded for sure, but the experience for the actual developer is also significantly less hostile. For Sony, they've got a vested interest in all these indie games doing well because they realize the incredibly important symbiotic relationship between the developer and the hardware manufacturer/platform provider.

For developers working with Sony, they're provided guidance on when to launch, how to price, hell, they're even invited to various Sony events to show their game off to excited members of the media and other gamers. Compare that to just submitting your binary up on iTunes Connect, crossing your fingers, and seeing what happens. It's just an incredible comparison, and I have no idea how Apple thinks they're ever going to be able to seriously compete in the living room space if they're not doing all these things their competitors are doing. The weird one way communication and culture of secrecy in the company isn't doing them any favors, and again, the reason developers in the iOS world put up with it is because they have to. The rewards are too great. When it comes to the Apple TV though, and potentially making hundreds of dollars? I think it's pretty easy to say "Nope."

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It might be premature to get so down on the Apple TV, as it's entirely possible that the device becomes one of the hottest gifts this holiday season which would go a long way in increasing app sales as the install base grows. However, this does nothing to solve all the problems that the non-iOS App Stores have seen and it all just feels like history repeating again. Any way you slice it, it's ridiculous to hear that revenue for super-hot, classic iOS games on the Apple TV is counted in the hundreds, and that should be something Apple has people working around the clock to try to figure out. Apple obviously cannot replicate the cultural impact of the iPhone/iPad and the iOS App Store, so they need to be competitive in other ways, which means realizing that maybe the way other platform providers do business (and have done business for longer than even the iOS App Store has even been around) is the better way to go.

  • finn

    Lol are you freaking kidding me ? Who the hell buys apple Tv ? Nobody even knows what the point of buying that thing in the first place, to play games ? gimme a break man, why would I play that when I have a ps4 sitting right in front of me, lmao.

  • Anonomation

    So iOS is officially ruined by giant money-milking companies like Rovio and EA? Or what?

    • Anonomation

      It was the point that since they're snow a standard for specific game types that it's hard for developers to earn anything?

      • Anonomation

        I think I just answered my own question, nevermind.

      • Tallgeese

        Well besides the big guns, I think Eli just made a very compelling case for why app games are (comparatively) garbage. Congratulations! You finally did it! Ahahahahaha! YOU'VE BEEN ON OUR TEAM THE WHOLE TIME! "Now though, how often do you hear developers saying they're specifically focusing on iOS? Lately, most of the developers I regularly follow are doing all sorts of interesting things with Sony and the PS4, are trying out Steam, or are just releasing on absolutely everything else then releasing on mobile just to toss their nets in the water and see if they can catch anything that's left." That sounds like I'm getting the cream of the crop for sure!

      • Autofire

        The article doesn't suggest to me that iOS games are comparatively garbage. It suggests more that the hardware is under-supported by Apple and that developers aren't seeing much return on their games there. I have a feeling it's about the fact that Apple have cornered the carry around pocket-change market, but people are happy to spend more on living room technology and that space is already better filled by other companies who support bigger developers and who utilise disc-based media and decent controllers.

  • boydstr

    In my view gaming is holding back on iOS has a great part to do with the quality of games and the way the UI works the biggest problem is the abandance of feedback if gaming brings so mutch money for Apple why don't they release an iPhone with two little joysticks this has to be technical possible and again quality games I think that for great games people want to pay accordinly.

    • Alexythimia23

      That is a great point, if gaming did really bring apple that much revenue would they not try and accommodate devs more and fix all these issues and address the potential of it? Is it that the sad truth is that in our ios gaming bubble were the only ones who care? I dunno but you raise a great point that apple would follow their nose for the money, maybe its just not that big a money maker for them as we think? Would love to hear from the ceo on how much stock they put into the gaming side for apple, surely they must know its a cash cow potentially if done right?

      • Eli Hodapp

        A company's main goal is to maximize profits, there's a major missed opportunity right now with regards to how Apple is treating its platforms and those profits are not being maximized.

      • Alexythimia23

        Then it begs the question why on earth are they missing this opportunity? Do they even know its there?! All that potential squandered, shame as they really were the leaders of the pack for a long time but does not seem to be the case anymore. Just really strange why they have not fully capitalised on the gaming and development side for ios gaming.

      • Jared Nelson

        I think by and large Apple just lucked into all their success with apps and the App Store. The thing is, they make so much damn money anyway that there's no urgency to do much to make their platforms better.

      • scottsoapbox

        This. Exactly this.

      • chief78

        Hence why MFi has yet to be a major presence in iOS gaming, among other glaring issues.

      • VirtualBoyFreak

        But Apple has to be careful: the momentum is making them make money and not feel the urgency to promote their new hardware. Unfortunately, if they don't promote Apple TV when they have to (i.e.: now), by the time they notice they have to promote it, the momentum might have stopped, all the good devs eill have quit and Apple'll need an insane amount of investment to relaunch the whole Apple TV thingie...

      • dave1964b

        I put a couple of Apple TV apps out and they only sell 1-2 copies every other day. The problem is the setup of the App Store is so bad its impossible to find any apps besides the ones they pick out and they limit the top selling list to just 50 apps (maybe thats all that sell period). Searching for apps is horribly designed. Apple needs to bring back new releases sections for every category so people can see new apps. Look at Amazon, you can search on all kinds of different parameters. Yet Apple wants to limit what the customer sees and thinks this is a good thing??? The problem is Apple is arrogant and could care less what we think, its their way or the highway. As for Mac I have actually made six figure profits on the Mac App Store several years in a row, so its not as bad as people think - but you need to charge more than a buck or two for your desktop apps.

    • Miten vitussa saan nimen ilman

      This article talks about Apple TV not iOS.

  • Aaron Sullivan

    It is disappointing to see Apple just put it out there with just a little bit of effort. There was that Wii sports game deal and definitely some work with a few developers. There _are_ tv commercials featuring some games as well. I'm not sure about the whole game controller issue. Not sure if saying you didn't have to use the remote would have been a good idea. Probably it would have been best to gear the remote a bit more towards games in some clever way.

    Overall, though, I think it's a bit early. The Apple TV is a fantastic Holiday gift. The price is reasonable, it's shiny and has an Apple on it without breaking the bank. There's still plenty of potential. I also think there are a few types of games that could really take off with integration of phones/tablets in gameplay rather than just the remote and game controllers. In other words, a game that is _just right_ could get everyone to buy in.

    There are significant challenges holding developers back making the lack of income sting even more, like the app-slicing. Disney Infinity is really problematic and I think it is meant to be there to help the platform feel legit. But the load times and the sound streaming are big issues.

    Another part of this is the lack of ads in games. I dislike ads in games, but the whole opt-in ad rewards works pretty well even for me.

    Some compelling game needs to get some popularity and advertising by Apple for the market to take off a bit. Plenty of people will buy an Apple TV and just browse over the games without much interest otherwise.

    My son loves the games where we can all play together on the big screen using our devices together. Enough compelling party games could get some traction.

    It wouldn't hurt to have an official Apple controller or at least some game controllers that have the siri button and other control buttons on it. :/

    And then, there's the rumored subscription service...

    • Neal Deep

      Goes to show how much out of touch with gaming they are.

  • Adams Immersive

    It's a shame that there hasn't been an early financial tidal wave (although I myself would love $100/day).

    But I also remember that the Apple TV app platform is a) still VERY new, b) a much smaller user base than iOS, and c) not aimed at games or apps first and foremost. Point c) is partly something Apple could promote more (including promoting controllers more), but it's also simply a matter of the needs and intentions of buyers. This is not a console—the console "competitors" are really a different beast entirely—it's a device that CAN play games but doesn't ship with a controller. Most people buy it for media, and other things are nice extras.

    Three things that could potentially help:

    - The passage of time. Rome may get build eventually. The new platform will mature, and the user base will rise. (The user base it the smallest it will ever be, right now.)

    - AppleTV support could simply be a feature that boosts sales of iPhone/iPad games. For some games, that will be worth the effort; for others not. But it won't be trackable directly as "AppleTV app profits."

    - A "killer game" that people want to play on a TV, not by touch. Especially if it doesn't need a controller. Might be AppleTV-exclusive, might be cross-platform. Might be a known big-name source, might be a surprise hit out of nowhere. But it would start the ball rolling in the minds of more users, which is where gaming success must begin.

  • Aragorn01

    Interesting article, the Apple TV AppStore sounds like it is in a sad state... :/

  • GSport

    The new Apple TV is a huge improvement over the previous version. I have been using it since the day it released, and have been very impressed with the user interface and the quality of games available so far. There is a lot of potential here. Unfortunately, I have to agree with this article though. Apple is doing a pretty crappy job promoting it. They released it in time for the holiday shopping season yet they are not capitalizing on it. They are not only going to screw themselves, they are going to screw the 3rd party developers and early adopters.

    Wake up Apple! Making a good product is not enough. You need to stand by it promote it. Maybe Tim Cook needs to step down and let someone who gives a shit take over the company.

    • Patrick Pushor

      Impressed with the interface? Really? I LOVE my Apple products but the interface of the 4th gen (new) Apple TV is dog turd bad. App quality is getting there, but still really lagging. C'mon Apple! Make me a believer!

      • Design by Adrian

        I'm upset that they made the interface white!

        The rest of the room is dark - I don't want to blast my eyes with white very time I leave an app!

  • DuckingGold

    The Emperor has no clothes, and people are finally seeing that.

  • dasaff1

    Wait til after Christmas. I'm sure there will be tons of Apple TVs under the tree

  • squirpe

    Not a surprise - Apple TV was never going to rival iPhone, and therefore iPhone App Store purchases, even remotely.

    I'm not even sure playing iOS games on a TV is really going to appeal to the masses. I tried using the AV connector and MFI controller - is ok but I'd rather play console games if I'm going to be gaming using a TV. Or instead use a PC, where you can pick up many games pretty cheap in Steam sales, etc.

  • curtisrshideler

    It's like the chicken and egg with me. I don't want to invest money on an Apple TV and pay for games on it that I may already have on iOS unless there are more games available on the Apple TV and we have a consistent amount of support. And unfortunately, the devs need money from sales to provide games and support. And Apple wants that and ATV sales. So, which will come first? That's my problem really. ATV doesn't offer me anything more than I can't get on my TV with plugging in an iPad or using apps on my PS3. And my VUDU library is much bigger than iTunes currently. Wish Apple could offer me something more in order to get me to jump aboard, you know?

    • Eli Hodapp

      That's what makes the way they treated the launch day even more puzzling to me. If you're launching something like this, it needs to come out with a bang. People need to be excited to buy one, and you need to give them the reason why they need to go out and buy it right now. System sellers very much are a thing, and it's crazy that the Apple TV was launched without one. But, really, it's just kind of continuing the way Apple handles games in that it feels like the success they've had has just been an annoying accident to them.

      • Reydn

        Apple's treatment of developers for iPhone works - but only for iPhone. For the iPad, for example, they need to allow developers to release demos, and have more flexibility in how they monetize. The iPad's software monetization should be more similar to a computer, if they want high quality, productive apps. They should also consider lowering their 30% cut to 20 or 15%. For the watch, monetization should fit the platform - same for the Apple TV.

        Apple is not used to being a PLATFORM company - they always had to make their own apps to make their OS more compelling (see iWork, iLife, etc on Mac). They don't know how to build a platform - it just sort of happened with iPhone. They are a HARDWARE company, first and only. Their services always leave much to be desired. But they make great hardware-software integration. That's it.

  • JudasKain

    The problem is that console games and mainstream mobile games are structured under very different philosophies. One is usually made for shallow quickies while the other is made for a total immersive experience.

    Things such as download size, success of ftp social games with suspect rng rates, and illusions of defeating competition via p2w, contribute to the perseverance of unimaginative, wallet-chugging mobile garbage- Thus limiting good premium options for the mobile gamer.

    To think that slapping on the apple logo on a "console" despite the dearth of games with true depth on iOS, as well as the reasons cited in the article, pretty much shows their lack of respect toward the console market.

    But we reap what we sow. Garbage sells so garbage we get.

  • iamninja

    I specifically bought my own Apple TV hoping for less lag than the last gen Apple TV. I even upgraded my mfi controller from the excellent madcatz mfi for the nimbus which Bluetooth 4.1 vs the old 2.1. None of these things help and the lag is still the same amount. Feeling disappointed -_-

    • unlimitedfury

      Lag on the device natively or AirPlay or both? My new 60 hz tv actually improved lag time, on everything. My PS2 even has no lag. AirPlay is pretty much no lag. Now the battery life problem 🙁

      • iamninja

        AirPlay mirroring.

  • Pape Storms

    If you want to blame someone then you need to put some of it on Nintendo. After the failure of the Wii-U, Apple tried heavily to convince Nintendo to put a 1st party title on the AppleTV (which was part of the reason for the delayed release). Nintendo eventually bailed out saying they would not put any "mainline" games on the platform, only casual ports of phone/tablet games.

    • spader623

      Wat? Also, you do uh know what nintendos goal is with mobile right?

  • scifistephen

    The sales of games on the Apple TV should be irrelevant,I have hundreds of games on three 128 gb iPads and most of these games should be playable on the Apple TV and certainly games released from now on.i purchase the games on any one system and they are playable on all of my systems,so even if the games are not purchased on the Apple TV itself I might purchase them on my iPad first to then download to the Apple TV.all them games I have installed on my Apple TV have been purchased on my iPad.

    • jmharper

      Unfortunately, very few games actually have cross-platform purchase with AppleTV. I've purchased tons of games for my phone and iPad, and was surprised at how little crossover there was.

  • scifistephen

    I bought the 64 go model to have some games to play on the big screen and at the same time having some games on the Apple TV saves space on my iPads

  • tommet

    Shocked. Not.

  • maarrs

    I don't know; San Francisco right now is literally *plastered* with Apple TV billboards. I wouldn't say they didn't do any advertising or outreach so far. And as for other platforms, we had some pretty great success launching on Apple Watch. But I know that hasn't been everyone's experience. I'm still optimistic for the platform as it gets its legs, and as a user I especially hope that game discovery gets easier. Looking forward to launching our game on Apple TV this week, will see how it goes.

  • EvanJO14

    But people buy games on iPads and such and they go straight to the tv as isn't that revenue? Are developers reading the numbers wrong?

  • Agkelos

    I don't believe the Apple TV, as it currently is, can begin to compete with established consoles. When you take in all the flaws and deficiencies of the ecosystem regarding the business-side of things from development to end-user service trends, Apple still has a long way to go. It also doesn't seem like Apple is willing to change its practices any time soon, either. I really don't believe Apple have much hope as a serious gaming console competitor without some major policy changes.

    • Clifford

      But it's never been the idea that Apple TV competes with consoles. Console gaming is a completely different experience with a different audience.

  • DemoEvolved

    The stock itv control is horrible for gaming. Far far more limited that a direct touch screen. Apple does not want to do wii- like pointer hand / mouse cursor for interface. Input amounts to 4 directions of swipe, "A" button and Back. Much less precision than pixel perfect edge to edge trace. While adequate for Netflix, even fine iOS games like Geometry Wars just won't play well without more control. On top of that, the quality of apps is bad: fireplace apps, screensavers, worldwide webcams. Apple has cultured a customer that expects games for <2.99, but without ads there is no way to fund a rich game experience on that. Crossy Road is probably the best you'll see in terms of input compatibility, for 6 months.

    • DemoEvolved

      The itv remote is like the Xbox 360 kinect except instead of your arm you use your thumb, and there is no cursor onscreen to tell you where your hand is unless it's over a button. Just imagine designing for that

  • Trent

    I understand that the developers or games can't be mentioned specifically but I didn't see it mentioned if these apps were AppleTV only apps. That's a really important piece of context here.

    If you really want to play games on your TV then you probably have a console or gaming PC hooked up to it already. In that case you're talking about a device who's primary focus is NOT gaming, has a small install base, and a handicapped input system competing against dedicated gaming devices.

    On the other hand if you have a universal app that runs on iPhone, iPad, and AppleTV I could see a few hundred dollars a month being a good thing. I hate to reduce all the work that developers do but essentially we're talking about a new screen size and 2 new control schemes (the including siri remote and a gaming control). However, if those things can be worked into your game and thereby increase your apps perceived value, increase revenue, or increase exposure it seems like a good idea regardless.

  • Stephen

    I think the article is missing the point. The AppleTV shouldn't be compared to iOS as a separate platform.
    Instead, it should be considered the same platform. If an app has proper iCloud syncing between iPhone and AppleTV, then the user would be more likely to spend more money on the app. Even if they make the actual purchase on the iPhone.
    Personally, I've already purchased several games on iPhone that come with the AppleTV version, when I may not have otherwise purchased that game. That money would likely be counted as iPhone and not AppleTV, even though I was buying it with AppleTV in mind.

    And again, considering that it's only been a month, trying to compare how much money you're making this early is ridiculous. The iPhone was out for practically a year before the AppStore even became a thing, so you're still not matching oranges to oranges.

    • Stephen

      Besides, most individuals would love to see that $100 per day hah

      • unlimitedfury

        Split it among three people (very low estimate for an indie studio) and take 30% off of that. Equates to $26 for months of work.

      • mrkite77

        $100/day is pretty much what the teenager working at your local fastfood joint is making.

      • Stephen

        Where do you live? Because I highly doubt a fastfood teenager is going to be making $3000 a month.

      • mrkite77

        $12/hr for fastfood work isn't rare, in fact, there was just a strike to raise the minimum to $15/hr.

        "Already, the protests have seen success, with Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle all citing the demonstrations as the main impetus for upping their minimum wage to $15 an hour, plus McDonald’s, Target and Walmart also agreeing to a higher starting wage."

      • Stephen

        Even at $12 per hour, you'd have to be working 8-hours per day to be making $100/day. Most fast-food teenagers are not going to be working 8-hour days. And not every day.
        You're looking more at $100-200 per-week, rather than per-day.

  • yepyepyep

    $100 a day seems right.

    I'd say the install base is small.

    Most of the folks on Macrumors forums purchased it for video streaming it seems.

    The requirement for games to work with the remote is what is really ruining gaming on the Apple TV.

    Playing games using the remote is a horrible experience...

    Edge: horrible
    Geometry wars: horrible

    Badlands: ok, but let's get into that!

    Apple is promoting one-touch games!!!
    And cornering the special needs market! I'm kinding...
    But I don't see the point of these types of games on a large screen. Pressing on the remote is a completely different experience then using an iPhone or iPad... And... It sucks!

    And that's it! I'm not going to play or purchase one touch games to play on my tv.

    When Apple drops the remote requirement... and they definitely will, with no "oops we were wrong" but with "now you can play good games made for a proper controller"!!! Then gaming on the Apple TV might be enjoyable!

    • Autofire

      Agree 100%. It's as if Pele entered Wimbledon

  • stelluhreyesthis

    The Apple TV is in a weird place, I don't think it was pitched correctly either. But I also think mobile games on your tv isn't going to fly, I think people's perception of a GIANT flat screen tv isn't, oh great now I can play that game I played on my phone waiting in line earlier, the TV is what your doing for a while not a quick thing to kill time momentarily. I play games on my phone sometimes while watching Netflix on Apple TV, I think a lot of people do, and I don't see myself doing the opposite.

    • stelluhreyesthis

      P.s. I think games BUILT FOR the Apple TV is where it will eventually (hopefully) shine.

      • Clifford

        Agree. Ports of iOS games aren't going to take off. I can just pick up my iPhone or iPad.

  • nini

    I still think Sony and Apple are cultivating two different ecosystems, nobody really breaks out their profitability on the PlayStation Store so they must be fine, right? Can't say unless there's steady profit there and none in the App Store, doesn't really matter how they do the pre-release prep because people are there to play games so offering them smaller scale games in a way smaller ball pit than Apple has is going to be easier, seems like you've got a captive audience already and you can offer a more dedicated service to your devs because that's your primary focus. Apple's has been more akin to "pile it high, sell 'em cheap" with little guidAncd

    • nini

      *guidance regardless of your general status, game developer or not. it's not a faulty comparison and is one they could follow like suggested, just this device isn't a gaming device but if you're going to bill it as such then I guess be prepared to make those devs feel like they matter in a way the regular App Store process doesn't, guide them and curate for higher quality games of all types including casual and core games.

  • islesfan

    Gaming is still a nice side benefit to the new AppleTV. I've really been enjoying it, but I have to say, I once found a full list of available apps in the AppleTV App Store, but I've never been able to find that again. I can't remember how I got there, and all I can find is the "top 20" apps anymore. Fibbage is the best, by the way!

  • bvesco

    Did someone actually think ATV was going to be huge for games? Someone other than Apple marketing and execs, I mean.

  • ra51

    I'd be pretty happy if I was getting $100 a day.

    • Reydn

      But what if you invested hundreds of hours, at $80/hour, into it?

    • Edwin Ramirez

      $100 a day would be great if you published an app you built on your spare time and as a hobby or side project and you built it by yourself.
      But that's the money developers are getting for their several months invested into a full time project.

    • mrkite77

      Then get a job. That's $12 an hour. You don't even need a highschool diploma to make that.

  • Patricia Anaka

    I think they were afraid to scare off the mainstream by positioning the thing as a games device and bundling it with a controller. But without that, games are hamstrung and there isn't much left to recommend it above other streaming devices. Apple has benefited enormously by the games presence on iOS and they didn't have to compromise their vision -- they got devs to work with slimy touch screens and inaccurate controls because there was a shit ton of money to be made. With Apple TV they are facing a different situation, and they may have blown it by not acknowledging the importance of games to this new platform by bundling a controller. The MiFi compatibility is just a waffling half step that isn't enough to start any kind of revolution.

    • TheGodless

      They could have offered different versions like the new Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition.

  • TheGodless

    Just look at Apple TV like the PlayStation and Xbox consoles and consider that Apple has failed to do the two most important things to make a "console" and the console's games successful: 1) They have failed to invest in any kind of media blitz or put much money or thought into advertising at all and 2) failed to give consumers any reason to buy in. Apple TV needs to offer something that people can't get anywhere else and it shouldn't be a feature that Apple users used to be able to do (connecting their phones to a TV with a $15 cord to play movies and videos) until Apple took the ability away so that they could try to monetize it. I'm talking about Apple starting Apple TV with a few killer exclusive apps and an exclusive hit TV show or two and maybe a free stream of a movie that just hit theaters or that isn't out on home video yet. Starting with such good reasons for people to buy in would have likely had a different result and adding those reasons now may be able to turn the whole thing around, but with the price point being so low and Apple not set to make much money off of the sales of their "console" and the vast majority of their app sales already doing well, it will take a radical shift in direction for Apple to save their sinking Apple TV ship and that's unfortunately not as likely now that the company has entered it's conservative phase. Once Apple got all of the money, it seemed like their focus shifted to doing what was necessary to keep the money rather taking innovative risks that could turn into world changing successes. Instead, we get an Apple TV that doesn't do anything new and that is a few years behind the curve and that is apparently a huge flop.

    • Clifford

      But Apple hasn't made a "console". That was never the intention.

      • TheGodless

        I am aware of that, but the same rules apply with regards to them needing exclusive killer content and advertising the heck out of it to let people know why they need it.

  • unlimitedfury

    The market is geared towards shitiness. A lot of "gamers" if you could call them that, play F2P that I see. My own brother who got me into games, only plays F2P. He got me started with Final Fantasy, Street Fighter and Zelda. It sucks and Apple doesn't really care. 😔

    • InTheAir

      The market only been acting like this since it's flooded with kids who don't know about hardcore games and don't have taste in decent games. It's going to be interesting what happens when more and more kids grow up with their phones and will start to influence more actual games.

  • Mario Wynands

    The strategy for PikPok with regard to Apple TV at this stage has been to target it as an incremental platform on top of mobile, rather than to target it immediately with games that only exist on Apple TV. In that way, even if games don't monetize well directly on Apple TV, they can at least encourage people to download and play the mobile versions as well (our current Apple TV game, Breakneck, allows players to move back and forth between the mobile and Apple TV versions via iCloud progress saving). At a minimum then, we believe Apple TV can be a useful acquisition channel for multiplatform titles.

    We have our next Apple TV game coming out next week which shares a similar strategy.

    Over time we may move to create games exclusively built and optimized for Apple TV, but we consider it too early to assume that is a viable strategy at this time, as the article above seems to support. On the other side of Christmas there will be a lot more Apple TV units out there, so we'll see where it goes from there.

  • Егор Бочаров

    Well, as an early adopter of the 4th gen Apple TV, I don't think it's difficult to understand, why:
    - Install bases of iOS-based devices and the 4th gen Apple TV are incomparable.
    - The tvOS AppStore currently does not have categories, or even a New Releases section. You don't know a game or an app was released unless you search the charts. I presume it's done not to show the fact there are just a few apps in every category as of now, but it makes browsing stuff and finding something new to play tremendously difficult.
    - There's no API in the current tvOS to support in-game adds. Thus you are left with either in-app purchases of premium options. Users are spoiled with free games on iOS, and you don't find too many of them on the tvOS AppStore. Not many people are ready to pay up front, like in early days of the AppStore. For me it's not really an issue, but for many users I believe it is.

  • Aaron C

    Having both developed for iOS and have friends that currently do so, I've spoken to Apple people a number of times and been invited to special developer events and so on. They do give advice on when to launch, pricing etc, they do invite people to events to show stuff off etc etc. I guess there's just a lot more people throwing out apps onto their platform.

    It's still such early days, they're clearly in the TV thing for the long haul, and this is them testing the water, I think to write it off so soon would be unwise. It'll take a while for more apps to get released on the ATV, which will spur more sales of hardware, thus spurring more sales in the app store and so on...

    • Aaron C

      Better support in Unity/Unreal will also help things along!

      • scottS

        Yeah, this is another thing Apple is fighting against as far as games are concerned. They don't want you using those cross-platform environments; Swift /Metal apps get you a higher priority in their food chain.

  • Hexyz

    At the rate of how quickly Apple pumps out a new device, I can definitely see people just being wary altogether.

    iPhone 6c is coming out relatively soon, then followed by the 7, and then 6 months or so later the 7s, and you know where this is going. They always have something else coming out that's "bigger and better" than the previous iteration.

    In my opinion? That can be a little overwhelming. You buy the iPad Pro tomorrow and in 6 months, Apple is releasing something potentially better. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo? They, as consoles, stand the "test of time" for around 10 years before releasing something new.

    I've always thought of Apple has a money-hungry machine, anyway, and I wouldn't necessarily want to keep throwing my money at them.

    The constant removal of games from the App store, the deletion (and eventual restoration) of everyone's Wishlist on the App store.. I just don't see Apple standing toe-to-toe for very much longer at this rate. It's going to just push good Developers to other platforms where they may just stop "casting their net" into the Apple sea to catch whatever is lagging behind.

  • Chad W

    The problem isn't the platform; it's the awful apps on the platform. The best games on Apple TV are the free ones. Nearly everything that costs a penny or more is absolute crap. Seriously, have you tried any? The lack of decent app development on the platform is just appalling. I've had to ask for a refund numerous times because the game(s) didn't even play correctly (e.g. Bowling Central which spins the ball the wrong way and is utterly pointless, or Beat Sports, which spontaneously stopped working after two weeks). Crossy Road (free), Asphalt (free), and Air Wings (free) are some of the only genuinely entertaining games. And don't get me started with the lack of Amazon Prime.

    I'm not defending Apple here, though. I've been astounded at the uselessness of Siri 80% of the time, the lack of basic essentials like a mute button, and the general bugginess of the device. I'm already on my second Siri remote, which thankfully Apple replaced for free.

  • GSport

    The remote is an awesome as a remote. As a controller... Not so much.

  • anon_coward

    IAP works on devices that are used on the go when people want to kill time. in the home people want quality and pay once for it without being IAP'd to death

  • Ugur

    Apple sorta already semi threw the Apple TV under the bus with what they did over the past few years hence why they sorta have to start from zero again now.
    I read several comments saying the Apple TV is such a new platform, give it time.
    But no, the Apple TV platform is not new, it has had many years.
    The only reason we talk about it as "new" is that Apple has not upgraded it for a long time before and also has not added app store support for the previous versions for a long time.
    To me it looks like that was mainly to focus on the Apple Watch dev and release and hence they postponed the Apple TV hardware and software upgrade for a long time.
    Why is that an important distinction?
    Because now they launched an upgraded hardware and software revision, but so much time has passed since the last one that the hardware of that model is too outdated to run the current OS and apps of the current standard.
    So now we're at a place where a 4th gen device comes out and an app store on it but the install base for app customers is zero since the older hardware iterations don't run the new OS and app store.
    That is a very different situation to the launch of the iOS Appstore where there was a good while of devices being sold until the app store was introduced and that was then running on all devices sold until then.
    So with the introduction of the iOS app store there was already a ready audience and installed user base.
    So sales could be much better from day 1 of the app store.
    So that coupled with the special point in time where there were no nice mobile apps yet and hungry for apps customers on a device which could handle them lead to early ones doing really well.

    So that's one huge issue for the new Apple TV, app store starting with zero customers install base.

    Then many other big issues were nicely outlined in the article, among those the app store itself and how it hides away most of the apps is definitively the biggest issue to me.
    It is really an unacceptable situation and if Apple does not change this very soon, app sales for all besides 100 apps will be just as horrible as they are now, even if the device sells gangbusters over christmas, purely because all besides around 100 apps are completely invisible on the store. You can't sell what noone can buy cause noone sees it.

    The part that makes me really depressed about this and really weiry about the platform is that that part is intentionally done.
    It is very obviously intentionally done by Apple that they only show very few apps, very few (and in most countries no) categories and hide away most apps as much as possible, totally feeling like hey, it's our store, we decide whether anyone sees your content at all or not.
    And when they introduced the first few categories in the US app store for the Apple TV they made the situation even worse, because the new categories still don't show all or even just most apps in those categories, instead again only a handful of featured ones.
    Before there were any categories, users were forced to use the search. It was horrible, but at least thanks to users having to search there was some chance that by accident users would stumble over your app.
    Now that there are these pseudo categories but still most apps not shown on them, users use the horrible search less, hence then even less a chance for them to stumble over an app by chance at least.
    So it is a very hostile stance of Apple against all of their devs besides the around 100 featured apps.

    And this very hostile stance against devs, yeah, is no good and is threatening all devs and ultimately then also the platform in the long term.

    And i totally agree with the author, Apple could treat devs like that on iOS due to the very unique circumstances which lead to a gold rush there thanks to at least the top 100 des making really good money.
    Though even there the pixy dust has worn off as more and more realize that all others besides the top 100 make very few nowadays and that coupled with the billion apps available and meanwhile there, too only a few hundred being featured and hence noticeable to potential customers makes for a very bad quota of which percentage of devs can actually earn their living on the app store nowadays without having to rely on sleezy milking tactics.
    While Sony a lot and even MS and Nintendo to some extend push to make their platforms more attractive to devs, Apple has done the polar opposite and the iOS App Store is more hostile to devs than it ever was and the Apple TV App Store launched in even way worse, way more hostile way than that.

    On the Apple TV and Watch App Store, i think Apple will not be able to be very successful in the long term while treating devs in such hostile way what with all the surrounding parts about the platform making it way less attractive to devs in first place.

    It's a huge bummer, because yes, it is a platform with a lot of potential and i'd love to do more on it, but Apple really has to change their stance and methods before it's too late.

  • CRASH_Override

    Interesting that Xbox was completely ignored in the article. They just launched Windows 10 on it, essentially meaning any indie dev that can build for Windows 8/10 can now build as a universal app, basically getting Xbox One support for free, when that service is available. And, people on consoles are willing to spend money. I think this is the biggest disruptor for Apple and their games on TV plans.

  • bryan james

    How much do Sony devs pay to get the PS4 dev kit? $99 a year?

  • misterK

    Apple TV still in Diamond 5.
    A worrying trend for Apple.

  • Robert Lee King

    Eli made the statement that iOS developers are making thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. This has not been true for many many years. On average, iOS developers earn coffee money each day. The fortunate few, less than 1% earn the big money.

    • Eli Hodapp

      I'm comparing the top grossing games on the Apple TV to the top grossing games on the iOS App Store. The numbers are correct.

      • Robert Lee King

        Then you're comparing apples and cumquats. The top sellers represent less than 1/10th of 1% of iOS developers. Especially considering the bulk of Apple TV apps are not from big iOS sellers.

      • Eli Hodapp


  • JustTheFacts

    It's been on sale for around 30 days. There's no install base yet. This isn't just click bait, its unethical. You've lost my respect as a reader.

  • Yojimbo

    After clash of clans my casual iOS /android gaming days are over. I'm bored of the hourly grinds of these freemium games and the mindless reptitiveness. I'm a gamer dammit! I'm going back to PS4/Xbox/PC and 3DS/vita where action, storytelling, true multiplayer, AAA visuals, sound and acting are in abundance. Last few months I realised I could had been playing more Witcher, Fallout, final fantasy 14, starcraft 2, bloodborne, destiny, rise of tomb raider, pokemon, etc instead of crappy tablet/smart phones clash, saga, click here - wait 30mins before ur next click type of sham gaming! !!! Consoles and PC gaming have an ending .. sigh what an amazing feeling of escape and freedom.

    • Eli Hodapp


      • Yojimbo

        Haha enjoy your app 'crack'.

  • bdkennedy11

    Apple blew it by not launching with killer apps and missing WWDC. The Apple TV store is a wasteland of garbage - fireplace simulators, calculators, games that look like they were ported from the Nintendo 64. Every Tuesday I go through the App Store hoping to find something to get excited about, but so far, it's just a Hulu box for me.

    Crossy Road? I was done with it in 15 minutes.

    • Lamar Taylor

      I bought a controller and assumed better games would be out by now but so far nothing.

  • DBrown519

    This is why I game on my Xbox One/Xbox 360 now. I am over Apple now, and I want games to unlock achievements on my Xbox account.

  • DanKetch

    There's a new Apple TV?

  • JeffFromFFP

    Thank you for the article and all the constructive comments. As a struggling indie game dev I had wondered how apps were doing on the ATV. This follows with what I had anticipated and I really don't see the landscape changing regarding gaming on the ATV based on the comments on the article.
    We contacted Apple regarding moving our first game to the ATV because as a fun, free, platform game with many hours of game play we thought it would be a perfect fit to what Apple was trying to break into (game wise) on the ATV. As expected, it was all crickets. It would take about a week to move to ATV but when you are already thousands of hours and dollars in the hole we decided to continue developing other titles to focus on the much larger iOS base.
    I know this is toucharcade 🙂 but I wonder if it makes more sense to port to Mac OS X than ATV. In the mid 90's (before some of you were born 🙂 I developed shareware games like Bedlam and Temple Tantrum and they were much more successful than our efforts to date, $20k back then verses only $20 today.
    We are continuing to make games because it is our passion. For any indies wanting to get into the scene today just realize you will need a real job to feed you and your family. The good news is that anyone can create a game and put it on the App Store. The bad news is exactly the same. 🙂

  • DavetheDave

    This "weird one way" communication, and crossing your fingers hoping for fate, is also what happens on Steam. On Google Play, even less editor eyes on your app. And I love TouchArcade, but it's also happening when sending an email to TouchArcade, for that matter (I've written half a dozen to a dozen times, but never in my life received a reply). I do not complain -- how would TA possibly be able to answer all or even most emails? -- it's just the sign of many gatekeepers that have more content than spots to pick.

    (I just want to repeat: I love TouchArcade.)

  • Komodovaran

    I don't know what we had hoped for. You can now play your single-click 5-minute flicks on your TV. So what? People aren't going to spend wild amounts of money on outfitting their set top boxes, and any game downloaded to the TV is thanks to cross purchasing on the App Store. It's going to continue to perform its duty as a Netflix/HBO/AirPlay, and no demographics were shifted, and no new opportunities for anyone really.