One developer has found out that Apple TV games all must work with the remote, they can’t require an MFi controller at all. This is according to Apple guidelines in the App Programming Guide for tvOS, which states that “Your game must support the Apple TV remote. Your game may not require the use of a controller." This makes sense for Apple to do from a user experience standpoint, where they might not want to have anything on the Apple TV’s App Store that is inaccessible to people, but there are some issues to be had.
See, there are some games that support controllers that likely won’t work well with the new remote. The remote isn’t exactly great as a 2D controller like some Roku models:
But this could lead to problems. There will be games that will have control schemes that are too complicated for the remote, for sure. What if Apple rejects apps that feature terrible controls for the remote, designed only to achieve the bare minimum functionality? Or developers with complicated controls decide to skip making their app compatible with the Apple TV because it won’t be worth it? Ideally, we don’t want to get to a point where games aren’t coming to the Apple TV, or being actively rejected, because they won’t fit the remote. Rex Rocket ($1.99) might be perfect for the Apple TV but how do you fit that game on the remote?
What’s odd is that Apple apparently has made a policy change from just last week, where they did allow developers to require a controller:
— Rusty Moyher (@rustym) September 9, 2015
We’ll see how things shake out, and it’s quite possible that this winds up being a minor issue in the scheme of things, or that Apple changes their mind again. Developers will likely work around it, but we can certainly hope that their anger over Apple’s bizarre whims could lead to a better set of circumstances for them – and this decision seems likely to create games with poor remote controls and games that skip the Apple TV altogether. How does this make the Apple TV better?