Well, this is a bit of a bummer. We just got word from one of the developers who were lucky enough to win the Apple TV dev kit lottery (Who we’re not naming because we don’t want to cause more Apple TV NDA drama!) who raced out and bought a ton of MFi controllers with the hopes of making a 8 player party game. These hopes were quickly dashed as they realized that the new Apple TV will only connect to two external Bluetooth devices at once, along with the included remote. So, presuming the dev kits they’re sending out to developers have final hardware, you’re looking at only being able to play games with a maximum of three players at a time. When you try to connect an additional controller beyond this, one will disconnect.
Now, it’s always possible that this is an oversight on Apple’s part, or something they can correct with a future software update, but it really sucks if it was an intentional limitation. I was vaguely placing some mental bets on party games likely being pretty big on the Apple TV, but that’s likely not going to be the case unless your idea of a party is inviting two other people over. In this developer’s words, “Requiring support for the remote is already really terrible, but add on the fact that you can’t connect more than 2 controllers is really brutal."
It’s hard to disagree.
Update: It’s possible this is due to limitations with certain MFi controllers rather than the Apple TV itself, but either way- Whatever the cause, this is really stupid and needs to be changed.
Update 2: This may be a long-standing bug with MFi controllers and not being able to connect more than two of the same kind of controller to any iOS device, which tangentially would also potentially include the Apple TV. This type of thing rarely rears its head because just given the nature of iPhones and iPads, you aren’t going to often have more than one person playing- Much less more than two people playing. If that’s what’s happening here, it’s also really dumb, as the whole reason MFi controllers are so obscenely expensive is largely due to the cost of the MFi certification. If “Controller works when other controllers of the same kind are connected" isn’t part of those tests, it really makes you wonder what is part of the certification process.
We’re trying to track down developers who both have an Apple TV dev kit, and multiple MFi controllers that aren’t the same kind. Either way, this is all unrealistic for the end user to be expected to do. When you go out and buy multiple controllers, you get the same kind, not one of every brand to make sure none of them conflict with each other. If you’d like to help shed light on this, please get in touch with us.
Update 3: Another developer chimed in saying that they’re trying to connect all sorts of different types of MFi controllers and can only get two to stay connected at once. So much for the four LED’s on every MFi controller indicating which player they are.