Apple TV To Wage War On Controllers

When Steve Jobs announced the iPhone in 2007, he famously derided the “smart phones” of the era for wasting 40 percent of their real estate on buttons for the keyboard. You can read his annotated keynote on Genius. The new way of interacting with touch devices was a war on buttons and ushered in a new era of smartphones.

The Apple TV is fairly well-established as a set top box and is in millions of homes already with Apple Insider reporting that another 24 million Apple TV’s could find their way into homes in 2016.

For the first time, the latest, new iteration of Apple TV will support gaming. Sure, it will be significantly under-powered compared to top-tier consoles, but much as mobile encourages lightweight, fun games, Apple TV has the potential to tap into that rather large market without competing directly with the established players.

The default Siri remote, shipped with the Apple TV, is not, however, a very capable game controller. On September 9, the official line was that Apple TV games could require third-party game controllers, but Endgadget subsequently reported that all tvOS games developed for Apple TV would need to support the official remote; offering third-party Apple TV controllers as an added-extra, not a core requirement, would still be acceptable.

Such limited controls might restrict the games that can be successfully ported to Apple TV to the level of sophistication of games one finds embedded in the entertainment systems in the backs of airline seats.

Rather than reinventing how games are controlled and played, limiting developers to effectively a two button plus touchpad system might be simplifying things too much. Prior to the launch, Apple followers were speculating about all kinds of possibilities, including iPhone controlled games, and major titles being ported to Apple TV (albeit in less graphically-intense forms).

Instead, it appears Apple TV will focus on offering simple games, controlled by a simple controller. It is likely developers will still be able to deliver some fun games to users, but the hope that a significant amount of (scaled down) console-style gaming would make it onto the Apple TV platform appears to be diminishing. Ars Technica writes that even if some of those titles do make it to the Apple TV, there will likely be significant “design compromises.”

Apple is, of course, still free to change this policy. If not, we could see a very different type of game being played using a very simple controller become the core of the gaming experience on the Apple TV.

[Images courtesy of Apple]