From the horse’s mouth
Apple have just premiered the fourth-generation Apple TV set-top box which has answered various predictions concerning it gaining games abilities. This is amongst it premiering the iPhone 6S family, the large iPad Pro and the iPad Mini 4 – devices that Apple fanbois will be waiting outside the Apple Stores for the first sale.
This device comes with a more capable remote control which includes a microphone so you can speak to Siri. This is a similar natural-language personal assistant like you have on your iPhone or iPad.
But it is based on the tvOS operating system which will also have a development platform and app store similar to what you experience with iOS-based devices. This will also encourage the development of games for this platform.
How are you going to control the Apple TV when you are playing advanced games? These devices will use MFi-compliant Bluetooth controllers as your advanced control devices and Apple is trying to snap at the XBox One’s, PlayStation 4’s and Nintendo Wii’s heels. As well, Airbnb, Gilt and other non-entertainment companies are putting up apps for this platform. This is a function you won’t be able to gain on your existing Apple TV device, which will simply earn its keep with Netflix, iTunes, AirPlay and similar applications.
The Apple reps had demonstrated games like Guitar Hero Live to show the Apple TV’s gaming prowess and had made it feasible to continue playing games across the Apple iOS platform. The good question to raise is whether the games that are offered are as good as what is offered for the XBox One or PlayStation 4, or will they be like most smart-TV / set-top-box fodder like casual games? Similarly, could this be another attempt to open up paths for independent games studios to write games for the big screen?
What I see of this is Apple jumping in to a market that is already owned by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo and, like the Android-based consoles that have shown up before, could become very difficult waters. As well, they could work alongside Microsoft to use their regular-computer heritage to free up the big-screen gaming environment by encouraging independent games developers to write games for these devices.