Blog Post

Would Apple’s Remote Deny Proper Gaming?

remoteMy Apple TV is looking for more work to do. Yes, it’s happy to be playing songs and the occasional show from my iTunes library, and surfing YouTube, but I get the sense it’s bored. Meanwhile, next to it, my Nintendo Wii is running interactive video games, downloading classic arcade titles over the Internet, and doesn’t mind being dominated through a pair of wireless game controllers. It seems to me, with a little work, the Apple TV would itself present a good platform for video games on the TV set, but there is a big stumbling block in a small package – the Apple Remote, which isn’t flexible enough to act as a serious game controller.

The iPod has a set of simple arcade games available for download from iTunes. The Apple TV has a hard drive and a network connection, capable of downloading firmware updates. It doesn’t seem too far-fetched that I could navigate my Apple TV at some future point and pull down the equivalents of Tetris, BeJeweled, Brick Breaker, or other games, through a channel parallel to that of YouTube. But even if Apple were to extend games from the iPod and iPhone to the Apple TV, for projection on attached wide screen TVs, the effort to enforce minimalism on the Apple Remote wouldn’t leave many options open for developers or game enthusiasts more comfortable with with multi-button controllers.

I’ve grown used to the Apple Remote as a great navigational tool for Apple TV, but all it offers are directional keys, a play/pause button and the Menu key. Even the addition of an iPod-like scroll wheel would be better for games than this. While I laud the intent of Steve Jobs and Apple to deliver a small, easy to handle remote for one function, it is missing the capability to expand, should the Apple TV ever graduate from a “hobby” to a real product line that Apple takes seriously. A great start to making us early adopters believe that Apple wants to move beyond the hobby stage would be to add games to the Apple TV and offer a new remote.

6 Responses to “Would Apple’s Remote Deny Proper Gaming?”

  1. Mac mini? Decent graphics chip……ok. I would love that, games on a mac mini. But, a mini take about 30-40watts from the wall max. A graphics chip that could compete with a 360 or PS3 is gonna consume at least 100watts…That ALOT of heat. Besides, a graphics card that powerful is big, it wouldn’t fit inside the mini, even if you gave it the whole case to itself you’d still struggle.

    I can dream though…

  2. Apple needed to do something about the lack of games for the OSX platform. It does appear that they’re doing something. EA released their first Mac games ever and hopefully there will be many more to come. But a Mac Mini with any decent graphics chip in it could easily become competition for any console out there at the moment. Play games and have OSX and iLife. PS3 and Xbox killer right there.

  3. Honestly, I’ve considered selling my Apple TV…I just don’t use it all that much, it just sits there. I use it to play music when I clean the house once a week……and every once in awhile when I’m completely bored I watch a few youtube movies…and if for some odd reason I miss a show, I’ll dled it…..but I really don’t use it but a few times a month…shoulda saved me monies for that iphone :)

  4. Matt Radel

    That’s an interesting thought. I didn’t consider games for the Apple TV – it would be a nice addition for a device that, IMHO, still needs some identity. It’s a little clumsy at this point – I’d like to see it do more.

  5. What’s really stopping anyone from using a different remote than what ships with the unit? From what I understand, it’s just a standard infrared port, which, theoretically, can accept an IR blasts at the right frequency.

    Really, it wouldn’t be any different from using that Universal Remote you picked up at RaidoShack. You’d just have to get the software on the unit to accept and handle the additional codes.