Gaming Could Be Apple TV’s Killer App


The new Apple TV is already a hit, having sold more than 1 million units in just three months after its release, but the device could become even more popular if it becomes a hub for social games.

New code in the next version of Apple TV’s operating system hints at gaming capabilities being added — which could lure in a whole new fan base for the broadband set-top box, and could create a whole new revenue stream for Apple. Engadget reports that new code in the iOS 4.3 beta firmware has references to “ATVGames” and “ATVThunder,” which could make it not just a streaming device but a gaming device as well.

Social gaming is already incredibly popular on other iOS devices, to the tune of 19 million users spending more than 22 minutes per day using gaming apps on their iPhones, iPads and iPhone touch devices. That’s on par with the number of viewers for popular TV programs such as Sunday Night Football and Dancing with the Stars, suggesting there could be more of an audience for games on Apple TV than for actual video viewing.

But while the introduction of new apps has been widely anticipated, creating games for the Apple TV presents a few challenges. For one thing, the device only has 8 GB of onboard memory, which isn’t really enough for a hardcore gamer to locally store a wide variety of gaming apps. That suggests that games could be limited in their functionality to start, or it’s possible that Apple TV game processing could happen in the cloud and be streamed via broadband.

The other holdback could be the Apple TV’s controller. While its minimalist design is fairly good for navigating video content on the Apple TV, it seems like it would serve less well as a gaming controller. One solution, which my colleague Darrell Etherington has suggested in the past, is to use the iPhone or iPad as controlling devices for gaming that’s displayed on the big screen, eliminating the need for a new controller.

All that said, it’s pretty clear that games will soon be coming to the Apple TV; now it’s just a question of where the processing will happen — whether it be on the device or on the cloud — and how games will be controlled.

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The pattern I’m seeing with Apple is to herd teens and young 20somethings into a world of cheap computer alternatives, over controlled music players (itunes), and of course the iphone dictatorship where lord Jobs dictates which cheesy apps make it etc. A few good apps aside, it’s a world of horribly, limited, how-can-I-spend-5-minutes-while-waiting-for-the-bus-games, and now the over rated apple TV which will take advantage of those cheeseoid games. And all this is surrounded by panting apple fans, who because they are so young, think everything typically released by apple is just “magical”. Not one teen would be caught dead without an iphone that even their parents have trouble affording when it comes to the recurring fees presented at each bill.

The fact that an apple TV can even exist pretty much proves they will buy up anything apple. An apple household phone? Sure, why not. An apple toaster with built in touch screen to adjust the darkness of their toast? Sure. Perhaps apple watches with wifi that can sync to internet time, provided it’s connected to the apple router, that’s in matching shiny, white plastic for all to see. Bet Wendy down the street will be wet when she sees all that.

And somehow the isheeple will be convinced that their apple tv is better because of some weird reason. “I leave my apple tv on day and night and it’s just soooo smooth.”. “I’m protected by apple scare, oooooh, my. Why did that protection just cost more than my TV?”. ah ah.. *vomits*

Shock Me


Media apps are low hanging fruit for any potential iOS ATV2 SDK. I suggest that instead of the herds of naive iSheeple you posit, Apple is once again turning away customers with their various bizarre restrictions.

The fact that only a million have sold says to me that Apple would still be missing the mark promoting the ATV2 as mediocre experience in an already crowded console field. Without a novel control system such as Kinect on the 360, we would see only time wasting ADD games so popular on their handset.

I don’t think these youngsters are sheep. The devices Apple makes are most useful and convenient. However, Apple is basically defining the feature set of the devices that will eat into their marketshare such as Google’s Android OS.

I have this newest ATV unit, basically for the very useful Airplay feature. But once again Apple has hobbled their living room device by being the only company in the space nto ot adopt some implementation of DNLA.

Though priced higher, other devices already provide a better experience than we can expect from the expansion of iOS games onto what would in effect be a relatively underpowered console.

Even given the popularity of casual social games on the iPad, an ATV would be relegated to last place in the console market when devices already entrenched could easily match any new feature Apple decides to include on this box..

Tim Probst

I’m not nearly as excited about games on the Apple TV as I am about seeing apps like At Bat, Pandora, and Hulu Plus on the Apple TV. My hope is that the Netflix app was just the beginning as far as third-party media content is concerned.

Ryan Lawler

Fair enough. I’m hoping that the Apple TV App store opens up soon; only being able to watch the content that Apple deems worthy of putting on the device is a little limited.


Angry Birds! But seriously Angry Birds and other iOS games would be great on a TV screen. You could used your iPhone as a touch screen controller. What would be even cooler is some of the other apps like iMovie on your TV but you are going to need a much bigger hard drive.

Shock Me

While it is a nice feature for existing owners of iOS devices, I’d say Apple would have to start bundling a wireless controller. Given the limited storage in the ATV2, I’d say if it does happen it will be for both games and media streamed from other iOS devices or come with a dual stick wireless controller ala OnLive game streaming so it can act as a stand alone device. Perhaps a free hard controller with the download and subscription to the Apple or Onlive game streaming service.


Not when there’s already numerous devices already available that do it better. Just can’t seriously envision people sitting down to play iOS games on their TV.


have you seen “onlive” its a internet based console that does gaming very well mix that in with social connect and a killer attachment to turn the iphone into a controller with 2cameras 6axis compass gps extra screen two mic (one noise canceling) and a place for headset you can listen to music have motion gaming better the the playstation move I think its something to get excited about…

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