Amazon Fire TV (Gaming)

At this point, I think we can all agree that the state of gaming on the current generation Apple TV leaves a lot to be desired. Yes, it’s possible in some respects, through AirPlay, but it’s clunky, laggy, and never quite lived up to its potential.

With the new Apple TV, however, things will surely get better. In fact, I think that gaming is going to really hit its stride on Apple platforms with the advent of the new gaming-centric features on Apple’s upcoming refresh to its set top box.

As we discussed in the last episode of Let’s Talk iOS, gaming is set to take a gigantic leap with Apple TV gen-4. In this post, I’ll outline 5 reasons why avid gamers should start licking their chops at the potential of the device that Apple is set to reveal next Wednesday.

Bigger, faster, stronger

The current-gen Apple TV 3, while faster than its predecessor, leaves a lot to be desired in the speed department. It comes bundled with a single-core A5 system on a chip, a paltry 512MB of RAM, and a measly 8GB of on-board flash storage. In other words, it didn’t turn many heads back in 2013, and it’s definitely not turning heads today.

Thankfully, the new Apple TV will be much beefier from a technical perspective. It’s rumored to feature at least an A8-level chip, which is dual core (tri-core in the case of the iPad Air 2’s A8X), and runs circles around the old A5 found in the current-gen Apple TV.

The new Apple TV will also likely feature more RAM for a smoother gaming experience. I’d expect, at minimum, that we’ll see 1GB of RAM, if not 2GB of RAM included in the new set top box.

No battery bottlenecks

This is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of the Apple TV from a gaming perspective. When we think of gaming on the Apple TV, we immediately think of gaming on an iOS device. But it’s not that clear cut…

Because all of Apple’s other iOS-based devices run on batteries, they have to be extra conscious of power consumption, and thus are more prone to CPU throttling. Since the Apple TV has no batteries, it can keep its foot firmly on the gas pedal when it comes to CPU clock speed, catering to extra RAM, and virtually anything else that normally has to tip toe around battery management.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the upcoming Apple TV refresh will be careless and inefficient when it comes to power consumption, but not having to worry about battery life is a huge win for gaming and other processor-intensive tasks.

Apple TV Power Cable

The Apple TV power cord—an unheralded difference maker

The App Store

Having a true App Store is an obvious win for gamers. If you want to play games on your current-gen Apple TV, you’ll need to use AirPlay mirroring from an iOS device. I think all of us can firmly attest to the fact that AirPlay mirroring equals a subpar gaming experience, and has been a disappointment overall.

Being able to run apps natively on the next-gen Apple TV not only opens up a potentially vast library of games, but it also means that games will run like they do on other consoles and set top boxes.

With iOS devices like the iPhone and the iPad, Apple has proven that it’s a force to be reckoned with in the gaming space. Its handheld devices have ate into a lot of the profits normally reserved for handheld gaming staples like Nintendo and Sony, and now Apple gets its first real shot at our living rooms. And yes, this truly is the first shot; the Pipin doesn’t count.

Pippin

Apple’s first gaming console—the Pippin

Real input device

The current-gen Apple TV remote is terrible for just about everything—even navigating simple menus in the Apple TV interface. It’s unquestionably horrible for any sort of gaming, and using an iPhone via AirPlay as a controller is a laggy experience at best.

With the new Apple TV, not only will we have better input options by means of the rumored Wii-inspired motion remote, but there have also been rumblings of true 3rd-party Bluetooth controller support.

Having a real gaming input device legitimizes Apple’s foray into living room gaming. If it wants to capture more than just casual gamers, and if it wants to be seen as a legitimate gaming platform, the new Apple TV will need to support traditional input devices for gaming.

Stratus SteelSeries wireless gaming controller (front, black 001)

A traditional gaming input device can make a difference

Continuity

Apple has already proved that it’s really good at providing continuity features between apps running on iOS and apps running on the Mac. Now it can do the same for gaming on portable devices and gaming on the living room screen.

Imaging for a moment, playing a game while sitting on your couch; you’re really deep into the game, and you’re just about to beat the final boss that you’ve been trying to defeat for the last few days. All of the sudden, you get a phone call and you have to leave. Imagine picking up your iPhone, hopping on the train, and picking up right where you left off.

Other console manufactures have tried to venture into this territory in the past, with mixed results at best. Apple is already doing it with apps between its iOS devices and the Mac, and it could probably pull off similar results with gaming.

Conclusion

Next Wednesday, we’ll know a whole lot more about how serious Apple is taking its entrance into living room gaming.

I don’t know about you guys, but I am extremely excited for the new Apple TV and its gaming potential. If Apple pulls this off right, it can pick up right where it left off on iOS—making inroads on the territory traditionally dominated by gaming powerhouses like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.

What do you think? Are you excited for the new Apple TV as a gaming platform? Drop us a line down in the comments and let us know.

  • James G

    I’m equally excited but equally expecting some level of let down in typical Apple fashion…gets us all excited and then only gives us a taste of what we want. It will be up to developers to deliver on the cross-platform gaming experience and I’m not sure how quick they’ll be to do just that.

  • Al

    As much as I’m intrigued by the upcoming Apple TV. But as far as a compelling gaming device compared to an Xbox One or PS4… That’s a far stretch.

  • Merman123

    To me it’s more of a nice plus than a highlight feature. I think consoles have a huge step inside this territory that it’s hard to compete.

    • Yes, but the same could have been said for handheld consoles like the GameBoy and the PSP and PS Vita, no? Those consoles, too, had a huge head start, more power, more history, but eventually, we know what happened. It won’t be immediate, but give it a few revisions…

      • Merman123

        Right, but I still think gamers prefer handheld gaming devices over an iPod or iPhone. The thing about these devices is that they are not upgraded every year so you get the false impression that they are not popular anymore because they don’t sell like they did at launch. When really most people already own the latest. Same thing happens with these next gen consoles. Sales drop dramatically because there are no new renditions like iPhone’s have. And so we start to believe that the iPhone is the ultimate gaming device because everyone buys them and games are available. Casual gaming is perfect territory for iPhone/Apple TV. But I’ll take my Psvita over my iPhone running the same game. That’s why it’s hard for me to see the Apple TV transcend into gaming unless it becomes solely a gaming machine. It’s like the software in my PS4. It has Netflix and Hulu on there, but yet I take the time to switch to my Apple Tv everytime.

  • Elias Chao

    If they will ship an 8GB version, and the games come with great graphics, you’d be only able to install around 5 good games.

  • Vince Reedy

    Apple will slow walk the features for this too… meanwhile the baby birds will be starving.

  • if the price is low and has big storage
    i think i will be something big

  • Sofakingstepwit

    I’m excited to see what they have but that’s because I like new Apple stuff, I think. I think the new TV/video based stuff will be good but I’m not so sure about the gaming aspect.

    The gaming side could be good but I doubt it’ll fulfill it’s potential. They will not include a legit controller, meaning you’ll have to buy a third party controller. This means that developers can’t count on everybody having a real controller, thus will build to the lowest common denominator, the included controller. The remote/controller probably won’t be the best for gaming which will mean that we will, by and large, get limited simplistic games.

    Gaming continuity sounds cool, in theory, but it probably won’t be. Anything that uses continuity would need to be playable on a touchscreen and a TV. I don’t want to play touchscreen games on a TV and I don’t want to play TV games on a touchscreen. Neither of those is a particularly good experience. I’m sure there will be a game or two that is the exception but overall, it’s not something I’d be interested in.

    TLDR : TV/Video aspects will be good, gaming aspects will have potential but won’t live up to it.

  • Here’s to hoping existing Apple TV owners won’t get shot in the foot and will receive a much needed software update enabling things such as an AppStore. I doubt it since it’ll hurt sales of new Apple TV devices but it’d be a nice gesture from Apple to early Apple TV adopters.

  • Anonymous

    Im excited to see what they do. But im not competely sold on the idea. I have my ps4. And mac mini set up as a lagacy gaming plateform 😉 which work great. I would like to be able to use my ps4 controller as the controller for the apple tv4 if they are not going to supply their own hard ware.

  • bsquarewi

    While the prospect of gaming is going to be popular, I’m personally looking forward to (and very much hoping) that the AppStore for AppleTV will allow more TV Client software. Plex, XBMC, MediaPortal, AirVideo, etc. That (IMHO) will be HUGE. No more needing to build mediaPC’s, wishing for an AppleTV jailbreak or running some hacked android media player with half-baked interfaces.

    • Dan

      That would be great, but I highly doubt the new Apple TV will have a usb port or even let you install something such as XBMC. If it does, I might have to buy it!

  • iPhoneWINS

    Yup apple is about to bring the gaming industry back to life… the graphics won’t be top level but the very cheap game prices will get consumers excited again..

  • Disqus

    Games, games, games. What is the deal with video games? I wish they didn’t exist. Sick of hearing about video games. Will be lovely to witness humanity collectively drooling and speaking in grunts, mashing buttons on their game controllers, or whatever device. Hell it’ll be every device. Everything everywhere..big bright colored buttons. Pictures; indecipherable words, if they even exist at all. I think I’ve seen a movie about what happens to humanity…….

    • Um… okay. To be clear, I’m not some gaming fanatic. But I do like to play with friends from time to time.

      • Disqus

        The comment wasn’t directed at you personally. It was a broad stroke of the brush. Talking about Americans mainly, but I would definitely include that pie kid on YouTube and the rest of his ilk.

      • Umut Bilgiç

        Dude only people who enjoy pewdiepie are kids who love being yelled at. No real gamer actually like those kind of youtubers anymore since they gave up their original personality for the sweet money. Gaming is the same thing as doing any other hobby, it enchances certain aspects of life 🙂

      • Disqus

        No. At this point, it’s bovine manure. You people the world over are consumed by ‘games’ be they electronic or otherwise. Enjoy your Brawndo.

    • iPhoneWINS

      lololol

  • Victor Molina

    For gaming. I would pick my ps4 over an Apple TV any time. Most gamers already have and ecosystem around their console or pc. There not gonna throw away all there games, trophys and etc to waste money on a lil box that most likely won’t have games that are 10 gbs and run 1080 60 fps.

  • xxFoxtail

    They’ll have to give us more than the rumored 8gb and 16gb space if we’re going to get any decent games with it

  • MvP77

    I currently have a nvidia shield android TV box and I love it. Gaming on it is great. Good games for it right now. The best feature is the game streaming. Being able to play games like the Arkham series and Boarderlands works great. The streaming service has been free since I got it in June, just waiting on them to announce a price for it.

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