Tomorrow is the spring keynote event from Apple and a lot of rumors have been flying around the twitter sphere. From new iMacs to new iPads, tech reporters are looking for big updates to the usual suspects and the first major iMac design refresh in a decade to breathe new life into a stagnant product line. While I think a refreshed iMac that borrows from the iPad Pro can be great, I’m more interested in Apple finally taking gaming seriously. It’s time to let the Apple TV mature into a true killer entertainment platform. Let’s look at 5 ways a refreshed Apple TV could be the next big thing in gaming.
1. Performance Upgrades
If we learned anything from the new M1 MacBooks, it’s that Apple silicon is fast. Not just in video editing, but in gaming as well. Youtube has 100s of videos showing AAA games with respectable settings running smooth on the M1 MacBook Pro. By upgrading the Apple TV to native Apple silicon and taking lessons learned from the iPad, the Apple TV could have serious gaming chops.
2. Focus on Top Tier Publishers
Let’s face it, Apple Arcade has been a big let down. While there are a few successful indie hits, the majority of the games are lackluster at best. If Apple wants to take gaming seriously, they need to sign deals with major publishers to create new experiences for both the iPad and the Apple TV. By working with Ubisoft, Square Enix, Activision Blizzard, and other major studios, Apple could make a big splash in the industry.
3. Focus on Controller Support
Touch controls suck. Yeah, I said it. I love the iPad and some of the games are actually really fun, but if I log into a game and see a touchscreen joystick, I’m out. Games with controller support are simply better. If Apple wants core gamers to move to the Apple TV or iPad for gaming, or if they want developers to take them seriously, they need to put a larger focus on controller support. They already have tools that make it easy for developers to integrate with the dual shock and xbox controllers, Apple just needs to put a greater influence on actual controller support, especially if they partner with the previously mentioned publishers.
4. Focus on Real Games, NOT Mobile Games
Mobile games can be a nice distraction when you are out and about, but the iPad and Apple TV can deliver what core gamers love. Apple needs to focus on traditional gaming models and a full fledged gaming experiences, not micro-transactions and casual gaming. Both devices allow for a stationary experience that can be comfortable to play for an extended period, not just in 5 minute sprints. The reason people play games on the iPad in this manner is because most of the games are just ported iPhone games with 5 minute gameplay loops. Focus on providing a better experience and watch the data shift.
5. Focus on Connectivity
The Apple Ecosystem provides a unique opportunity. By combining cross-save and cross-play capabilities, users can get an experience that no other ecosystem can deliver. Imagine playing a game on your iPad while you are at your desk or a friends house, picking it up exactly where you left off on your big screen with the Apple TV when you get home, and then playing a supplementary experience mini-game on your phone while you are on the toilet. Apple can offer a fully connected and intertwined gaming experience like no other. The Apple TV and iPad can be an upgraded Nintendo Switch and your phone is just a bonus to provide short form experiences that tie into the main game. There is a recipe for success there that only Apple can deliver.
Apple most likely won’t announce a major new Apple TV with gaming support, full emphasis on controller based gaming, and new exclusive titles with major players in the industry, but we can still dream. The blueprint is there and Apple could become a seriously player in the gaming with just a few tweaks to their current strategy. I for one would be fully on board and would be willing to pony up for the new Apple TV if it even met just a few of the above. What about you? What feature do you think would make the biggest different in setting Apple apart as a major player in gaming? Comment and let us know!
Either way, tune in and enjoy the keynote tomorrow, I am sure there will be exciting news and we can all settle for a refreshed iMac and continue dreaming.