Dig into Apple’s requirements for games made for its new Apple TV and there’s an interesting – and dare we say worrying? – line about controllers.
Tucked in the section entitled “Requirements for Games That Support Game Controllers”, the line reads, “Your game must support the Apple TV remote. Your game may not require the use of a controller.”
That means that every single game that is released on the new Apple TV must be playable solely with the Siri- and touch panel-equipped remote control. The remote also includes motion sensors, making it somewhat akin to the Wii Remote we all waved around for a few months before getting utterly bored.
When Apple demoed Beat Sports live on stage at last week’s event, we immediately thought of Wii Sports, that paragon of casual motion-based gaming that provided a few lightweight laughs but almost nothing in the way of depth or long-term appeal. And, let’s face it, the Wii Remote is going to be a lot more comfy and easy to use than the Siri Remote.
Yes, there will be “proper” gamepad controllers compatible with the new Apple TV. But they’ll always be optional, and games must be designed to work without them. The Apple TV, perhaps, is setting itself up to be saddled with nothing but casual games.
And that might be fine. People made the same points about iOS’ touchscreen-only games, dismissing them as hamstrung from the beginning due to their lack of non-traditional controls. And look how iOS has turned out: it’s a pretty impressive platform for games.
However, one key difference between the iPhone and the Apple TV is that the former was a blank slate for developers. Nothing like it had been seen before, and that meant devs could forge their own path without any great regard for the conventions of the past. The Apple TV is a box that connects to your telly, and it has a remote control that you use to control it from the sofa. It’s a conventional input.
As they stand, the requirements mean that all games will have to be designed for this awkward-looking remote control. That could stifle the Apple TV’s appeal as a platform for “serious” games where precision and multiple input methods are required. Imagine trying to play an FPS on the Siri Remote – it’d be even more awkward than playing an FPS on an iPhone.
Even before this revelation, Stuff contributor Craig Grannell called the Apple TV “barely a Wii apologist” when it comes to gaming, and the controller news seems to support his opinion. Of course, gaming is merely one of the strings to its bow, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be an Xbox One or PS4 rival. But as it stands, it’s looking more like an Ouya competitor.