10 games we’re dying to play on the new Apple TV

Marvel: Future Fight would make for an excellent couch co-op game on Apple TV.

Apple is the company most responsible for ushering in touchscreen gaming, but a rumor now claims the company will reveal a new device tomorrow that will rely heavily on a physical controller.

By this time tomorrow, we’ll know exactly what Apple has planned for the new Apple TV (read everything we know about the device right here). But for now, a report (originally from 9to5 Mac) suggests that the company plans to dive into gaming. This includes bringing the App Store to the device as well as a TV-style remote control with a motion sensor built-in. More important, Apple is also reportedly working to ensure the new gadget supports the latest console-style Bluetooth controllers — and that’s despite other companies, like Nvidia, ditching Bluetooth controllers due to causing a laggy connection.

All of this means that Apple is potentially introducing a new gaming console tomorrow, and we have a list of games that we can’t wait to play on our Apple TVs with a real controller.

Crossy Road

Crossy Road

Tons of games that are popular and lucrative on iPhone and iPad will make no sense at all on a television. Trust me — your family does not want to watch you take over the TV to play Clash of Clans. But Crossy Road is a great example of something that would work with a controller. And it already does!

Crossy Road is the Frogger-style endless hopping game that debuted earlier this year to critical acclaim, huge download numbers, and more than $10 million in revenue. While it’s a good touchscreen app, developer Hipster Whale also incorporated controller support for devices like the Nvidia Shield and Amazon Fire TV. It could find new life on Apple TV, where gamers and families can take turns seeing who can get the farthest.

Pac-Man 256

Pac-Man 256

This is the endless Pac-Man game that just debuted last month on mobile devices (read our review here). It’s about the yellow pellet muncher outracing the glitch that caused colorful numbers and letters to appear on the screen for anyone who got to level 256 in the original arcade release.

Pac-Man 256 is another Hipster Whale production, and it is also ideally suited to both touchscreen and gamepad controls. Once again, it already has support for both, so it’s just a matter of getting the game out on Apple TV.

Minecraft: Pocket Edition

free-great-minecraft-wallpapers-hd-for-download

Minecraft doesn’t need any more help. It’s easily one of the most popular games in the world, and it doesn’t matter if you play it with a gamepad, mouse and keyboard, or on a touchscreen. But because we know the game works with a controller thanks to its megasuccesful entries on the consoles, we’d love to see it get full gamepad support on Apple TV. That way, kids who have spent hours building their masterworks on a tiny iPhone can now show it off on a much larger television set.

Marvel: Future Fight

Marvel Future Fight

While Marvel films dominate at the box office, the comic book company hasn’t really made the effort to translate that success to triple-A gaming. Instead, we get neat free-to-play releases like Marvel Heroes 2015 (now 2016) on PC and several mobile games. One of the coolest recent releases is the Diablo-like action role-playing game Marvel: Future Fight. While fans have begged for a port of Marvel Heroes 2015 for consoles — or for controller support on PC — mobile publisher Netmarbe could swoop in and take some of that momentum by releasing Future Fight with controller support for Apple TV. The game already has multiplayer support, and it would make an excellent couch co-op experience for the new iOS set-top box.

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions

Geometry Wars 3

Publisher Activision revived the Sierra Games label last year in an effort to help it produce smaller and mobile games. One of its first releases was Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions for the consoles, which it quickly also put on iOS and Android. While the game works fine with touch controls, the entire dual-stick shooter genre is one that benefits most from controller support, and this game is no exception.

Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Kombat X Goro Hero

Fighting games have found an odd home on mobile. Developer NetherRealm Studios kickstarted this phenomenon with its Mortal Kombat and Injustice superhero fighting games. But these mobile adaptations take the complexity of the genre and boil it down to its simplified essence so that they can work with basic touchscreen controls.

But with Apple TV and controller support, NetherRealm could reintroduce some of the depth these games have lost. It probably won’t happen, but it’s something we’d love to play — especially for something like WWE Immortals, which is a Mortal Kombat-style fighting game that has never had a real arcade or console entry.

Goat Simulator

Goat Simulator

Goat Simulator is one of those games that succeeded because it is so weird and funny. But you lose some of that charm if you’re playing by yourself huddled in front of an iPhone or iPad. Instead, Goat Simulator benefits from plopping a group of people in front of a television and passing around the controller to see who can cause the most mayhem.

Call of Duty: Zombies

zombie-call-of-duty-s-zombies-are-back-and-they-look-more-ferocious-than-ever

Like Mortal Kombat X, Call of Duty: Zombies is an attempt to bring a console experience to mobile. But this one tries to fully emulate a gamepad with on-screen controls, which is always miserable. If you had a real gamepad, however — one with sticks and buttons — a first-person horde mode game would work without issue. The Zombies mode in the Call of Duty: Black Ops games are already extremely popular, but a version that worked with a controller and on a television could potentially rival that.

Five Nights at Freddy’s

Five Nights 2

I can’t play scary games alone. I’m a huge coward. But what I can do is put a scary game on the television when I have a crowd of people over. That’s what I want to do with the Five Nights at Freddy’s games. These Chuck E. Cheese’s-restaurant-horror-house simulators have already found success on PC and mobile devices, but the only way I’m going to play them is in a family room when I can have someone sitting next to me that I could grab.

Now, Five Night at Freddy’s doesn’t have controller support on iOS, Android, or PC — but it would make sense to add it for Apple TV.

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Why HomeKit deserves some serious love during Apple’s iPhone event next week

Apple HomeKIt

Apple is expected to spend a lot of time talking about Apple TV next week at its iPhone 6S press event. We’re likely to see new hardware, new gaming functionality, a new remote control, and at least some new information about an accompanying content offering.

Nobody’s talking much about Apple’s home automation platform, HomeKit, but my guess is that the two platforms — Apple TV and HomeKit — will increasingly be tightly integrated. And that’s why I think Apple will (or should) spend some time talking about that integration at its event next week.

So far the main control device for HomeKit devices has been the phone or tablet. HomeKit was featured in a developer session at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last spring, but the new code and tools rolled out work in iOS 9. They had little or nothing to do with Apple TV.


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But when you think of the actual use cases, HomeKit will need to be presented on the TV in the living room.

In other hubs I’ve seen the user can easily see the various states of devices and scenes throughout the home on the TV screen. They can graphically set groups of devices to act according to instructions in a “scene.”

In Apple TV’s case, all this stuff would be displayed on the TV screen and controlled with Siri, or some other function of the remote control.

But so far Apple has focused on the phone as the major control device for HomeKit.

Apple identifies five lifestyle states in which it expects HomeKit will be used: Get Up, Leave, Return, and Go to Bed. These states represent the times when users are most likely to need to change the state of their lights, doors, appliances, or home electronics devices. And yes it’s likely that an iPhone would be present during any of those times.

A couple of the scenario definitions could include the TV. Many people will have a TV in the bedroom for Get Up and Go to Bed.

But Apple should have included one other major lifestyle state — Watching Living Room TV. If Apple didn’t know how much time people spend in this state it wouldn’t be making such a fuss about establishing its beachhead there. That is what Apple TV is all about.

People are going to want to be able to change the room temperature or turn the lights off in the kitchen or check the front door cam while they’re sitting on the couch. They’re not going to want to search around for a phone. Even if they have their iPhone right there, the TV will be a much better screen for controlling home devices. Aside from the fact that there’s more room to present an attractive and functional HomeKit interface on the TV, some functions — like that front door cam example — will just be best viewed or monitored on the big screen.

This idea is nothing new. Companies that have been doing home automation control for well longer than Apple — like AT&T and Comcast — have made full use of the living room TV to control the connected home.

With its 7.0 update for the latest (2012) version of Apple TV, Apple made the device ready to act as a wireless bridge for the HomeKit app. In other words you can control HomeKit devices in the home only when your phone is on the home Wi-Fi network, unless you have an Apple TV. Then, the phone, in effect, can call into the Apple TV via a cellular connection, and the Apple TV box authenticates and relays the HomeKit command to the appropriate appliances.

But acting as a real, honest-to-goodness HomeKit hub is whole other beast.

I’m hoping that Apple has been spending its time developing Apple TV as the hub for HomeKit. If they have, I hope we see it next Wednesday at Apple’s big fall event.

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Apple TV’s Share Of Over-The-Top, Authenticated TV Viewing Is Growing

apple-tv-pacman1 Ahead of next week’s Apple event where the company is expected to debut new Apple TV hardware and software which may include support for an app store and a cable-replacing streaming TV service, Adobe has released its new video benchmarking report that indicates Apple TV has been increasing its share of over-the-top viewing. Specifically, over the past quarter, Apple TV increased its… Read More

Apple starts Twitter account dedicated to gaming

An Apple logo hangs above the entrance to the Apple store on 5th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, July 21, 2015.

Apple makes billions of dollars from selling mobile game, and now it is finally embracing the hobby on social media.

The company launched @AppStoreGames on Twitter today as a place where it will share information about new releases and deals. This feed will deliver content directly from Apple’s App Store editors, which is the same group of people who determine the Featured Apps you see when you boot up the marketplace. So far, the account has made references to Zelda (a series that is not yet on iOS) and shared promotions from mobile developers.

While this might indicate that Apple is finally starting to soften up about its approach to gaming — a medium it treats with some contempt — the timing of this Twitter accounts arrival is probably more telling even than that. Apple has an event planned for next week, and the rumor (as first reported by 9to5 Mac) is that the company will introduce a new Apple TV that will have a heavy focus on gaming. This means a full App Store for TV-based games, Bluetooth controller support, and more. Mobile gaming is worth $30 billion worldwide, and Apple’s store is responsible for the majority of that. Now, the company may try to expand on that by incorporating a different screen in your house.

Read everything we know about the next Apple TV right here.

Up until this point, Apple has established itself as a major player in the gaming space almost by accident. The App Store has produced dozens of popular and lucrative games on iPhones and iPads, and Apple has reaped the reward. The vast majority of spending on the App Store is for game content, and the company could potentially re-create that success on televisions with an Apple TV-style console.

If the September 9 Apple event does lead to a set-top box with deep support for gaming, we will once again watch the Mac company enter a market sector that others have failed to solve. In this case, the most notable example is the Android-based Ouya microconsole, which debuted to much hype after a successful Kickstarter. But that TV gaming system failed to find an audience and — even worse — failed to produce any successful third-party developers. That led to hardware manufacturer Razer acquiring the Ouya brand, store, and patents in July.

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The next Apple TV: Everything we know so far

apple TV Rob Boudon

Apple is holding an event on September 9 in San Francisco where it’s expected to unveil the iPhone 6S, iPad Pro, and yes, the next-generation Apple TV.

Since its release in 2007, Apple’s TV box has served as a complement to other living room electronics. However, if the rumors are true, that small role could expand in a big way.

Here’s everything we’ve heard so far about the rumored Apple TV launch.

The new remote

The newest Apple TV is being positioned to tackle home gaming in the same way the iPhone took over the mobile space. According to 9to5Mac, the Apple TV will have a remote control equipped with a touchscreen, buttons, and motion sensors, which would make it ideal for controlling a variety of video games.

The current generation Apple TV remote

Above: The current-generation Apple TV remote

Motion-controlled games reached their peak of popularity when Nintendo introduced the Wii in 2006. Though other console manufacturers (and Nintendo with its subsequent system) have downplayed the technology, there are certain advantages that should help Apple establish a foothold — namely, that tilting a controller is intuitive in ways that tapping buttons are not. Wii Sports achieved success beyond the gaming audience because people of all skill sets could enjoy it. Could Apple swoop in to cater to this abandoned audience?

The Apple TV is also expected to allow Bluetooth connectivity with third-party controllers. This opens the door for people who currently play console games but want more options. However, one big question remains: If more complex controllers aren’t standardized, will developers risk designing games with them in mind? That’s a hurdle that Apple will have to overcome if these rumors are true.

Siri

Not only does the remote control include the aforementioned upgrades, but it should have Siri as well. Just about every feature on the next Apple TV will be controlled with voice commands, BuzzFeed reported, like Amazon’s Fire TV. The feature should be a massive help as long as it can understand what you’re saying. Furthermore, the library of every service you subscribe to is contained in one place. If you want to watch Heroes, for instance, Apple TV will see if it’s available on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, or other content providers.

Siri, on an iPhone 6S running iOS 9, won't reveal Apple's launch plans

Above: Siri, on an iPhone 6S running iOS 9, won’t reveal Apple’s September 9 launch plans

No subscription service … yet

Apple is working on a service that will allow you to do away with your cable subscription. This won’t be available right away, but starting next year, you may have a cadre of channels available for roughly $40 a month. There’s no further details on this program, but it’s something to keep your eye on going forward.

Power

Apple is going to have to beef up the processor if it’s going to tout state-of-the-art games. The Apple TV should have an A8 processor, along with 8GB and 16GB storage options. That last point could be worrying. The PlayStation 4 has 500GB of storage, and even though iOS games aren’t nearly as large as some of the offerings on Sony’s console, that’s still a massive disparity. We’ll have to see if this proves to be an impediment to Apple’s long-term strategy, but the company appears confident about its current plans for minimal storage space. Aside from apps, everything will be streamed to the Apple TV, so 16GB may not be a roadblock after all.

Launch date

Sadly, Apple CEO Tim Cook probably won’t bellow “And you can buy your Apple TV right now!” during the press conference on September 9. The wait shouldn’t be too long, though. 9to5Mac believes that the Apple TV will arrive in October, but that doesn’t mean the older version will be discontinued. It’s likely Apple will keep two iterations of Apple TV on the market.

Price

Did you think you’d get these new features for free? Rumors peg the next Apple TV’s price at either $149 or $199, depending on how much storage space you want. This is a huge step up from the current Apple TV, which was recently discounted to $69.

So, if you’re intrigued by its more robust video game functionality and Siri integration, you can plunk down the big bucks. But if you only want a place to watch your Netflix and iTunes movies, the current model will probably suffice.

Check out VentureBeat on September 9, when official details of the Apple TV and other new Apple products are announced. Until then, here’s everything we think Apple will launch at its September 9 event.


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New Apple TV will reportedly cost $149 or $199, ship with App Store and Siri in October

Apple TV Siri

Rumors of a new Apple TV streaming device, expected to be announced at Apple’s iPhone event on September 9, have abounded for months. Today’s latest rumor, courtesy of 9to5Mac, suggests the fourth-generation Apple TV will be priced at either $149 or $199, and will be made available in October (previous rumors said September).

The third-generation Apple TV is currently priced at $69 (recently reduced from $99), so this is a sizeable price increase. Because offering from competitors are much more affordable, Apple reportedly plans to keep selling the third-generation device alongside the fourth-generation Apple TV, which is expected to be thicker and slightly wider.

We continue to hear that the new Apple TV will include Apple’s App Store, Siri support, and a new remote control. Details on this last point are particularly interesting, as relayed by TechCrunch:

One thing that hasn’t been talked about yet is the fact that the new remote will be motion sensitive, likely including several axis’ worth of sensors that put its control on par with a Nintendo Wii remote. The possibilities, of course, are immediately evident.

A game controller with a microphone, physical buttons, a touchpad and motion sensitive controls would be extremely capable. While Apple is likely going to target the broad casual gaming market, I would not be shocked to see innovative gameplay blossom from that type of input possibility. Think, for instance, of multi-player gaming with several people using voice input, or many popular genres of party games that would do far better on the TV than on an iPad or iPhone.

Apple also has big plans for the Apple TV in 2016. The company is supposedly looking to secure the content it needs to replace the need for a cable subscription. Today’s 9to5Mac report suggests such an offering would be available for both third-generation and fourth-generation Apple TVs, priced at $40 per month.

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