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Apple’s future of casual gaming is all about the couch

Game on.


Taylor Hatmaker


Posted on Sep 9, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 12:26 am CDT

Apple is getting seriously casual about gaming.

The new Apple TV introduces a whole slew of streaming video bells and whistles, but more interestingly, Apple’s forthcoming set-top box will bring iOS games into the living room. 

When it goes on sale in October, new Apple TV owners will be able to access the App Store’s wildly popular mobile gaming ecosystem on a larger screen. In 2012, Kickstarter indie darling Ouya tried to pull off a similar trick—porting Android games to a set-top box. This year, Ouya’s mission was declared a consummate failure and the once-visionary company was stripped for parts.

The Apple TV is approaching living-room gaming much more like the Amazon Fire TV than like the ill-fated Ouya. Similar to Amazon’s own set-top box, gaming isn’t the only trick up the Apple TV’s sleeve. But unlike the Fire TV—which runs modified, Fire-friendly versions of Android games—Apple will be able to leverage the wealth of gameplay available in its very own, in-house app store. During its keynote, Apple showcased titles including Guitar HeroTransistorManticore Rising, and Rayman Adventures, all a far cry from your average 2D mobile puzzle game.


The revamped Apple TV remote will do double duty as a TV remote and a gaming controller, though the Apple TV will also offer third-party controller support for playing games more sophisticated than hopping across the highway in Crossy Roads

The Apple TV won’t be competing with the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4, but that doesn’t mean that gaming on the Apple TV isn’t serious business. Games regular top the App Store’s charts, with favorites like Clash of Clans, Minecraft: Pocket Edition, and Angry Birds raking in as much as half a million dollars in microtransactions a day. 


Live demos depicting motion-controlled gameplay were very reminiscent of the Wii, Nintendo’s defending champion of casual gaming. Apple lacks Nintendo’s storied gaming pedigree, but with the addition of couch multiplayer modes in popular mobile titles, it’s clearly gunning for the same slice of the casual gamer market that the Wii managed to identify and carve out over the last decade.

Between the A8 processor tuned for graphics performance, a Siri-equipped remote, and an army of iPhone users already deeply invested in its gaming ecosystem, the Apple TV has a lot going for it. If the Apple TV takes off, the company’s shiny new set-top box might even be able to lure its vast tribes of Bejeweled and Angry Birds addicts into the living room—right where it wants them. 

Photo via Apple

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*First Published: Sep 9, 2015, 5:38 pm CDT