Toward the end of his life, Steve Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson that, after puzzling it over for a long time, he’d finally hit upon a simple TV interface. When the biography was released in 2011, those words seemed to indicate that Apple would unveil a new Apple TV at its next press event. Events came and went, but no major Apple TV overhaul came to pass.
Good things come to those who wait. According to BuzzFeed, Apple is finally ready to unveil the next Apple TV. Sources say the announcement will come at the company’s World Wide Developers Conference in June.
All indications point to this being true. Rumors have been circulating lately that Apple is almost ready to announce a new TV streaming service. The company just lowered the price of the current Apple TV from $99 to $69 with no explanation. The current Apple TV, by the way, was last updated in early 2012, which means it’s high time for a refresh.
According to BuzzFeed, the new Apple TV will feature an App Store, just like iOS, and the company will release a software development kit so developers can start making apps for it. History has shown that where there’s an App Store, you’ll find games. Here are seven questions about gaming on the next Apple TV.
1. Would anyone want to play games on it?
This is the big question. People interested in playing games on their TV already have an array of fantastic options, including the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, as well as the previous generation of consoles.
More likely, the Apple TV would compete with other set-top boxes already on the market. You can play games on the Amazon Fire TV, the Ouya (remember that thing?), Roku boxes, and the new PlayStation TV. The problem is, none of those boxes is a popular gaming machine. So far at least, people just don’t seem to care about playing games on set-top boxes.
Apple, along with game developers, would have an uphill battle to get people interested in gaming on a set-top box, even one created by Apple.
2. How would games control?
Players would need a controller to play games on an Apple TV. Like iOS game controllers, this would almost certainly be sold separately. In fact, iOS game controllers would probably be compatible with the Apple TV, thanks to Apple’s design requirements.
A number of iOS controllers are already available. The problem is that they’re pricy, and most of them are much more shoddily made than PlayStation 4 or Xbox One controllers.
3. How powerful would the next Apple TV be?
BuzzFeed suggests that Apple would put its latest A8 system-on-a-chip inside the next Apple TV, which would make it as powerful as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. This would make it powerful enough to play the kinds of games available on iPhone and iPad. The problem is that people who play mobile games are not always the same people who want to play games on their TV.
4. How would it stack up to the competition?
An A8-powered Apple TV would be about as powerful as an Amazon Fire TV or a PlayStation TV (which plays PS Vita games). The Roku and Ouya are less powerful. But again, there doesn’t seem to be a big market for set-top box gaming, so from that standpoint the competition isn’t fierce.
5. Would it compete with Xbox One or PS4?
A new Apple TV probably wouldn’t make much of a dent in the console market unless it became a far more popular gaming device than any other set-top boxes. To compete with consoles, the next Apple TV would have to be much more powerful (and thus much more expensive) than it’s likely to be.
6. How could the Apple TV succeed at gaming when other set-top boxes have failed to gain traction?
If Apple TV were to become a respectable gaming platform, it would need lots of excellent games. In this regard it has a leg up on its competition, because the iOS App Store is overflowing with games. Developers clearly like making software for Apple products, and if it’s easy to port a game from iOS to Apple TV, developers would be all the more likely to do it.
7. Does the Apple TV have any chance of being a successful gaming platform?
Overall, the outlook isn’t very good. But Apple has proved its critics wrong more than once, and if the games are good, gamers may follow.