Mobile Mavens

Are indie devs interested in supporting Apple TV?

Indie Mavens debate Apple's new box

Are indie devs interested in supporting Apple TV?

The Apple TV is the latest in a long line of microconsole (or as some people call them 'unconsoles').

Previous examples such as Ouya and GameStick haven't found commercial traction, which begs the question of whether the Apple brand can get the concept to work.

One key component of this might be courting indie game developers; something Apple has already done, showcasing games like Crossy Road, Transistor, and Shadowmatic when announcing the hardware.

With this in mind, we asked our Indie Mavens the following question:

  • "Are you interested in bringing games to Apple TV? How do you think its success will compare to the likes of Ouya and GameStick?"
Shawn Allen Founder Nuchallenger

Apple TV feels like false hype for a smaller Kinect, so I don't trust any of it. People hoot and holler at everything at Apple events but when the smoke clears all anyone cared about was the Macbook or iPhone announcements.

Richard Perrin Owner Locked Door Puzzle

Though I'm a big believer in Apple I'm yet to be convinced that any of these micro-consoles have an audience. I find it hard to imagine the group of people who want to sit and play games on their TV but don't already have a console.

I remain unconvinced there's enough people clamouring for what micro-consoles offer.
Richard Perrin

If it's simply a matter of price then the last generation of consoles can be picked up cheaply and have a vast game library better than anything the Apple TV will ever have.

Sure I can imagine people buying an Apple TV to watch Netflix and buying a few games when they first plug it in to show off what it can do I just don't see them regularly going back for more.

However once smart TVs eventually all include Netflix built in who is even going to be buying these boxes?

In short I think enthusiast gamers will still want powerful dedicated consoles and I think the wider market will still prefer to play games on their phones. I remain unconvinced there's enough people clamouring for what micro-consoles offer.

Ivo Wubbels CEO Engine Software

We already announced that we are working on a conversion of Proun+ to Apple TV. Nobody knows how successfull the system will be, but as usual many devs will jump on that new device train.

I do think many games will just be ported to the system hoping to bring in a little extra revenue. So probably the Apple TV will be flooded with bad iPad conversions, which isn’t a good start.

Is this a future for gaming?

Let’s hope Apple will only give media attention to games that will work well with the new controller or games that are especially designed for the Apple TV. This is exactly the reason why we decided to bring Proun+ to the Apple TV: the game really plays well using a controller, probably even better compared to touch controls.

I’m sure the impact of Apple TV will be bigger than other devices like Ouya and GameStick. So far I have not met developers that did sell really well on those devices.

Ben Murch Co-Founder Perchang

In an ideal world, yes I'd quite like to make a game or two for it. There are some interesting experiences that can be created with that new controller. Also, I already have an Apple TV at home, will probably get the new one, and I feel comfortable saying it's a lovely bit of kit...

Lovely piece of kit but will it have a viable install base?

....HOWEVER, there are quite a few stumbling blocks along the way.

First and foremost. There is literally no existing gaming app market. Unless the new Apple TV comes out and sells a 'billion copie's to people who love buying apps from it, then there will be a tiny, tiny market over the next year.

Unless the new Apple TV comes out and sells a 'billion copies' to people there will be a tiny market.
Ben Murch

That means no revenue, so either you make a game for super cheap, or accept the loss in building a new franchise on a platform that may or may not take off. Ouch.

Second issue comes in the form of isolation. iPads and iPhones get along together because they both have the same inputs. Apple have touted you'll be able to play games on those devices and seamlessly bring them into your Apple TV....except when the control input is so different, that's not quite right is it?

Lots of touch games work so well because they are developed with inputs in mind from the beginning. As soon as you alter that input, it's a different game that probably won't work quite as well. So, "I'll just keep playing this on my iPad", will become a well-versed response to sitting in the lounge.

I do believe it's going to be a LOT more successful than other micro-consoles, mostly because it's Apple. They are the biggest company in the world, so if they can't do it, no-one can!

Whether that's success on the scale of their phones and tablets is another question though.

Jyri Kilpelainen Designer Jyri Kilpelainen

Yes. We were lucky to get the devkit and are now working on the Apple TV version of Tiltagon (and yes, we are using Unity3D).

Apple will most likely sell millions of devices even in the worst case scenario so why wouldn't you want to develop a game for it?

Why wouldn't you want to develop a game for it?
Jyri Kilpelainen

The restrictions will put some limitations to what kind of games we will see but I'm sure that it will prove to be a platform worth developing for. One thing I'm really excited for is what kind of local multiplayer games will arrive to Apple TV.

One of the problems with Ouya and GameStick was the brand (or actually the lack of it). Apple's globally recognized brand and ecosystem will help bring the device to consumers' attention, something both Ouya and GameStick failed at.

I'm also really glad to see early Apple TV support from Unity. Yet another addition to their already huge list of supported platforms.

Jon Ingold Creative Director Inkle Studios

Jon's focus is on content, working from the initial outline, through the development of the authoring tools, to the writing and scripting of final content.

Previously, Jon was a lead designer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and before that a secondary school teacher, so he loves to talk. He's a published author of short stories and over a decade's worth of award-winning interactive fiction.


I'm pretty keen on the new Apple TV - it feels like the right gadget for the current moment; and it's a nice bridge between the casual markets and relatively low-cost world of mobile development and the big-screen experience of a console.

Apple TV controllers - a welcome barrier to entry?

As for the controller limitations, frankly, anything that prevents people leaping onto pre-existing game models and forcing them to innovate is a good thing, both for the industry and for smaller studios like ours.

It's much, much easier to stand out in a crowd if everyone's having to solve new problems!

Graham Reid Designer Graham Reid


I'm not interested in developing for Apple TV, but I'm interested in seeing what experiences come out of it and if there will be anything truly unique and innovative to the platform.

I without a doubt think it'll do better then Ouya and GameStick though, easy.

Pavel Ahafonau Co-founder Happymagenta

We've felt the Apple TV vibe since the begining when it has become possible to use it via AirPlay.

And it resulted into one of our first games, made by the team, Pilot's Path. We made it possible to use Apple TV as a screen and to use a system from one or more iOS devices as a server and/or as a controller, or, alternatively, it could use another iOS device as a display or controller.

Originally it felt like "wow" - as you could use Apple TV as a console or a kind of even without native apps. But it wasn't too much fun in many cases.

Slow WiFi throughput those times wasn't enough to beam the pic with enough quality and frame rate. So, I think even now it's still one of a few games that allows you to choose the resolution you'd like to play with on Apple TV, like it's in PC games.

We've felt the Apple TV vibe since the begining.
Pavel Ahafonau

This was a trick for people that had slow older WiFi. But actually it didn't help and didn't get really too much of attention - the project failed to return the investment, as we spent too much on it by making one of the common mistakes a novice game developers can make.

There was a bet on making a game that would support some cool new tech. But this probably only limied the user base instead.

Probably Apple didn't support the obvious console style gaming on Apple TV then due to AirPlay limits, but an ability to make native apps changes it for sure.

Taken into account that it should be very easy to adopt and port an existing game to tvOS it's definitely worth trying, although, probably, it may require some time for the user base to grow.

So, we are to port several games. And I, as an owner of several Apple TVs, will be buying games for it.

Kepa Auwae Business / Design RocketCat Games

We're going to port some of our iOS games to it and see how they do on Apple TV.

I'm looking forward to seeing Punch Quest on an enormous TV screen. The limited number of buttons on the remote will be a problem for some of my games, but for ones like Punch Quest it won't really matter.

Mage Gauntlet, which has attacking and dodging as its main verbs, would likely work fine too due to the "click" feature of the touchpad.

With an affinity for eccentricity, as well as anything macabre or just plain weird, Chris searches for the games that fly under the radar. If you ask him, anything can be a game. Oh, and a game can be about anything, if you put enough thought into it. So, there.