For This Gamer, Gaming on the Apple TV Leaves Much to Be Desired

For this Gamer, the Apple TV Leaves Much to be Desired.

I held out for the fourth-generation Apple TV for a long time. Three years passed between the third-generation Apple TV and the fourth generation, and despite my impatience, I kept hearing the rumors that encouraged me to wait for the latest and greatest iteration of Apple's acclaimed set-top box. As a lifetime gamer, I was especially excited to finally get to play App Store video games on the big screen.

When the Apple TV was introduced in 2015, it sure sounded sweet, with great games available in the TV App Store and a newly designed remote control that featured a microphone to support deep Siri integration, accelerometer and gyroscopic sensitivity, and a touch-sensitive pad that allowed gesture control. It all sounded great. However, I'm almost a year into my experience with the Apple TV and its fancy remote and I have to say, the reality of the situation has left me underwhelmed. Which is a shame, because I really like Apple devices, and by and large, I have tremendous respect for the integrity of the company's products.

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To be clear, the Apple TV is great for the basics, like streaming video content from YouTube, Netflix, HBO GO, etc. (never mind the lack of an Amazon Video app), and it makes streaming content from your iPhone or iPad a breeze via AirPlay. Siri is a huge help when it comes to searching for content and since the Apple TV links with your iCloud account, you can create wonderful screensavers from your iCloud photo albums and view pictures that you've captured with your various iOS devices with ease. So yes, there are certainly many pluses to the Apple TV.

My issues with the Apple TV are as a gamer who loves his video games and appreciates a glitch-free, intuitive ecosystem on which to play these games, something the Apple TV has not proven itself to deliver thus far. Whether using the included Siri Remote, or one of the great game controllers available designed to recreate a console gaming experience, like the SteelSeries Nimbus, it's been my consistent experience that interacting with games feels clunky, awkward and downright glitchy. If I try to use the Apple Remote, the controls have not felt intuitive or responsive enough, and when I've used a third-party game controller, I've experienced connectivity issues and when they are connected, while it definitely improves the gaming experience, the controllers that are currently available don't always support all of the features within a game that need to be controlled, so I often find myself having to reach for the Siri Remote anyway, whether it's to control game volume, move the in-game cursor, or to escape a frozen game and get back to the main menu so I can try again. Granted, the simpler the game (think Crossy Road or Edge EX) the less problems it gave me, but the purpose of the Apple TV is not to be limited to simple games, but to embrace the console gaming experience of games like Gods of Egypt, Transistor, Rayman Adventures and Asphalt 8, to name a few.

For this Gamer, the Apple TV Leaves Much to be Desired.

If you are a gamer, then you know how frustrating it can be to have hinderances like these come between the thrill of you and your favorite game; whether you enjoy the high speed action of a game like Real Racing 3, the RPG puzzle solving of the Zelda-like classic, Oceanhorn, or the physically interactive, motion-sensitive action of a game like Beat Sports. Many times have I had to put down my controller and walk away grumbling, wishing that Apple had done more testing and taken more feedback from people who are dedicated gamers.

The Apple TV is a great device for TV purposes, but when it comes to gaming, I can only hope and trust that Apple will continue to evaluate and improve what I consider the Apple TV's weakest area, that being gaming. The potential for the Apple TV to revolutionize and disrupt modern console gaming is tremendous, once the company works out the kinks, of which, in my opinion, there are too many.

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As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech