Why the Apple TV Won’t Replace Your Gaming Console Anytime Soon

Now that Apple's September event is over and I've had a chance to catch a deep breath and take a step back from Apple's infamous "reality distortion" field, I can share some more perspective on Apple's new TV set-top box and what it really means (and doesn't mean) for modern gaming.

The folks at NVIDIA (a game-centric producer of a high-end, game-focused set-top box) may have hit on something when it expressed the following sentiment: if your gaming interests consist of Crossy Road, Flappy Bird, or simply playing your current iPhone games on a larger screen, then the Apple TV is fine for you. But if you are a core gamer, interested in a wider selection of more powerful games—ones that require faster processors, PC streaming, and more storage and have greater graphic potential—then the Apple TV is far from the best option on the market.

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That doesn't mean that tvOS developers won't be able to push the gaming envelope with the Apple TV, because I expect they will. For now though, the Apple TV will likely appeal to a somewhat different demographic than a device like NVIDIA's SHIELD, which not only appeals to core and casual gamers alike, it also offers far more features across the board than the Apple TV; features that will appeal to gamers and cable cord-cutters alike.

 Does the Apple TV's Gaming Live Up To The Hype?

Even though Apple has never claimed to be a company that is overly focused on gaming, at last week's event in California, it certainly made it clear that gaming was something it wasn't going to ignore. When Apple laid its cards on the table, gamers had a lot to be excited about; but overall, I couldn't help feeling that it was a somewhat lukewarm presentation. After all, we can already play games on our TV via the iPhone and last-generation Apple TV. Yes, there is now a dedicated TV App Store and yes, there is an improved remote (which still failed to present a better way to type!), but I think Apple has failed to make a solid case to the hardcore gaming community as to why they should take the Apple set-top box seriously.

Let's compare the stats between the new Apple TV and the SHIED with the following chart:

Not that Apple's TV doesn't have tremendous potential to transform how people consume their entertainment, and games specifically, but it has a way to go before it will be on par with a more technologically advanced gaming-oriented, set-top box. That said, this is the first Apple TV that has been released in three years, and the first generation Apple TV to show a renewed focus on gaming. Like all things Apple, I know that the first generation of a new product is often Apple getting its feet wet. Keep in mind, the original iPhone and the original iPad were nothing like the iPhones and iPad available today. Likewise, the next generations of Apple TV (and Apple Watch) will undoubtedly sport significant improvements over the original versions.

For now, after I've had some time to process the information from Apple's product unveiling last week, I'm feeling a little underwhelmed, while still optimistic about the future of gaming on the Apple TV. I also realize that for many of us who love playing our games within the Apple ecosystem, the new Apple TV will be more than enough. To think that the Apple TV will only appeal to casual gamers and people who enjoy less intense games is inaccurate and an oversimplification of the modern gamer's interest. Considering the fact that iOS gamers already have such stellar core titles as Bastion, Modern Combat, Real Racing and other AAA-caliber games I suspect they will have plenty of fun things to keep them busy while Apple figures out what they are going to do next, now that they've publicly embraced gaming on a whole new level.

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Dig Om's picture

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