The new Apple TV could be Apple’s next move into the gaming market, a source tells the New York Times. The device will reportedly be announced at Apple’s September 9 event.
According to the report, Apple TV is getting a major graphics upgrade, and will contain use the same A8 chip that powers the iPhone 6. It will have an App Store, just like other Apple devices, and a remote that doubles as a controller.
The improved hardware will probably lead to a higher price point. The anonymous source puts it at $150, and Ronald Chavez at Mashable predicts that the Apple TV will land between $149 and $199, compared to the $69 price of older Apple TVs. This earlier report indicates that the Apple TV’s remote control could have motion sensing capabilities, like the Wii.
If the new Apple TV were a streaming device like the Roku or the Amazon Fire Stick, it would definitely be considered pricey. But does that all change if we add games into the mix?
Apple has dominated casual gaming ever since the App Store caught fire. Despite being second to Android in market saturation, mobile gaming is basically synonymous with Apple.
A huge opportunity definitely lies in getting iOS games onto televisions, especially if you will be able to play the same game across devices based on your Apple account. However, I also think there’s a big cultural difference between console gamers and iOS gamers.
While we all play mobile games throughout the day, people tend to commit longer chunks of their time to console games. And of course, console gaming requires plonking yourself down on the couch and taking over the TV.
Mobile games, by contrast, are games that someone could play while watching TV with the family, or doing any number of other activities. I’m not convinced that the bulk of the mobile gaming crowd will be as comfortable picking up a remote control and playing Alphabear on the big screen as they would catching a quick round on a phone.
However, this is certainly the gaming crowd that Apple is gunning for, as competition in the AAA console market is stiff.
Where I see the Apple TV succeeding is in its integration with other Apple devices, like the iPhone and iPad. It’s also more accessible than a huge, expensive console. Even though it will be more expensive than other streaming devices, it’s still far cheaper than the $400 you would spend on an Xbox or PlayStation. However, I don’t think these are the devices that consumers will be comparing it to; nor should they.
“What the Apple TV has the potential to do is to bring casual gaming to the living room and make it a much more social activity,” Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research, told the New York Times.
The Apple TV has traditionally been a device for streaming movies and music from iTunes, as well as accessing television programming. These are all services that gaming consoles, like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, have rushed to provide in recent years. The Apple TV is therefore coming at things from the opposite direction: It’s a well-established streaming device that will now add games into the mix.
Bringing casual games to the big screen is definitely not a move that’s going to hurt Apple, and it’s probably unfair to compare the Apple TV’s gaming ecosystem to the iPhone in the long run.
That being said, it’s hard to imagine this having a huge impact on living room gaming. Our gaming habits at this point are deeply ingrained, and it will take a very persuasive device to change them.
We’ll learn more about the new Apple TV’s specs and software at the Apple event on Wednesday.