Pioneering a New Platform
Today’s consumers want on-demand, fluid access to entertainment on all of their devices, and “connected TV devices” are among the fastest-growing methods of streaming content.
Apple TV is a leader in this category, expecting to capture 31% of the market share. The current generation of Apple TV also supports gaming apps, but the question for developers—and brands—is whether or not this can become a mass market gaming platform.
These are “frontier days” for Apple TV: wide-open, nebulous, full of opportunity and risk. It reminds us of some other eras in game technology: the debut of Flash games on the web or the introduction of games for smartphones.
Breaking New Ground
Remember when Flash became the tool of choice for gaming? All of a sudden, the Web was flooded with independently created games, many of them brilliant, others were very crude efforts.
In both of these instances, the early efforts were challenging, but they also paved the way for the evolution of better games and a deeper understanding of the platform’s potential.
We think that’s what will happen with Apple TV. Most of the games currently available for tvOS are ports of existing mobile games, designed for touch screen devices. Investors and developers are looking for a low-risk way to get on the platform—and, as a result, they aren’t taking full advantage of its parameters.
Social Gaming — Gather Round
Multiplayer games certainly aren’t new for the big screen but apps for Apple TV tend to be of a casual nature and more easily enjoyed by groups of friends.
The big screen makes it possible for the audience to feel included in the action. And it allows for exciting multiplayer play like side-by-side competitions and side-by-side cooperative play using multiple controllers and split screens. Finally, Apple TV provides the perfect platform for the party game.
Just like Nintendo’s Wii, Apple TV adds physicality and playfulness to gaming — this opens up the platform to people of all ages irrespective of previous gaming experience.
Apple’s remote controller includes a touchpad, a microphone, and sensors that track its motion in multiple directions. The system also allows you to use iOS devices as controllers, taking advantage of those devices capabilities. Devices can send and receive information.
More Real Estate
There is the TV screen and the screens on the connected devices. Think about the possibilities. What if an object seen on the big screen migrated onto a connected device and back again? For example, suppose a ball could make the rounds from screen to screen and each player had to interact with it in some way? Or suppose you were playing an interactive mystery game like Clue, and the murder weapon was hiding on one player’s tablet/phone?
This expansion of the playfield is an intriguing notion that we haven’t seen fully realized yet, especially not via a high-profile IP and addictive game play.
Apple TV wants to attract popular brands to the platform. It’s looking to external developers/companies to create an impetus for gaming on its device. For a high-profile brand, this could represent a real opportunity. Its name could become synonymous with rich, addictive, branded experiences on an emerging platform—in much the same way that Mario became synonymous with Nintendo.
Apple has projected sales of 26 million tvOS units in 2016. As of January, there were 3,600 apps for the platform, and the number continues to grow. For the company that is willing to hitch up its brand wagon and head into a new gaming frontier, there could be valuable rewards ahead.