Video: Apple TV 4K and the SteelSeries Nimbus controller brings tvOS gaming back to life

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited October 2017
The new Apple TV 4K is now available and thanks to an ultra-powerful A10X Fusion CPU, it can output beautiful images with both High Dynamic Range and 4K resolution. Though Apple is touting higher quality movies and video with 4K HDR support, the new processor promises huge potential in terms of gaming.





Notably, Apple's chip boasts double the processing performance and 4x the GPU performance of the previous fourth-generation Apple TV. Looking at non-Apple silicon, the A10X Fusion's performance is similar to the Nvidia Tegra X1 processor in Nvidia's Shield gaming console. With so much processing potential, game developers can really start pushing their games to the graphical limit.




The App Store features a wide selection of games, including titles that can automatically sync data and progress between your Apple TV and supported iOS devices. There are also a whole bunch of games that are exclusive to tvOS, some of which take advantage of the extra power that comes with the A10X Fusion processor.

During Apple's September Keynote, developer thatgamecompany revealed a new title named "Sky," and showed off how users can use the Siri remote as a controller.

The Siri remote is well designed device, and works with many available games, but doesn't offer a very great gaming experience. If you want to make the most out of your Apple TV gaming experience, then you definitely have to invest in a gaming controller, specifically one with MFI support.

We went with the SteelSeries Nimbus which is available for $49.95 at Apple.com, and for $29.95 from Amazon if you're okay with a refurnished one. This may seem like a hefty price, but if you're on the lookout for deals, Apple is also selling the controller in a $39.95 bundle with Minecraft Apple TV edition, a game that costs $20 on its own!




The controller's battery recharges via Lightning connector for 40-plus hours of gaming, and you can also use it to control your Apple TV instead of your Siri remote. The buttons are pressure-sensitive and you can connect up to four of them for multiplayer gameplay. It can even be used to play games on your iOS devices.

Most importantly, the SteelSeries controller unlocks tvOS game titles that require an MFi controller. These games usually feature complex controls that require more than a couple physical buttons.

The controller is very comfortable to use, and made gameplay a blast on the Apple TV 4K. The buttons were very precise and responsive. We played a bunch of titles, and we'll soon be releasing a video showing off the best tvOS games for Apple TV 4K.

Connecting it to an iPhone 8 was as easy as holding the pairing button, hitting pair in the Apple TV's Bluetooth settings menu, and installing the SteelSeries Nimbus companion app -- which makes it easy to instantly find games that offer MFi controller support.

You can use the search tool to look for a specific game, or by browsing through the newest added and top rated games. Tapping a link instantly brings you to the game within the App Store. Within each game, the controller works instantly without having to configure any settings.

Now that the powerful A10X processor has come to the Apple TV 4K, tvOS gaming finally looks promising.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    firelockfirelock Posts: 130member
    Gaming has been the biggest missed opportunity on Apple TV. I have two ATV 4s and one ATV 4K, plus an ATV 2 and 3 sitting in drawers, so needless to say I am a fan of ATV and deeply embedded in Apple’s ecosystem. But as the earlier poster mentioned, games on ATV are awful for the most part. There are some stand-out titles like Skyforce Reloaded and Skyforce Anniversary which are both beautiful and work great with the Nimbus controller. In fact I far prefer to play Skyforce on my ATV with a controller than I do with touch controls on my iPad. However, most games are simply conversions of mobile titles that do not translate well to the TV interface. Lara Croft GO, for example, is a great game and while I welcome it’s appearance on ATV, it is far easier to play on a touch screen. The interface was designed for swipes and taps, and trying to do all of this with just your thumb on the ATV remote’s touch pad is both exhausting and frustrating. 

    And as the earlier poster mentioned, the vast majority of games in the ATV App Store are of really poor quality. I’m not sure Apple can recover and turn this into something better given how badly they have fumbled with ATV gaming.
    cecil444Hugh_Jarseboltsfan17watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 15
    I (and my kids) use our ATV (with a Nimbus controller) for gaming to a certain degree (Asphalt, Skyforce, Riptide, Crossy Road and Real Racing), but the selection of good games is very slim. Hopefully there may be more ATVs in use soon, and with encouragement from Apple, developers will make more/better games - especially with local multiplayer support :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    Yep, the Steel Series Nimbus is great...either for ATV or iPad. I use it all the time for NBA 2K on iOS, and it's perfect for some of the arcade sports games on ATV like Pixel Cup Soccer or Tennis Champs Returns. One of the things that stands out about it is the battery life. Definitely lasts longer than the typical wireless console controller.
  • Reply 4 of 15
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,157member
    firelock said:
    Gaming has been the biggest missed opportunity on Apple TV. I have two ATV 4s and one ATV 4K, plus an ATV 2 and 3 sitting in drawers, so needless to say I am a fan of ATV and deeply embedded in Apple’s ecosystem. But as the earlier poster mentioned, games on ATV are awful for the most part. There are some stand-out titles like Skyforce Reloaded and Skyforce Anniversary which are both beautiful and work great with the Nimbus controller. In fact I far prefer to play Skyforce on my ATV with a controller than I do with touch controls on my iPad. However, most games are simply conversions of mobile titles that do not translate well to the TV interface. Lara Croft GO, for example, is a great game and while I welcome it’s appearance on ATV, it is far easier to play on a touch screen. The interface was designed for swipes and taps, and trying to do all of this with just your thumb on the ATV remote’s touch pad is both exhausting and frustrating. 

    And as the earlier poster mentioned, the vast majority of games in the ATV App Store are of really poor quality. I’m not sure Apple can recover and turn this into something better given how badly they have fumbled with ATV gaming.
    You can say that again. When the 4th generation Apple TV came out, I really thought gaming would be a big focus for Apple. Turns out its not. If Apple focused more on gaming, that would really put the Apple TV a big step ahead of the competition. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 15
    You can say that again. When the 4th generation Apple TV came out, I really thought gaming would be a big focus for Apple. Turns out its not. If Apple focused more on gaming, that would really put the Apple TV a big step ahead of the competition. 
    Not sure what people expected Apple to do. iOS was always going to be the supply chain for ATV games. It's not a stand-alone device in Apple's ecosystem. It's complimentary to iPhones/iPads, so as those games evolve in sophistication over time, so will the ATV. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 15
    sog35 said:
    That's just not a good strategy.  Especially if Apple wants to continue to sell ATV at a 70-100% premium over the competition.
    A. The competition doesn't actually make much money. Roku, the market leader, is still in the red overall. That's one of the things that's so ironic about the overpriced comments per ATV: where's the evidence that those low prices actually work for a hardware oriented company?

    B. It's the only strategy that makes sense for software. iOS is wildly successful, so it's the best way to get quality apps/games onto a device that previously didn't offer them and has a relatively small install base. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    sog35 said:

    That's just not a good strategy.  Especially if Apple wants to continue to sell ATV at a 70-100% premium over the competition.

    The ATV has a blazing fast CPU/GPU and alot more onboard memory then Roku/Fire/Cast.  But that added hardware is USELESS if all Apple is going to focus on is streaming.

    Why do I need an A10X and 32GB and a world class GPU if it only does streaming?
    I agree with what you’re saying to some extent but I think there’s an element missing. When Apple’s thinking about gaming with the AppleTV they can’t imagine it in isolation from gaming consoles such as PS4 or Switch.

    Also, the Switch is getting some grief about it’s relative lack of graphics power and although no one really knows how Nintendo may have enhanced/specialised their usage of it (they get better quality visuals/performance than games for the Shield...), the AI video says the Apple 10X is roughly comparable to the X1 and so the AppleTV 4k will endure the same performance complaint from game enthusiasts.

    Not to say you do or don’t care about any of that, but Apple would be ignorant if they didn’t care and irresponsible if they didn’t consider it when approaching the issue of gaming on what would essentially be a game console competing with traditional consoles. Perhaps they feel boxed in and so they’re sticking with a sure thing, video.

    My own opinion is that with the Switch (and Nintendo’s games for iOS) a notable shift back to dedicated gaming hardware is inevitable. It’ll happen relatively slowly, but I think many people will see the attraction of traditional gaming consoles, getting better quality games and experience, and now with the Switch we are no longer limited to playing just at home. So, from that perspective, it would have been great for Apple to have already gotten a foothold in what I see as an inevitable change in gaming habits among the population.
    cali
  • Reply 8 of 15
    Agreed that AppleTV is great, but still represents several missed opportunities for Apple to capitalize on and expand. Gaming is definitely one of them. I have a Gen. 4 (and a couple of Gen. 2&3, as well as a Gen. 1 that still works) and 2 Nimbus controllers. What I don't have is more than a handful of games to play that really stand out. A couple of games I tried are bafflingly missing Mfi controller support altogether. It can't possibly be that difficult to code for alternate controllers. Apple should work with Unreal to develop the frameworks to easily port over some of the hundreds of games that are available right now. They should also work with Steam on an App/feature to stream gameplay from a local host computer similar to the way iTunes works with Movies. It would unleash the AppleTV and help a lot of game developers (especially Indies) get exposure to a larger audience. Heck, even work with Nintendo to build Airplay into the Switch to make it into a new 2nd screen experience. Can you imagine using a Nintendo Switch and AppleTV together like a super 3DS? How many 3DS games could be ported to that? Add in multiplayer support, Switch is the controller, AppleTV split-view or open world. Lot's of possibilities. I've often wondered why Apple doesn't take this approach with iPhone/iPad+AppleTV, but I know they don't have the game dev. experience. That's why I think they'd be better off partnering with Nintendo. My $0.02, of course.
    Ofercaliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 15
    sog35 said: There is ZERO reason why Apple can't put more effort in gaming on the AppleTV.  Use some of that $200 billion in cash to buy a few small game developers or make some exclusive deals. They have done none of this.  

    Or use some of that money to buy licensing rights to sell some classic arcade/nintendo games on the ATV.  Imagine classic PacMan on the ATV?  Or Street Fighter 2?  

    And iOS vs ATV is totally different.  ATV is not a mobile device.  So its game strategy has to be totally different.
    Mario on iOS and Sky on ATV/iOS are examples of timed exclusives that are actually kind of eye-opening. Apple definitely had to pay $$ for that privilege (just like with timed exclusives for Apple Music), and Nintendo and thatgamecompany are nothing to scoff at when you see them breaking the ice and getting interested in iOS/ATV.

    So the idea that Apple isn't doing anything is not actually true. They're just not trying to clone the console model because their focus has always been on the more broad personal computing segment, and that's regardless of whether the hardware was plugged-in or not. ATV is a natural continuation of that with it's close connection to iOS apps/games. And if you want to play Pac Man on ATV, try out the Championship Edition for it. That came out in early 2016.
    caliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 15
    sog35 said: but Sky uses the Siri remote, which totally limits gameplay.

    I'm really sick of Apple being stuck on having to use the Siri remote. Its a real crappy remote for games.
    Errrr...Apple dropped the Siri remote requirement back in 2016. And whether or not Sky limits control to the Siri remote on ATV remains to be seen. It's also being released on iOS, so obviously those versions can't rely on the Siri remote. Also, it's likely coming out on consoles later as well, so they'll have to support standard controllers at some point for sure.
    cali
  • Reply 11 of 15
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,980member
    I avoid games on iOS that are action-oriented, specifically because touch screens suck for control of such games and always will (simple tapping on puzzle games like Monument Valley are not a problem). Nice to hear positive news about this specific controller. Does it work on Mac OS?

    Games and game controllers should be a higher priority for Apple at this point (as in, some kind of actual effort put into it, rather than tolerating the existence of it on their platforms), on iOS and Mac OS. Instead, Apple is starting to spew luxury products (Apple Watch and now iPhone X), dabbling in automotive development(!!!), continuing to push out premature OS versions with the same bad GUI, long-standing unfixed bugs, new bugs, and useless social features, and is continuing to try to grow into the contract sales- I mean "services" business.

    Focus well lost.

    edited October 2017
  • Reply 12 of 15
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    dysamoria said:
    I avoid games on iOS that are action-oriented, specifically because touch screens suck for control of such games and always will (simple tapping on puzzle games like Monument Valley are not a problem). Nice to hear positive news about this specific controller. Does it work on Mac OS?

    Games and game controllers should be a higher priority for Apple at this point (as in, some kind of actual effort put into it, rather than tolerating the existence of it on their platforms), on iOS and Mac OS. Instead, Apple is starting to spew luxury products (Apple Watch and now iPhone X), dabbling in automotive development(!!!), continuing to push out premature OS versions with the same bad GUI, long-standing unfixed bugs, new bugs, and useless social features, and is continuing to try to grow into the contract sales- I mean "services" business.

    Focus well lost.

    The irony is people bi***ing about AppleTV being too expensive and you’re complainimg it’s not enough and about luxury products.

    So which one is it? Better performance or cheaper price?

    I believe it’s too cheap. They could have packed in more power(AG gaming chip) and features(AR, 3D Touch, Taptic Engine) for $249.99. One price, 64GB.

    I was researching games for Apple TV and it was tedious digging for a single gem. In 3 hours I found about 3 good games.

    I wanna know if these Apple TV games are taking advantage of native 4k and HDR?

    Apple missed so many opportunities. Mario Run TV alone would have made this a hot gaming item for the holiday. Should have flat out acquired thatgamecompany. “Timed exclusives” aren’t gonna make people give up their consoles for AppleTV. 
  • Reply 13 of 15
    cali said:
    Apple missed so many opportunities. Mario Run TV alone would have made this a hot gaming item for the holiday. Should have flat out acquired thatgamecompany. “Timed exclusives” aren’t gonna make people give up their consoles for AppleTV. 
    First of all, take a guess as to why Nintendo would be willing to release Mario on iOS and not ATV? They don't want it to compete with their own TV oriented poducts. The same dynamic works with companies like EA and 2K. Madden, FIFA, and NBA 2K are all popular on iOS, but they don't release ATV versions because it's very likely they want that limited to the more expensive console versions of the games. Rockstar is another big publisher that has had success with iOS versions of GTA, but never released them for the ATV. Same dynamic. thatgamecompany is not as huge a company as Nintendo, EA, Rockstar so they're more willing to do both since they're not selling $60 games. 

    Anyway, the idea that it would make more sense for Apple to try and make people "give up" consoles right now than leverage iOS gaming just doesn't hold any water. People that buy consoles also buy phones/tablets and play games on them too. That market is absolutely gigantic in terms of total overall install base. It dwarfs the console market. However, it's also a market that doesn't really support high price tags for games. Better for Apple to leverage that existing market and try to move the needle towards having a wider price range in the future than just plop down a brand new product with zero install base and expect it to compete with Nintendo, Sony, and MS consoles. 
  • Reply 14 of 15
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,027member
    foregoneconclusion said:
    Not sure what people expected Apple to do. iOS was always going to be the supply chain for ATV games. It's not a stand-alone device in Apple's ecosystem. It's complimentary to iPhones/iPads, so as those games evolve in sophistication over time, so will the ATV. 
    A big step in the right direction would have been making PS3/4 and Xbox controllers work. That's been the limiting factor on most gaming on iDevices, and most people aren't going to buy controllers. But, if they made it compatible, a lot of people already have great controllers they are familiar with.
Sign In or Register to comment.