Over the past few months, we’ve been seeing rumors of Apple working on a gaming console, which could apparently compete with the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X.
A lot of you guys are gonna laugh at that, because gaming isn’t really Apple’s strong suit. But I’ve been digging through Apple’s developer videos and I’m seeing Apple do things that they’ve never done before in terms of gaming, and then if you add certain rumors and leaks that have been going around, I’m convinced that Apple is gonna make a huge push into gaming very soon! So in this article, I’m gonna discuss the current problem with gaming on Apple devices, I’m gonna talk about this rumored console and what I think it’ll end up being, I’m gonna tell you why it finally makes sense to expect Apple device gaming to make a huge comeback, and I’m gonna reveal everything I found in Apple’s developer videos that lead me to believe that all of this will happen.
By far, the biggest problem with gaming on Apple devices is that it just hasn’t been worth the effort for a lot of game developers. Of course, the gaming market for iPhone and iPad is huge, and it’s been growing over the years, but that’s just not the case for the Mac and for the Apple TV.
In order for a game developer to bring their game to the Mac or the Apple TV, they had to build their games using the Metal framework, and to do that, their entire team had to be using Mac computers, so that’s a big investment for a company that uses Windows machines for their game development. And if they did make that investment, they would run into an issue where the market isn’t big enough to make it worth it.
In article from Fast Company, Raw Fury Games created an Apple TV version of their game, Kingdom: New Lands, and 5 months after launch, they only sold about 600 units on Apple TV compared to 54,000 for the iOS version. Minecraft: Apple TV edition was released in 2016, but it was actually discontinued in 2018 so they could reallocate resources to the platforms that their players use the most. Only a couple of months ago, Valve ended SteamVR support for macOS so they could focus on Windows and Linux. Back in January of this year, the developers of Rocket league ended support for macOS and Linus platforms because it was no longer viable to maintain the game on those platforms.
So what we’re seeing is a trend of developers ditching the Mac and the Apple TV, and the main reason is that they have to spend a lot of extra time updating and fixing bugs specifically for those platforms. But that’s not the only reason why developers are avoiding these platforms. For example, on the Apple TV, the Siri remote is incredibly limiting and simply doesn’t work for a lot of games. Yes, other game controllers are supported, but according to Gordon Van Dyke from Raw Fury Games, not a lot of people buy additional controllers for their Apple TV, so it kills there ability to bring their games to that platform.
So what can Apple do to fix this? Well, a developer named Patrick Hogan told Arstechnica that Apple needs to do three things to fix gaming on the Apple TV.
- Include a full-featured gaming controller with every Apple TV.
- Market the Apple TV as a gaming platform. And
- Spend money on funding exclusive games for that platform.
And as far as the Mac, Apple needs to figure out a way to finally make it worth it for developers to bring games to the mac. And based on everything I’ve seen in the Apple developer videos, it’s obvious that Apple is making some major moves toward fixing these issues, releasing a new gaming console, and making a massive push into the gaming market.
It all started last year with a few very important changes. The first was that Apple finally brought PS4 and Xbox one controller support to all of their Apple devices. And the iPad Pro finally started getting some great games that supported controllers like Fortnite and Call of Duty Mobile. At the same time, Apple released their cross-platform Apple Arcade which works across all of their platforms and of course, supports game controllers.
But this year is where Apple is going all out. For starters, they’re bringing keyboard and mouse gaming to the iPad for game categories like first person shooters and MOBA games. This is gonna play into gaming on the Mac.
Gaming on Apple devices is limited to using the Metal framework, and for the first time ever, Apple has opened up their Metal developer tools to be used in Windows 10, so essentially, game developer studios that use PCs for their entire team can now finally build games for Apple Devices without having to invest into a full set of Mac computers.
Apple is also going big on game controller support this year, adding support for new controllers like the Xbox elite wireless series 2. And they’re adding a ton of new sensor support, like haptic feedback, rumble, new motion sensor support including the Jyroscope, PS4 controller light bar support, battery level support, a new API which automatically switches between controllers on the Apple TV, and the most important thing of all, game controller input remapping support. So basically, Apple is setting up full-fledged controller support for the first time ever.
Yes, all of that new support sounds great, but how is Apple gonna convince developers to start making games for all of their platforms? Well, it all comes down to their new Apple Silicon. As you all know by now, Apple’s Macs are going to transition away from intel processors to using their own custom built ARM64 chips instead. The most important benefit in terms of gaming is this:
If you have any shared code with iOS apps, that code is almost certainly already fully ported to ARM64. Because iOS use the same CPU architecture as Apple Silicon Mac computers.
So basically, on day 1, Apple Silicon macs will be able to natively run iPad and iPhone apps.
And if you’re wondering how a touch-based app will work on a Mac, Apple will take care of it automatically. So basically, the point that I’m trying to make is that every iOS or iPad game should be able to run on Apple Silicon Macs, with very minimal changes. And if a game supports a mouse and keyboard on the iPad, it’ll automatically gain the same support on the Mac.
And if you’re wondering about how a game built for an iPhone or iPad UI will run on a Mac, Apple has that covered as well. Last year, Apple introduced SwiftUI which allows you to create user interfaces across all of Apple’s devices all at once. So now, instead of learning different UI code for each platform, Apple has consolidated it all into one, which is SwiftUI. So you can build one app for one platform and it’s now many times easier to bring it to the rest of Apple’s platforms, since it shares a lot of the same code.
And on top of that, in March, Apple finally added Universal Purchase for Mac Apps, so when you buy an app or pay for an in-app purchase, it works across all Apple platforms by purchasing it just once. And this year, Apple has fully redesigned the Game Center with new features like tracking achievements, leaderboards and profiles, and it works across all of Apple’s platforms. They’ve also made updates to ReplayKit to the Mac which allows you to have in-app screen recording, screen capture and even live streaming of your gameplay, and it even works with buttons on game controllers. So what I’m ultimately leading to is that for the first time ever, every Apple device runs on Apple Silicon.
This is huge because a game developer can create a game just one time and use SwiftUI to make minimal changes to the code so that the game looks great on every Apple device, including the iPhone, the iPad, the Mac and the Apple TV. And when you buy or download a game, you get to play it on any Apple device, including your in-game purchases. And the updated Universal Game Center means that your in-game progress can be saved across all of your platforms. And since each of them now has full-fledged controller support, you can use one controller to play them all. And since all of the platforms run on Apple Silicon, online multiplayer cross-play between these platforms is possible on third-party games just like it already is with Apple Arcade.
What this basically means is that the gaming market for each Apple platform is gonna be merged into one massive gaming market. This is gonna have huge benefits for gaming on the Mac, since it’ll instantly have access to a massive library of mobile games. The most important change of all is that game developers will no longer have to create, update and fix bugs for multiple platforms. They simply do it once and do minimal code adjustments for each platform, making it take much less time than ever before.
A lot of you are gonna say that mobile gaming isn’t real gaming, but what you need to understand is that this transition is just the beginning. Because the different Apple platforms will be merging in terms of game development, there is gonna be more incentive than ever before for game developers to create new demanding titles for Apple devices.
And because Apple’s chips are becoming increasingly more powerful with each year, and Apple’s Metal 2 is now adding high-end features like Ray Tracing, developers can now create really great AAA-title games for Apple devices. So basically, all of these new features that Apple has added over the past year, and especially at this year’s WWDC, are signaling a massive move from Apple to reenter the gaming market, so with all of that said, let me show you guys how I think Apple is gonna handle this big push into gaming.
Sometime later this year, they’re gonna announce a new Apple TV with a very powerful Apple Silicon chip that is gonna have a dedicated cooling solution, and they’re gonna market it as a gaming device. There’s a good chance they’re also gonna release their own Apple-branded gaming controller which could be included or bundled with the new Apple TV, and it’ll support every Apple device like the iPhone and the Mac. At the same time, they’ll show off how switching to Apple Silicon has allowed them to enable crossplay multiplayer which allows you to play the same game on any Apple device whether you’re at home or on the go. They’ll also talk about how it’s easier than ever for developers to create, update and fix bugs for each of their platforms all at the same time instead of having to dedicate lots of time and resources to support all of the different platforms.
They could even work with a major AAA game developer to bring a massive popular title to Apple Devices to help market their new push for gaming. And with time, as gaming on the Mac and the Apple TV continues to grow alongside iOS gaming, more and more developers will start to bring their games over to Apple platforms. And thanks to the advancements in processor performance and Apple Silicon technology, Apple devices will be able to run more powerful games than ever before. So there you guys have it! That’s how I think Apple is gonna make a huge push into the Gaming market starting later this year. If you disagree with me, let me know your thoughts down below in the comments.