One of the standout features of the new Apple TV is its support for gaming, but now Apple has reversed its stance and placed a new limitation on that capability. Apple has said from the beginning that third-party controllers will be supported on the new Apple TV. The SDK for the device carries Game Controller support and the company mentioned it on stage at its unveil event. Apple also mentioned that games that worked only with third-party controllers were okay, meaning the games wouldn’t necessarily have to be compatible with the company’s bundled Siri Remote. Now, however, Apple says that games can not require the use of third-party controllers.

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This change of heart can be found in the App Programming Guide for tvOS. In the guide, Apple notes that while users can connect game controllers to their Apple TV, all games must also support the included Siri Remote. Below are the official requirements Apple is listing for games that support third-party game controllers:

Requirements for Games That Support Game Controllers

Apple has created specific requirements you must follow for any game that supports game controllers. These requirements are designed to make sure that games are always playable.

  • Your game must support the Apple TV remote. Your game may not require the use of a controller.
  • tvOS games that support controllers must support the extended control layout. All controllers for tvOS are nonformfitting extended controllers.
  • Games must be playable using standalone controllers. If you support an extended controller, the game must be playable solely with that controller.
  • You must support the pause button. All controllers include a pause button. When gameplay is active, pressing the pause button should pause gameplay. When the game is not being played, such as when you are at a menu screen, the pause button moves to a previous screen of content.

This new restriction will obviously limit the complexity of games that are available on the Apple TV, which is definitely not a good thing. While the Siri Remote is far improved over the previous Apple TV remote, it is by no means as well designed for gaming as a dedicated gaming controller.

While Apple could still reverse this policy before the Apple TV launches next month, it will already have had an impact on the development of games for the device. You can read more on developing for tvOS with third-party controllers on Apple’s site.

Also of note, developers today have started receiving their developmental Apple TV units. We already saw the first unboxing for the device here, but now that developers have their hands on the device, apps should start to roll in.


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