As demoed by Apple on stage, the latest instalment of Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero Live, is now available on Apple TV. It’s just like classic Guitar Hero, a three-lane rhythm based game, but modernised with better visuals, ‘real’ band members, enhanced crowd reactions, and more.

On the iPhone and iPad version, you can play two trial songs for free or pay $50 via In-App Purchase to unlock the full game with 38 additional songs. However, on Apple TV, the game is completely non-functional without the controller accessory. You have to buy the controller for the game to work at all. Incidentally, you can buy the full game and controller on Amazon as a $99 bundle, for both iOS and tvOS.

Requiring a game controller peripheral is a controversial move, as it goes against Apple’s normal App Store policy for Apple TV games. In fact, it appears to defy the rules about game controllers laid out by Apple.

In the developer guidelines, Apple says explicitly that developers cannot make games that require an MFI controller. All games must be able to be played with the Siri Remote alone. This caused some discontent in the community as it artificially limits what kind of games can be made based on the capabilities of the ‘basic’ Siri Remote. Guitar Hero behaviour seems to defy these rules entirely.

We have reached out to Apple for comment but one possible explanation is that the Guitar Hero game accessory is not technically an ‘MFI game controller’. It is a completely custom peripheral that only works with the Guitar Hero game. This may be a bit of a loophole that allows Activision to require the peripheral as it doesn’t technically fall under the ‘no MFI controller exclusive games’ requirement … because it isn’t an MFI controller.

Perhaps adding salt to the wounds, on iOS, the game can be played in full without a controller accessory. Paying the $50 IAP unlocks the full game. It doesn’t seem very fair to extort additional money out of Apple TV users for the same game.

Still, if you are interested in Guitar Hero games, Guitar Hero Live seems like a fantastic addition to the series. You get a lot of tracks as well as access to the GHTV channels, which show 200 live music videos that you can play along with.  It’s just a shame you have to fork out $100 and buy the fake guitar peripheral the if you want to enjoy the game on Apple TV.


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About the Author

Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.