Steam Link – Apple TV’s Current Number One Free Game Is Not A Game

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Surprised? Me neither.

An app that turns your Apple TV into a portal for games purchased through Valve’s digital storefront, was always destined for that number one spot. And not much more than 24 hours after the Steam Link app became available too. Sneaking in front of Crossy Roads and Real Racing 3, Steam Link shot straight to number one with a bullet.

ATVG has had mixed feelings regarding the Steam Link app ever since it was announced this time last year. At first I was excited.

Then Apple rejected it, and I was not excited.

Developer Björn Larsson of Legendo Entertainment then helped me to see the flip side, and I thought, hmmm, maybe Apple was right to reject it.

Apple then finally decided to comment on the whole saga.

And now that it’s out, how do I feel?

Optimistic.

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There’s still a strong argument to be made that the existence of the Steam Link app removes incentive for studios to develop directly for tvOS. That line of thinking however, only really holds true if you think of Apple TV as a gaming console similar to PS4, Xbox One and Switch. You can’t play games bought for your Xbox on your PlayStation.

With apps like PS4 Remote Play (available for both iOS and macOS) and now Steam Link,  Apple is allowing its devices to act more as a conduit, or medium for games (which of course offers a counterpoint to the whole “Apple is a walled garden” opinion).

If the oft-said adage is true – that competition is healthy – then the quantity of quality tvOS games will only grow if Apple still hopes to make money from selling games via Apple TV’s App Store. And we know that Apple has every intention of doing just that, given that its upcoming Apple Arcade service is due to hit later this year.

Looking over ATVG’s list of every game announced so far for Apple Arcade, it’s becoming increasingly hard to argue that Apple isn’t getting serious about games, and with the release of Valve’s Steam Link app, Apple will need to make sure it has quality titles in order to sell its subscription service to consumers.

Apps such as Steam Link will no doubt even raise the awareness of Apple TV as a hardware option for gaming, potentially putting more Apple TVs in homes, and ideally creating a flow-on effect of providing more incentive to develop directly for tvOS.

I’ve often written here at ATVG that gaming is obviously not Apple TV’s primary function – media-streaming is. Gaming however, is increasingly becoming a selling point for Apple TV, and the ability to now stream your Steam library to another room is undeniably a great addition of functionality. If the app’s release has a knock-on effect of raising the quantity of quality titles that can be bought directly from Apple TV’s App Store, which of course don’t suffer from the latency of streaming, then surely these are all win-wins.

Well, they are if you take an optimistic point of view.

And ATVG’s glass is always half-full.

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If you’re new to The Apple TV Gaming Blog (ATVG), or just new to Apple TV gaming in general, or both, then the best place to get acquainted is our Best Apple TV games of 2018 article. You’ll find a great collection of games to play, and a bunch of useful links to our previous site content. Welcome aboard. Enjoy the ride. 

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