My apologies to anyone getting sick of the above photo.
Soon after Apple Arcade’s launch, I discovered that when connected to your Apple TV, a PS4 controller’s light bar would go the signature colour of Apple’s gaming subscription service. Straight away I shot a quick happy snap on my iPhone, and have been using it whenever a story warrants it.
For me, the image has become superfluous with Apple TV gaming in 2019 – the Year of Apple Arcade.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week leading up to today’s Best of list, during which I’ve celebrated the last three years of Apple TV gaming since starting this site in December 2016.
For those who missed out, here’s some links to this week’s coverage:
Prior to The Apple TV Gaming Blog, I was posting occasional stories about Apple TV gaming over at Grab It Magazine, and eventually decided to start a site dedicated to the platform, given that I couldn’t find one to follow myself. And here we are.
If Apple TV gaming ever grows to a stage where someone is driven to write its history, March 25 2019 will go down as the day the platform was saved from the brink.
Between January 1 and March 24 2019, nothing much happened, and I’d even considered letting this site wind down and die a natural death.
There were two posts on this site during that time. The first was January 26 (Australia Day) when I wrote about studio Four Fats, posting a video the team had released detailing its history. Worth a watch, considering Four Fats has a bunch of games available on Apple TV.
The day after, January 27, Cornfox & Bros. revealed Hero, Trin, and Gen, the main characters to star in Oceanhorn 2. This was before Apple Arcade was even revealed to the public.
And then nothing until March 25, and bang, we were back in business.
But then the long wait began until more news. We knew the basics: subscription-based, downloadable games (as opposed to streaming), and no ads or in-app-purchases. It was a pretty exciting package. But what about the games?
That too was pretty exciting, as you’ll see from the long list in that story.
As I mentioned earlier this week in the recap of 2018, the Steam Link app arrived and went straight to number one on the App Store, and I haven’t really heard much news of it since. I don’t know how many actually use it to stream their Steam library to their Apple TV, but the option exists, for better or worse.
The story continued to unfold at WWDC 2019, during which Apple CEO Tim Cook announced to the world that along with the arrival of Apple Arcade, compatibility for PS4 and Xbox One controllers would be along for the ride. Big news that opened up the service to many more, given that as long as players were equipped with an Apple TV, their existing console controller of choice would give them access to Apple’s upcoming world of gaming.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, Rush Rally 3 and Horizon Chase: World Tour kept us entertained while we waited for AA to drop in ‘The Fall.’ Quality games too, all three.
Hovercraft: Getaway managed to sneak through the door just before AA’s release, and then boom, Apple hit the big red Go button on Apple TV’s launch of Apple Arcade a week early. It was announced as coming to Apple TV September 30 but arrived September 24, and all of a sudden I was frozen by indecision. Where do I start? No doubt I was not alone, as Apple TV gamers around the world who pulled the trigger on their month long free trial were wondering which game to try first?
In case you’re wondering, here are the first four Apple Arcade games I played on Apple TV.
Batches of freshly baked games were delivered golden brown straight to our TVs in successive weeks following AA’s launch, and today as I write, the count sits at 104.
Just this morning, the 104th game – LEGO Builder’s Journey – came to the service, and the trailer looks like it promises some real LEGO fan service mixed with a poetic narrative. Can’t wait to check it out.
Apple Arcade is not perfect. Fans of first-person-shooters have no offerings for example, but apart from that little hiccup, ATVG is absolutely gobsmacked at the consistently high bar of quality that AA titles keep holding up. That, combined with the modest price of entry, the fact that there’s no IAPs or ads, games can be played offline, and there’s universal play across iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV makes it a must-have for anyone sporting an Apple ecosystem of devices.
Will Apple Arcade’s success bring non-Apple Arcade games to the Apple TV platform? That remains to be seen, but ATVG suspects the answer will be yes, although at a slow burn. While 2019 will go down as a formative year in the history of Apple TV gaming, 2020 will be a fascinating followup to watch unfold.
The success of Apple TV+, which no doubt will drive some Apple TV sales might also lead to some more adopters of Apple TV gaming. I’ve long suspected that many lapsed adult gamers are finding their way back to their hobby after having bought an Apple TV box ostensibly for streaming media, only to discover that coupled with a controller, it also games rather well. And there’s 104 high quality games they can pull the trigger on instantly. Are you one of them?
Just after Apple Arcade’s launch, Dead Cells – a non-AA title – launched on Apple TV and made trying out all those AA titles even more challenging, given that I couldn’t tear myself away from Dead Cells. Check the Best of list below to find out if Motion Twin’s offering found its way in.
In other non-AA news, Formula 1 racing came to Real Racing 3 six-and-a-half years after launch. That game just keeps on giving.
Shadowgun Legends – ATVG’s Best Apple TV Game of 2018 – was brought back to life on Apple TV via the 1.0.2 update from Madfinger, and it now has more content than ever, with a current Christmas event going on as I write. If Apple TV gamers are starved for a quality FPS, there is always Shoadowgun, and it does not do things by halves.
All that’s left is for you to scroll on down and check out ATVG’s Best Apple TV Games of 2019, which at the very bottom is revealed the absolute Best Apple TV Game of the Year.
How has your year been Apple TV gamers? Mileage varied? Hit up the social feeds (see the banner up top) and chime in with your thoughts. Where do you see the platform heading? I look forward to hearing from you.
Okay? Okay. Did I miss anything? Probably.
Not to worry. That’s what the update button is for.