Prelude: Welcome to Part 3 of ATVG’s celebration of three years of Apple TV gaming.
Tonight we’ll look at Apple TV’s journey as a gaming platform through 2018, which will lead us up to this coming weekend, at which point I’ll bring us up to the present with 2019’s Best Apple TV Games of the Year.
What will be 2019’s Game of the Year? Will it be an Apple Arcade title? No spoilers.
First though, 2018.
Scrolling back through ATVG’s posts from last year, it feels like things slowed down a little after the excitement of 2016 and ’17. There were some big releases and plenty of news, but it really felt like support for the platform was lacking from Apple, and as a consequence, from developers.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
As I look back at some of these games now, such as Dandara landing in February, I find that I’m starting to think of them as Apple TV classics of a sort. I guess when you have a gaming console that lives in such a niche, the really notable titles stand head and shoulders above the other releases.
Other Apple TV classics, such as Trials: Frontier, Asphalt 8, and Real Racing 3 continued to get content updates throughout the year. Asphalt 8 teamed up in a weird marketing ploy with Fall Out Boy and did this, while Real Racing 3 turned five, and gave players a free 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS. Now we’re living.
Speaking of classics, March meant Evoland 2. And wow. Evoland 2 actually toys with the evolution of gaming itself, paying a beautifully realised homage to RPGs. The references are not cheap and nasty, but thoughtful and respectful, going so far as to depict graphical evolution as well as gameplay. Definitely a contender for Game of the Year.
Pixelbite confirmed in March that work had begun on Space Marshals 3, while admitting at the same time that release was a ways off in the future. Still no further word on that one, but I’d guess at 2020. And maybe a move to Apple Arcade? We’ll see.
In last night’s post looking back at 2017, I mentioned studio Vector Unit. Well the team actually celebrated 10 years of developing games in 2018, and ATVG posted a profile looking at the studio’s work. This was the next best thing to being able to attend the actual party, with ATVG having to turn down the invitation given that it was on the other side of the world. When you are based in Australia, everything is on the other side of the world.
April saw the release of what I would now call one of Apple TV’s flagship titles – Shadowgun Legends. Madfinger’s epic sci-fi FPS was awarded ATVG’s 2018 Best Apple TV Game of the Year, and although there were fears that it was fading, Madfinger recently updated the game yet again to bring the ATV version into line with its mobile counterpart, adding content with new PvE adventures.
Shadowgun Legends really shows what the Apple TV is capable of as far as high-end gaming goes, but it’s not the only one.
A couple of smaller arcade games joined the catalogue throughout the year – I have a fondness for Ammo Pigs and PAKO Forever to name a couple. Excellent little pick-up-and-play arcade joints that massage that retro muscle in a completely good way, showing that size doesn’t always matter.
As with 2017, 2018 also had its share of news items that contributed to the story of Apple TV’s evolution as a platform for gaming.
The most notable that springs to mind is the Steam Link app saga, with Valve at first announcing the app was coming, Apple rejecting it, and finally releasing it in May 2019, at which point it shot straight to number 1 in the free games charts. Unsurprisingly.
For those who didn’t follow the bouncing ball, the Steam Link app allows players to stream their Steam library straight to Apple TV from their PC or Mac connected to the same Wi-Fi network, taking Steam gaming into the lounge room, and opening up an endless world of gaming on your Apple TV.
Following a chat on Twitter that I had with Legendo’s studio head Björn Larsson, I posted this story, outlining why the Steam Link app might not be such a healthy prospect for the future of Apple TV gaming. It’s some interesting food for thought.
ATVG wrapped up 2018 with the original list you’ll see below, and some fine gaming was had. 12 months ago I had no idea what 2019 would bring, and wondered if I’d even continue this site. Obviously I did, and I’m glad.
So here’s to another 12 months in the can, and I look forward to joining you again on the weekend to look back at 2019 and post the LIST. And then stop. Maybe just for Christmas. Don’t worry, not for long.
But anyway, there’s work to do before all that.
Check out the original 2018 list below.