The Apple TV Gaming Starter Pack – Download These Free Games Now

Unboxing a shiny new gaming console at Christmas time is a lot less fun if you don’t have any games to play.

I remember eagerly unboxing my Atari back in the day to find the Combat cartridge waiting for me in the box, and I’d easily rate it as one of the best Atari games ever. There was also the excellent Alex Kidd, which came preloaded on the SEGA Master System. And it’s great to see Sony reviving the tradition of providing a preloaded game to play with Astro’s Playroom on the PlayStation 5 – a game that’s getting very strong reviews too.

If you’ve recently unboxed a new Apple TV 4K, and you also happen to own a compatible controller (read this article for details), then you may plan for it to double as a gaming console – a function it handles very well.

And if so, you’re going to need some games.

Think of the 11 games over the page as your starter pack – games you can download for your Apple TV gaming console for no extra cost which will provide you with an insane amount of playable content. So much so, that I guarantee there’s enough over the page to keep you going through 2021 and beyond if you so choose.

Keep in mind however, these are free-to-play games, so there’s the usual currencies and in-app-purchases you can choose to make. I’ve selected games in which the monetisation does not get in the way of the gameplay, and if you choose not to spend a cent, that’s entirely up to you – the 11 games over the page will still be just as awesome.

The games over the page can also be played on the older Apple TV HD, but will run much smoother and in some cases, such as with Shadowgun Legends, will look a lot prettier on the newer model – the Apple TV 4K.

If you do decide to go on the hunt for more games for your Apple TV beyond this starting 11, the best place to look is The Best Apple TV Games Of 2020. In this article you’ll not only get a roundup of 2020, but also handy links to the previous roundups of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Then of course there’s Apple Arcade, Apple’s gaming subscription service, which I can’t say enough good things about.

Alright. Free games? Hit the Continue button below. I’ve put them in alphabetical order so as to dispense with hierarchy.

Continue reading “The Apple TV Gaming Starter Pack – Download These Free Games Now”

ICYMI: Recap – Celebrating 3 Years Of Apple TV Gaming – 2018

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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.

Pint-sized Peregrin got things rolling in January, with the Warhammer franchise arriving not long after. Off to a good start.

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.

In November, Barbearian was followed soon after by Teslagrad, and both should exist in your Apple TV gaming library. Big, fully-realised, and such utterly playable console titles.

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.

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ICYMI: Recap – Celebrating 3 Years Of Apple TV Gaming – 2017

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Prelude: 2017 was a strong year for Apple TV game releases, and of course September 2017 saw a hardware upgrade with the Apple TV 4K.

Faster, smoother, bigger, better.

As Xander Davis – head of studio Astrogun – told ATVG in our December 2017 interview, “…there’s actually little difference with what you can do on an Apple TV versus a PS4, except for horsepower (and the gap is closing), at this point.”

But that was the end of the year, and there was plenty going on in 2017 right from the get-go. Studios may not have been making money from releasing games on the Apple TV platform, but there was plenty of activity.

The Trials franchise from Redlynx kicked things off in January, and the team continues to support the game on ATV today with regular updates (a holiday update dropped recently).

One of my 2D platforming games of the year – Le Parker – came along, with pixelised macarons I wanted to reach out and gobble, coupled with beautiful, exacting gameplay. Speaking of platformers, Leo’s Fortune turned up later in the year to offer up some competition, and wow, what a looker (and player).

January really did get things off to a good start, as Oceanhorn 2 was announced, with Cornfox telling ATVG straight away it was aiming for ATV. Two and a half years later, here it is as a flagship Apple Arcade title.

I won’t go through every release of the year, but scrolling back through the stories it feels like ATV gamers had a good run.

Last night I retrospectively chose Halfbrick’s Dan The Man as 2016’s Apple TV Game of the Year, and so why not do the same tonight for 2017?

I don’t even have to think about it – Space Marshals 2. With games like Pixelbite’s ATV offering I was convinced that the platform had a future. The studio gave the strategic top-down shooter such great support as well, with multiple updates, and a fantastic DLC addition arriving in November of that same year – Ava’s Storyline.

On the downside, Gameloft stopped supporting Modern Combat 5 early in the year, meaning Apple TV gamers really had no options at all for first-person shooters, until December, when Astrogun launched Apple TV’s first ever platform exclusive – VAST.

Xander Davis in his interview with ATVG was excited about the prospect of launching on such a new platform that showed so much promise, yet at the same time lamented the lack of support Apple was giving the hardware as a place to game. That really summed up the Apple TV story for that first couple of years, really until the announcement of Apple Arcade in March 2019.

Another disappointment, although exciting at the time, was the announcement from Thatgamecompany that Sky would hit ATV before any other platforms, and yet here we are wrapping up 2019, and Sky has released elsewhere but with no news on the ATV version. Highs and lows, swings and roundabouts.

November saw Gameloft throw a little love at Modern Combat 5 with an update, giving us false hope about ongoing support for the title, which quickly dried up not long after.

The year ended on some more positive notes though, with Legendo starting to tease Draugablíkk: Serpents in the Mist, ATVG discovered RPG classic The Bard’s Tale was available on the platform, Inside dropped in December, and a free bonus mission arrived  in yet another Space Marshals 2 update.

Throughout the year, titles were released by a couple of big supporters of the platform – Vector Unit and Mooff Games (now trading as Four Fats), and we hope to see more from them in the future. Maybe some Apple Arcade titles? We know that Vector Unit had plans to release Beach Buggy Racing 2 for ATV in 2019, but the studio’s site now says TBD, so 2020 on Apple Arcade perhaps?

2017 was a fascinating chapter in the evolution of the little black box, as we started to really see what kind of potential there was for high quality titles. All that was left was for studios to find a way to make it viable to release on the system.

Through it all, ATVG kept cranking out words, readers read them, and the world kept turning.

Check out the original 2017 list over the page.

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ICYMI: Recap – Celebrating 3 Years Of Apple TV Gaming – Year One (2016)

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Correction: The fourthgen Apple TV was of course released 2015 not 2016. Time to start fact checking myself (I’ll blame it on too much jazz, whisky, and a long day at work. My apologies dear readers). The story below has been corrected accordingly.

Prelude: In a very real way, 2019 feels like the year that Apple TV as a platform for gaming came of age.

Apple Arcade has absolutely been the most significant event in the platform’s three-and-a-bit year history, bringing over 100 quality titles to a console that up until the launch of the gaming subscription in September, was having a very slow year for releases.

With more players finally starting to discover and explore this relatively new country of gaming, ATVG thought that now was a perfect time to do something a little special. For the rest of the week I’ll showcase the last three year’s Best of lists, in an effort to shine a light on the dark path a few of us trod in order to get to the light.

After a look back, with a preamble such as this before each to highlight each year’s most significant events, we’ll get to this coming weekend, at which point I’ll post 2019’s Best of. That’ll be a tough one. A lot of games have hit Apple TV in 2019, 103 of them since September with the launch of Apple Arcade, arriving late in the year to rearrange the furniture.

But for now let’s go back to 2016. The beginning.

When Tim Cook announced the fourth-generation Apple TV at WWDC 2015 with its gaming capability, I knew straight away watching the event that a new platform had arrived. I also suspected that it would be a slow burn, but a captivating journey. I wanted in on this niche.

How often does one get to follow a gaming platform from inception, watching it evolve. Three years on, I can say it’s been nothing short of fascinating.

I didn’t actually end up picking a Game of the Year until 2018, but if I had my time again, I’d pick Dan The Man for year one – 2016 – in a heartbeat.

The bulk of the games in this 2016 list were launch titles, and after setting up my brand new fourth-gen Apple TV and pairing my Steel Series Nimbus, Dan The Man and Real Racing 3 were some of the first games I downloaded.

Playing Dan The Man with a controller in-hand confirmed that a path had opened up for this new gaming platform, and knowing how much fun I had with Halfbrick’s title, I was confident I’d embarked on a journey worth taking. And here we are.

I’d like to thank all the developers who shared their games, their time, and their insights with me over the last three years, and of course for taking chances on releasing games for this platform that really looked like it was going nowhere fast.

Thanks also to the readers, for your emails, your shares, likes, RTs, and of course for your valuable time spent reading these silly ramblings of mine. Much appreciated.
Unfortunately, we’ve lost a few of the games from this list along the wsy, with Gameloft no longer supporting Modern Combat 5, and also Minecraft and Geometry Wars 3 leaving the platform. They were fun while they lasted.

Gameloft is of course back on Apple TV with its Apple Arcade title Ballistic Baseball. So, welcome back Gameloft. It’s stories like these that shape a platform and give it history, with games coming and going, rising and falling.

We’re certainly in a different place now then we were three years ago.

Ready to jump in the time machine? Excellent. Let’s go.

Continue reading “ICYMI: Recap – Celebrating 3 Years Of Apple TV Gaming – Year One (2016)”

How Many Controllers Can You Connect To Apple TV At Once?

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Updated May 2021: This story has been updated to include the newly added compatibility for the PlayStation 5 DualSense and Xbox Series S and X controllers. Compatibility for these came to tvOS recently via the 14.5 update. The information over the page has been updated accordingly, and the links to Apple’s pages remain current.

Original Story from September 2019:

Love that artwork Apple.

The gaming party is in full swing at the moment on Apple TV, thanks to tvOS 13 arriving a week early, and bringing Apple Arcade along with it.

With dozens and dozens of games to choose from, it can be a bit daunting at first deciding what to try first, and if you need help choosing, then let ATVG help carry your burden and head on over here to find out which four games I played first. Feel free to follow in my footsteps, my first night of Apple Arcade gaming on Apple TV was a cracker.

It seems there’s at least one of almost every genre to choose from on Apple Arcade, with more on the way, and many classic genres such as 2d fighters and kart racers really shine with local multiplayer. With this in mind, and also prompted by a long time reader’s recent question, I though why not take a look at just what you can connect to your Apple TV, and how many.

The results over the page might surprise you, and help you to realise that you actually own a very capable gaming console.

Continue reading “How Many Controllers Can You Connect To Apple TV At Once?”

PS4 and Xbox One Controller Support Coming To Apple TV – Just In Time For Apple Arcade

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And with that little bombshell, dropped onstage by Apple CEO Tim Cook at yesterday’s WWDC 2019 keynote, the puzzle pieces continue to fall into place for Apple Arcade.

Just over two years ago, prior to WWDC 2017, I asked developers what they would like to see announced for Apple TV in relation to gaming, and the common thread was an Apple-designed controller.

Two years on, following yesterday’s announcement, those developers didn’t quite get what they wanted, but maybe they got what they needed.

Mash that continue button for more.

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