Apple Now Requiring All Apple TV Games To Support Siri Remote Input

16 September 2015

App Programming Guide for tvOS:

Apple has created specific requirements you must follow for any game that supports game controllers. These requirements are designed to make sure that games are always playable.

Your game must support the Apple TV remote. Your game may not require the use of a controller.

Despite full Game Controller support in the SDK and originally claiming that controller-only games were okay, Apple now says that all Apple TV games must be playable with the Siri Remote.

The policy yields a natural lowest-common denominator scenario where game designers are required to limit their creativity to games with control schemes that are compatible with the Siri Remote.1 Although the Apple TV technically supports console-style controllers (with dedicated D-Pad and dual analog sticks) the unique advantages of those input methods will never be considered by game developers if this rule goes through.

They’ll have to base the game design around the features offered by the Siri Remote, as that’s the requirement. Any game that can’t be played with a touchpad and some buttons will not be made. Traditional console titles like first-person shooters, which rely on dual analog sticks, are suddenly out of bounds. Moreover, games that are made will only support MFI controllers half-heartedly — it will just be a port of the Siri Remote control scheme.

Apple should definitely stand down here and backtrack. As long as games clearly marked in the App Store that they need additional accessories, I see no reason why Apple shouldn’t let devs make games that need other hardware to function. iPhone apps are allowed to do exactly that … you don’t see any negative complaints about it. On iOS, apps are allowed to be tied to specific hardware given that they are clear about the prerequisite hardware in their App Store listing. The Apple TV should have similar rules.

1 The GCMicroGamepad class describes the representation of the Siri Remote as a game controller. You get a virtualised D-Pad (via the touchpad) and two physical buttons, button ‘A’ and button ‘X’.