Apple TV Gaming Rumors Flare Up, but Would It Be Just a Hobby?

New hardware could have a store for games, reports suggest.

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Now that the pieces are in place, Apple may bring video games to its Apple TV set-top box within the next few months.

Citing “reliable industry sources,” iLounge claims that game support will come via an update for Apple TV in March or earlier. Meanwhile, 9to5Mac reports that Apple will launch a new version of the Apple TV hardware, likely in the first half of this year, with “new types of content.” This could include a store for downloading games.

The idea of an Apple game console has been kicking around for years, but it seems more realistic now that Apple has added game controller support in iOS7. Although the first controllers from Moga and Logitech only work with the iPhone, new controllers from SteelSeries and Signal use Bluetooth, allowing them to pair with the iPad and potentially Apple TV. The number of games that support these controllers is small, but growing.

It’s already possible to play games on an Apple TV using AirPlay screen mirroring from an iPhone or iPad, but that puts a strain on device battery life and can be prone to input lag. Letting players load games directly onto Apple TV would eliminate those problems.

Assuming it’s just a matter of time until Apple TV gets game support, the bigger question is whether Apple will consider gaming to be a “hobby” for the company, much like Apple TV had been for years. In other words, would gaming be a big focus if it actually arrives — something Apple would demonstrate in its stores and advertise on its website — or would it be a quiet addition that most users won’t even notice?

On the iPhone, at least, controller-based gaming isn’t getting much love from Apple. There’s no easy way to find games with controller support in the App Store, and Apple itself didn’t make any announcements about the first controllers when they launched in December. It doesn’t help that the controllers are expensive, ranging from $80 to $100, and 9to5Mac points out that there have been numerous issues with quality control. The whole initiative feels like it’s in beta.

But perhaps that’s the point. If Apple does want to heavily promote gaming on Apple TV, it can use this time to work out the kinks and build up a bigger library of supported games. At least that’s my hope, as there’s lots of potential here.

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