Apple TV Games Must Work With Apple TV Remote, May Not Require External Controller

When creating games and apps for the new Apple TV, developers are required to build in support for the touch-based remote, making all content accessible to all users without the need for additional accessories like an MFi controller.

As noted by developer Dustin Westphal and shared by our sister site Touch Arcade, Apple's App Programming Guide for the tvOS says the following: "Your game must support the Apple TV remote. Your game may not require the use of a controller."

The new Apple TV works with third-party Bluetooth controllers, but because they are an optional accessory, they are not allowed to be the primary input method for a game. This requirement will force developers who want to build games around controller use to also include a touch or motion-based control scheme for use with the Apple TV remote.

appletvremotegamecontroller
As Touch Arcade points out, the requirement is bound to be a hassle for developers, especially those with games that have complicated control schemes.

There will be games that will have control schemes that are too complicated for the remote, for sure. What if Apple rejects apps that feature terrible controls for the remote, designed only to achieve the bare minimum functionality? Or developers with complicated controls decide to skip making their app compatible with the Apple TV because it won't be worth it? Ideally, we don't want to get to a point where games aren't coming to the Apple TV, or being actively rejected, because they won't fit the remote.

Apple appears to have originally planned to allow developers to require a game controller to play Apple TV games, but the company later nixed that policy and is now requiring all games to support the Apple TV remote in addition to a controller.

Apple's choice to require support for the Apple TV is not surprising, as it also has the same requirements for iOS devices. Developers can build controller support into their iPhone and iPad apps, but apps must also include touch-based control schemes for users who do not have a controller.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 14
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

levitynyc Avatar
68 months ago
Thus driving a nail in the coffin for any companies interested in making good games for it.

No one on earth is going to buy this for its gaming capabilities.

Why even bother if you need to be able to control it with that disaster of a remote?

The NES is 30+ years old and is a more capable gaming machine than the Apple TV.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itsOver9000 Avatar
68 months ago
If that's the case Apple should create their own real controller and include it with the Apple TV.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rorschach Avatar
68 months ago
They probably don't want to have to deal with the inevitable onslaught of "I bought this game and I didn't know I needed to buy some accessory! I want a refund!" (even though the requirements were listed right on the app page).
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
caliguy Avatar
68 months ago
Not surprising. Many customers would complain if they needed to buy an additional accessory. People with 3rd party controllers will just be getting the high scores ;)
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rorschach Avatar
68 months ago

Thus driving a nail in the coffin for any companies interested in making good games for it.

No one on earth is going to buy this for its gaming capabilities.

Why even bother if you need to be able to control it with that disaster of a remote?

The NES is 30+ years old and is a more capable gaming machine than the Apple TV.

You don't NEED to.

All this means is that games have to work with the included remote, not that developers CAN'T support third-party controllers. They just can't require that you buy one to use the game at all.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jtropeano Avatar
68 months ago
Well there goes Guitar Hero / Rock Band, which was specifically talked about @ the Keynote.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple briefcase

AppleCare Memo Hints at Potential Hardware Announcement Next Tuesday

Thursday December 3, 2020 9:12 am PST by
Following a busy fall season in which Apple hosted three events in as many months, the company may have one more product announcement in store this year. In an internal memo this week, obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source, Apple informed service providers that it has AppleCare-related changes planned for Tuesday, December 8 at approximately 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time. Specifically, Apple ...
apple top apps games 2020

Apple Shares Top 20 Most Downloaded Games and Apps of 2020

Tuesday December 1, 2020 9:38 pm PST by
Alongside picks for the top iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps and games of the year, Apple today shared charts featuring the Top Games of 2020 and the Top Apps of 2020, revealing the most popular free and paid apps and games during the year. Among Us! was the top free game of 2020, followed by Call of Duty: Mobile, Roblox, and Subway Surfers. Ink Inc. Tattoo Drawing was the number four free app,...
homepod mini amazon echo size

$99 Speaker Showdown: HomePod Mini vs. Amazon Echo and Google Nest Audio

Wednesday December 2, 2020 3:12 pm PST by
Apple recently released the HomePod mini, a new $99 version of the original HomePod that's smaller, cuter, and, most importantly, competitively priced. At $99, the HomePod mini can better compete with affordable smart speakers from companies like Google and Amazon. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The HomePod mini has been praised for its high-quality sound at its...
iphone8guide b

iOS 14.2 Quietly Added FaceTime 1080p Support to iPhone 8 and Later Models

Wednesday December 2, 2020 3:21 am PST by
Back in early November, Apple released iOS 14.2 and announced with it a slew of new features for iPhones, but one thing it didn't mention was the apparent addition of support for 1080p FaceTime calls on iPhone 8 and later devices. The little-known fact was discovered by MacMagazine, which found that Apple quietly updated the specs pages for devices like iPhone XR shortly after the release of ...
16 inch MBP Mini Led

Kuo: Two Redesigned MacBook Pros in 2021 and New MacBook Air in 2022, All With Apple Silicon and Mini-LED Displays

Wednesday December 2, 2020 5:46 am PST by
Apple plans to release two redesigned MacBook Pros in 2021 and a new MacBook Air in 2022, all with mini-LED displays and Apple Silicon chips, according to TFI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a research note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that two new MacBook Pro models equipped with an all-new form factor design are expected to launch in 2021, and a new "affordable"...
iOS 14

Apple Releases Third Betas of iOS 14.3 and iPadOS 14.3 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday December 2, 2020 10:04 am PST by
Apple today seeded the third betas of upcoming iOS 14.3 and iPadOS 14.3 updates to developers for testing purposes, two weeks after releasing the second betas and a month after the launch of iOS and iPadOS 14.2. iOS and iPadOS 14.3 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper developer profile has been installed. The iOS 14.3 update brings the...
best apps of 2020

Wakeout! Named Apple's Best App of 2020, While Zoom Earns the Title for Best iPad App

Tuesday December 1, 2020 9:26 pm PST by
Apple today shared its App Store Best of 2020 winners, highlighting its picks for the top iOS, iPadOS, and macOS apps and games released over the course of the year. Apple's iPhone App of the Year award went to Wakeout!, which is a family friendly exercise and movement app that encourages people to complete easy exercises while at home. Apple's iPad App of the Year was Zoom, which soared in...
wristcam design

$299 'Wristcam' Adds a Pair of Cameras to Your Apple Watch

Thursday December 3, 2020 9:32 am PST by
The Apple Watch has never included a camera, likely due to battery life and space concerns. A new Apple Watch product aims to address that lack by introducing a wrist-worn camera that works with the Apple Watch. The Apple-certified Wristcam attaches to the Apple Watch in the form of a band that adds a rather large camera set to the top of the Apple Watch. It's quite thick and bulky, but can...
iphone 12 5g

Multiple iPhone 12 Users Report Sudden Drops in 5G and LTE Cellular Coverage

Thursday December 3, 2020 1:18 am PST by
Since Apple launched the iPhone 12 in October, an increasing number of users of the new smartphone have been reporting persistent drops in cellular coverage. Multiple reports of dropped 5G and LTE connectivity have appeared on Reddit, on Apple's support forums, and on the MacRumors forums, with many people suffering issues when walking or in transit and some seeing the same problem when...
magsafe duo charger

MagSafe Duo Charger for iPhone 12 and Apple Watch Now Available for Purchase

Tuesday December 1, 2020 4:15 pm PST by
Apple today began selling the MagSafe Duo Charger that was announced alongside the new iPhone 12 models back in October. Priced at $129, the MagSafe Duo offers a MagSafe charging puck for the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, and 12 mini, along with an Apple Watch charger. Though the accessory was announced in October and was listed as coming soon, it was not clear when it would launch. Orders...