Chris Jorgensen of Cascadia Games is no stranger to the idea of bringing iOS games to the larger screens of our lounge rooms. In 2012 he launched a Kickstarter campaign for his brainchild the GameDock - essentially a charging device that seats your iPhone and sends the signals out to your TV, complete with a couple of gamepads. The saga makes for a fascinating read, but in the end it seems the world wasn’t quite yet ready for an iOS-based microconsole.
Apple’s self-proclaimed “hobby” - the Apple TV - has been begging for a gaming component for years; it was only a matter of time. Promising a late October release, the fourth generation Apple TV will have its own App Store, a Siri remote that doubles as a controller, support for MFi controllers and games both big, small, casual and core.
Also Read: 23 and Counting - The Complete List of Apple TV Video Games
Cascadia Games has been working on bringing back the ‘90s MS-DOS classic Wacky Wheels for the last couple of years, and the retro arcade racer looks like it would be a perfect fit for some big screen fun. The studio recently announced that it has finished work on the game’s 16 grand prix tracks, and you can get a taste of the gameplay from the teaser embedded below.
The 2D puzzle-platforming of Cascadia’s Cavorite series, and the more action-oriented 2-bit Cowboy and Ammo Pigs, would also make for fantastic discoveries for any retro gaming enthusiasts hunting through the new Apple TV’s offerings. You can read our making of interview for 2-bit Cowboy and review in Episode 5 of Grab It.
With his past experience developing the GameDock, we reached out to Jorgensen to get an idea of his thoughts on the Apple TV. Does it have a future as a microconsole? Does Cascadia have plans to port its catalogue over to the new hardware?
With the announcement of the new Apple TV, what do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the device, and what life do you see for it in the microconsole space?
It has the App Store, that's the most important thing. Early on, I would bet a lot of games are shared across mobile and TV, so that should jumpstart content generation for it. I suspect it will be more successful than other microconsoles, but for whatever reason that space doesn't seem to be too big. In between phones, tablets, computers and video game consoles, is there really another spot consumers need to spend money? The shared purchases with iOS may be its saving grace.
Some big names have jumped on board - like Disney Infinity 3.0 and Guitar Hero Live - is Apple TV going to kick off a new market for Cascadia's games? Why or why not?
I see it as an extension of the iOS market rather than a full new market, similar to how iPads expanded things beyond iPhone. Nobody makes games just for the iPod, for example, and I think that's where Apple TV will sit for awhile. I'd love for it to be a hit but I doubt it will be enough to keep developers focused solely on the Apple ecosystem.
How do you see the 200MB limit of the app - with the remainder of the game being accessible on demand - affecting the types of games that will be successful?
It helps bigger games to have a capped initial wait while downloading before you can play. Though I expect most content to be mobile ports, so it probably won't have much impact on the type of content available early on.
Also Read: Don't Believe the Trolls - Apple TV Has No 200MB Game Limit
What type of development challenges does this delivery system serve up and does it make it considerably harder to work on certain genres
(open-world) over others (platformer)?
It adds complexity to app quality assurance and submission. Wacky Wheels, for example, will likely be bigger than 200 MB, assuming we port it to Apple TV. It may force us into requiring that players beat certain tracks in order to unlock new ones, giving time for the system to get the rest of the tracks, rather than offering all the content upfront. That adds new code complexity that might not have been there otherwise.
How do you feel about Apple limiting approval to apps that work with the Siri Remote as opposed to being compatible only with MFi controllers and how do you think it will impact the games?
Ultimately it’s probably a good thing for indies. More restrictions mean fewer games can be easily ported over, whether from mobile or another platform. I hate to fall back on the stereotype that indies are more nimble than big companies, but I do think the first really successful Apple TV game will come from an indie who has been experimenting with the remote.
With the motion-control capabilities of the Siri Remote, is the Apple TV likely to hit a similar audience as those who loved the all-in-the-room party games of the Wii era?
Too soon to say as I haven't seen any killer apps queued up for it, but I'm very curious to see what genre thrives first on Apple TV. With iPhone, there was an early wave of touch plus physics games, which I suspect was due to touch being an intuitive action and the physics being a natural response. What will feel natural on an Apple TV?
Can we expect to see a heavier price point for Apple TV apps over the current norm - say $5 to $20, or even more?
I doubt it. In fact, I expect there to be a wave of iPhone game ports early on at the same price points. Once the ad SDKs catch up, we’ll see those games too. I don’t see the price race to the bottom ending with Apple TV.
Which of your back catalogue of games might you see working on Apple TV and what are your current plans to bring them to the big screen?
All of them, I hope!
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