Playing Games on the Apple TV
In some ways, games on the Apple TV are just like any other kind of app: You get them at the App Store; Some are free, some are paid; they include in-app purchases; and you install and delete them in the same way. In other ways, though, they’re very different: They require that you use the remote in new ways, they let you play with your friends around the world, and some can let you pick up playing on another device where you left off on the Apple TV.
You won’t find the latest big-name releases for the PlayStation or Xbox on the Apple TV (at least not on the same day they’re released for the major consoles; sometimes they come out for Apple devices later), but enough fun, challenging games are available to keep you busy for hours, days, and weeks.
Use the Siri Remote to Play Games
For most Apple TV owners, the first way you play games is by using the Siri remote to control them. All you need to do is launch a game and then flip the remote sideways and—thanks to the accelerometer and gyroscope in it being able to understand how you’re holding it—you’ll be ready to play games.
Here’s what you need to know about what the remote’s buttons do when you’re playing games:
- The controls are different for each game. You’ll always use the touchpad and the buttons, but what they do isn’t consistent from game to game. Most games have tutorial modes or onscreen instructions. Look for those to learn how to use the remote for them.
- The touchpad is directional. In most cases, you’ll move through the game using the touchpad. Just like you swipe around apps and menus, you’ll move your character or other onscreen elements in games with the touchpad.
- Click the touchpad to take action. Clicking the touchpad in games does things like fire guns, jump, or take other in-game actions.
- Some games respond to the movement of the controller itself. Remember, the controller has an accelerometer and gyroscope in it, meaning that it can detect how you’re holding it and moving it. Some games respond to the movement of the remote, like on the Nintendo Wii.
Use Third-Party Game Controllers
If you or someone in your household is really into games, third-party game controllers probably make sense for you. These controllers look and function more like the controllers that come with the PlayStation or Xbox and give you different sorts of control options.
It’s not possible to provide a specific tutorial because so many controllers are available, each of which has a different configuration of buttons and options, so games might work slightly differently with each controller.
One useful thing to know is that after you’ve paired a game controller with your Apple TV, it can perform almost all the functions of the Siri Remote. Game controllers can navigate through menus and screens, select items, launch apps, and more. The only function a game controller can’t mirror is using Siri to control the TV by voice.
Sign In to Game Center
Game Center is an Apple service that lets you track the games you play and your high scores and achievements in them, connect with friends, play turn-based games, and even play multiplayer games over the Internet. If you’ve played many games on the iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you might have some experience with Game Center. It’s almost identical on the Apple TV—and it’s built in to the operating system.
If you have a Game Center account that uses your Apple ID, when you sign into your Apple ID on the Apple TV, you automatically sign in to the Game Center account, too. If you need to sign in to the account separately, though, follow these steps:
Select Game Center.
Select Sign in to Game Center.
Sign in to the Apple ID you use for your Game Center account and click Continue.
You’ll know you’re signed in when the menu changes to read Sign Out and shows your username. (Do not click this option unless you intend to sign out.)
Use Game Center to Check Scores
One of the fun things about Game Center is that it allows you to see the high scores in the games you play from players all around the world. This is a great way to see where you stack up or to find other players to challenge to head-to-head matches (assuming the game you play supports that, of course).
Different games provide different ways to access these scores, and not all games provide them, but look for menus called Scores or Game Center and you’ll be on the right track.
Challenge Friends to Games
Video games that you play on your own are fun, but the ones where you can play your friends—especially friends who live far away—are even better. Game Center makes it easy for you to challenge your friends to a match—assuming they have Game Center accounts and you’re friends in Game Center. Those are both requirements. Not all games, even ones that use Game Center, support this feature and no single tutorial can cover every kind of game.
That said, here’s an example of how one game—10 Pin Shuffle—handles head-to-head challenges. It provides a solid foundation to help you understand how other games might provide the same challenge-your-friends feature:
- Launch the game you want to play with your friend.
Find the Scores or Game Center menu and select it.
Find an achievement or score in the game and select it.
Select Challenge Friends.
- Choose the friend you want to play with from the list.
Click the Send button to challenge your friend and start playing (assuming he or she is online and accepts, that is).
Use Game Center for Multiplayer Gaming
Besides one-on-one matchups, Game Center supports multiplayer gaming with both your friends and other Game Center users whom you don’t know. Using this feature can be a great way to test your skills against other players worldwide and maybe even connect to people with similar interests.
Like other Game Center features, the exact way you use multiplayer gaming depends on the game. Not all games support it, and the ones that do have different ways of letting you join multiplayer games. This tutorial, using a paper airplane–flying game called Air Wings, gives a useful, though not universal, example:
- Launch the game.
Look for and select the option to start the game.
Look for and select its multiplayer option.
If offered, choose the number of players you want to compete with and click the touchpad.
Game Center gives you two options: play with strangers it finds for you, or play with your Game Center friends. To play with strangers, select Play Now. To play against your friends, select Invite Players.
If you select Play Now, Game Center looks for other players who have the game open and are looking for a multiplayer game to join. As it finds players and they join your game, they appear on the screen.
When all players are ready, Game Center connects you all into the same game session and starts you playing.