The next Apple TV should replace all of my gaming consoles — here's how it could

The hardware and interface for Apple TV 4K in 2022.
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

Gamers, I come in peace. I too am an owner of many consoles, so please don't come to my apartment with controllers raised like pitchforks. But I've got a somewhat-unlikely hope for the future of my living room gaming sessions — and it puts Apple TV at the heart of it.

I've been a console gamer since...well, since I can remember. I have misty memories of playing Duck Hunt on the Super Nintendo when I was really young. Over the years, I got console after console. From the Sega Dreamcast to the original Xbox and then into the modern console era like the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch, console gaming has been something that has followed me throughout my entire life.

I had a short stint in PC gaming during my college years (looking at you, World of Warcraft) but by and large, I've been a console gamer. And, after an entire life as a console gamer, I am wondering if I could rid them all in favor of an iPhone and an Apple TV.

It may sound crazy, but Apple has slowly been putting the pieces together to make this dream a reality.

Apple is gearing up for this future

I know, I know. Every time someone writes about Apple making an actual play to become a competitor in the gaming industry, we all roll our eyes and go back to our consoles and PCs and wait another decade.

And for good reason. While Apple has obviously made its mark on the mobile gaming industry, the Mac has never been a serious competitor to Windows when it comes to AAA gaming. While there have certainly been more games coming to the Mac over the last few years (and our list of the best Mac games should be any game-playing MacBook owner's first port of call), the brand recognition is just not there yet. Apple hasn't been able to shake that perception that Mac just isn't a great gaming platform.

Apple M3 processors

(Image credit: Apple)

However, Apple silicon started to change the game for Apple and has opened up the possibility for the company to finally take a shot at the console and Windows gaming market. The latest A-Series and M-Series chips are insanely fast and efficient, bringing games like Death Stranding to not only the Mac but the iPhone as well with the A17 Pro chip running in the iPhone 15 Pro.

With a game like that running on my Mac and my iPhone, there's only one other place I'd want it to run to consider buying it through Apple rather than PlayStation: my television. And that's where the Apple TV comes in.

The Apple TV would close the loop on gaming

While it's great that I can now play a AAA game on my iPhone and Mac, there's one key device I still can't that's a huge problem for a console gamer like myself. That device, of course, is on my television.

As a lifelong Xbox gamer (and now PS5 and Switch gamer), I've grown up playing video games on my television. It's so ingrained in me that something feels wrong about a game that I can only play on my phone or my computer. There's something about playing from the couch or the floor in front of the TV that's so key for me that I need that from any gaming platform.

Apple TV on Playstation 5

(Image credit: Sony)

That's where the Apple TV close the loop on gaming for me. The current Apple TV 4K is great and can handle almost every game that Apple Arcade, Apple's game subscription service, can throw at it. However, the A15 Bionic chip powering the Apple TV just isn't powerful enough to port something like Death Stranding (or any AAA game) onto it.

However, rip that A17 Pro chip out of the iPhone 15 Pro and drop it into an Apple TV and things get interesting. Of course, Apple may even need to go with something like the M3 chip from the Mac to power a gaming-focused Apple TV due to the A17 Pro only having to power a tiny iPhone screen instead of a 65-inch television. On a screen the size of an iPhone you can get away with lower resolution rendering — but 4K is the standard now in the living room, and that's a potential challenge for high-end titles even on Apple's top-tier mobile chip.

Regardless, the company now has the chips to bring AAA gaming to the Apple TV, and I think Apple really should. The box already supports the most popular gaming controllers like the PlayStation DualSense and Xbox Wireless controller. Now it's time to support games that are worthy of those controllers.

Apple could offer a compelling AAA experience

I imagine a world where I can buy a AAA game and, when I'm at home, sit down in front of my Apple TV and play my game on the big screen. Then, grab my Mac and take it with me to a local coffee shop and continue playing. And then, hop on a plane and continue to play on my iPhone.

Apple needs to clear a few hurdles to make this happen, including getting developers on board to let people buy their game on one device and play it everywhere — something some developers are not keen on doing. But it would create the best experience for both Apple and the developer's customers.

The company also needs to get developers to want to develop AAA games for its devices. While Apple has gotten some games to port to some devices, it has yet to release a AAA game exclusively on its platforms for what at least feels like forever.

MacBook Pro with PlayStation 5 controller

(Image credit: Future)

Then there's multiplayer. The Xbox Series S|X and PS5 have tons of online gaming features built-in, and that's something that Apple doesn't have built out yet — Game Center is severely lacking. I can't imagine playing Helldivers with friends on all of my Apple devices yet, unless I'm supposed to run everything through Discord — you know Apple would want a more native experience for that.

Regardless of all of those issues that would need to be resolved, I think Apple has the devices and the chipsets to make this kind of future a reality. Xbox and PlayStation are both already after this idea that you can access and play your console games on the go. Between the PlayStation Portal, Backbone, and handheld gaming PCs like the Steam Deck and the Asus ROG Ally, taking AAA games on the go is the future.

Apple, as within many other areas of its business, could build such an integrated experience that it may be able to offer the most compelling platform to buy games on compared to everyone else. It could finally become a major player in gaming (not fake mobile gaming but real gaming). And the Apple TV could be the key.

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Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.