Mobile games designed for TV

Why are we waiting for the Wii U to come out when we already have it? It’s called AirPlay.

The latest versions of Apple’s iOS supports a technology that allows you to display your mobile screen on the TV. Hooray! That means PowerPoints for everybody! Not exciting you? How about games, then?

The comparison between AirPlay and Wii U may have been a bit of a stretch, but the technology still presents an interesting opportunity for game developers. Anyone who has an Apple TV can share their iPad’s display over WiFi to be displayed on the TV. For games, AirPlay can take it one step further and allow you to display something different over the TV than what’s being shown on the iPad screen. In practice, this means you can control your character on the TV while having your dashboard controls on the iPad, touch screen and accelerometer included.
Who could forget this little gadget?
The concept of a TV game being controlled by mobile devices isn’t new. We’ve been able to do this in the past with the Game Boy Advance Link Cable (remember “The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures” or “Pokémon Colosseum”). Downfalls included a limited title selection, still having to have a dedicated console and being limited by the Game Boy Advance controls. Today’s technology combination with accelerometer sensors, wireless multiplayer and high-resolution displays have created the perfect storm that could really let this idea grow.

Multiplayer is where AirPlay could really shine.

Being able to have four or so iPhones connect to an iPad, having the iPad project something on the screen and having the individual controls be on their respective devices could lead to some pretty innovative games. Anyone who has played the Wii U can instantly make the connection between what AirPlay games could be and the direction that Nintendo is going with their games.

Testing out the games currently available in the market shows huge room for improvement. Many of them suffer from lag issues, general bugs (why is my place flickering!?) and don’t truly take advantage of all the different gameplay methods AirPlay allows for.

Higher performance games create some issues too. The iPad does have the ability to render some pretty great looking 3D graphics, but adding AirPlay to the mix adds a lot more work for the processor. It needs to render the game’s graphics, then compress the image and send it over WiFi to your router and then your Apple TV in real time. This means that right now, expansive worlds with elaborate 3D graphics may not be the target game for this platform.

Apple’s devices aren’t the only place where this is happening, either. Ouya is an Android based game console that’s currently in development, and while it takes a different approach to gaming by building the actual system in to the device connected to the TV (where as the Apple TV only acts as a dumb box to display what the iPad is feeding it), it could very easily integrate Android-powered controllers and take advantage of the same multiplayer, accelerometer and touch-screen goodness.
One of the great things about the expansion of mobile devices as a viable gaming platform is that the barrier to entry is so small that pretty much anyone can just start making something. The problem before was that your creation was just stuck on an individual device with a 3” screen. AirPlay and other implementations of it really allow anyone to develop games designed for TV just like the bigger consoles.