The Popularity of Gaming on Connected TV Explained Platform by Platform

Connected television (CTV) has become an established part of the media landscape in most developed countries and is continuing to increase its presence across the world. A majority of households in the United States, over 61%, currently use a smart TV device to consume TV and video from CTV sources, and in the Latin American region, 84% of media consumers report that they prefer CTV applications and video streaming to conventional ‘comes with a cord,’ linear TV.  This market is growing exponentially and the opportunity for content creators is huge, but it’s not just in TV and video, CTV gaming apps  have considerable potential too.

Out of those  previously mentioned Americans that consume CTV content via a smart TV, 68% of them also play video games, and this cuts across generations; it’s not just the preserve of younger users  like Generation Z. The opportunity for gaming app creators is therefore considerable, yet they face a challenge  because of the fact that CTV was originally designed for video streaming, TV and video content, and not for games. Each major platform in the industry has its own specific requirements for gaming content, unique capabilities, and features.

This article will cover all of the major CTV TV apps and how they operate gaming content. We’ll start with one of the internet’s true giants, one that’s  probably best-known for its devices rather than its content – Apple.

Apple TV

The great  thing about Apple TV is that it comes integrated with Apple Arcade. This subscription-based gaming service gives users access to a vast library of games across a variety of genres. It also has great functionality for multiplayer gaming, allowing users to connect multiple controllers for local multiplayer gameplay in person, so it’s not just for virtual collaboration.   Users don’t need to rely on a smart TV to be able to play video gaming apps as some games on Apple TV support play across devices that also have CTV functions, like iPhones, iPads, and Macbook Pros.

Apple TV also has a particular advantage when it comes to graphics and visual quality as it supports up to 4K HDR resolution, perfect for when you want to enjoy the video streaming and gaming experience to the maximum, in addition to conventional TV and video. The platform is powered by Apple’s A-series chips which are well known for their smooth performance and responsive gameplay, even for graphics-intensive titles. Finally, Apple TV syncs game progress and data using iCloud so users can easily switch between different Apple devices and continue their gameplay where they left off.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon’s CTV offering for gaming app content is in many ways similar to Apple’s as it offers a range of titles that cover a wide variety of genres, ensuring that there’s something for everyone, even those with specific appetites. The platform also offers its own dedicated Fire TV Game Controller, which connects to the  Fire TV device via Bluetooth, unlike Apple which relies on third-party devices. It’s also ideal for video streaming as Amazon is the parent owner of the video streaming platform Twitch, so if you’re looking to create CTV gaming content that’s going to be streamed then you should prioritize this service. 

Another highlight of Amazon Fire TV is that it comes with the maker’s  well-known Alexa voice assistant tool, one of the best currently available on the market and ideal for families wanting to minimize content selection time. There’s also pretty solid multiplayer functionality too which makes Amazon’s platform perfect for collaborative experiences, whether that be within families, between friends, or with online communities that you join yourself. Finally, Amazon Luna comes included, allowing you to stream a growing library of games directly to your Fire TV device while also allowing you to access subscription channels without the need to download anything.

Google Chromecast with Google TV

This platform, which we’ll refer to as Google TV from now on, is similar to both Apple and Amazon’s CTV offerings. However, there are a couple of key differences that are worth looking into. Firstly, like the aforementioned platforms, Google TV allows you to download a variety of gaming apps via the Google Play Store which has many  popular titles, indie games, and retro classics at your disposal, along with TV and video.  There’s also solid multi-player functionality, making it easy to play with friends and family, and as Google TV features Google Assistant integration, you can use voice commands for tasks such as launching games, navigating menus, and controlling gameplay.

An interesting aspect of Google TV’s functionality, especially when compared with the previous two platforms, is that it offers Google Stadia, a cloud gaming platform, as standard. If you have a subscription to this service you can stream and play a variety of high-quality games directly on your Chromecast, and as it offers a growing library of games, you can play them without having to download them. Google TV is also advantageous for families as it includes the Family Library, which allows you to share purchased games and apps with other family members, which eliminates the need for costly re-purchasing of gaming apps.

Roku TV

Roku is less well-known for gaming apps and related content and is more heavily focused on TV and video streaming options as only 2% of its content is game related, but there are still reasons why you should consider this platform. For starters, while there is a more limited selection on this CTV platform, the games that are present are ideally suited to  casual gaming. 

This is highlighted by the fact that Roku offers a game remote option that features motion control capabilities, similar to a Wii remote, which allows you to play motion-based games by moving the remote. However, the drawback here is that this controller is still sold separately and not all games are compatible with it.

There are two more interesting aspects to Roku’s CTV platform, starting with screen mirroring, which enables you to mirror the screen of your mobile device or computer to your TV. This functionality allows you to play games from your mobile device on the big screen using Roku as the display, and it works with Android and iOS devices. Finally,  the Roku mobile app lets you use your mobile device as a game controller for certain games, providing a more customized gaming experience while you play games or watch TV and video.

Other Options for Smart TV Gaming

You don’t just have to rely on these four platforms however as there are several cloud gaming services available that are compatible with CTV platforms, as well as TV and video. These services allow you to stream and play games directly on your TV without the need for a dedicated  console or high-end gaming hardware. Here are some popular cloud gaming services that are compatible with CTV platforms:

Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly xCloud): Xbox Cloud Gaming is a cloud  service provided by Microsoft that allows you to stream and play Xbox games on various devices, including CTV platforms. With an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you can access a large catalog of Xbox games and play them directly on your TV using compatible CTV devices.

NVIDIA GeForce NOW: One that’s familiar to all serious gamers, NVIDIA GeForce NOW enables you to stream and play PC games on compatible devices, including CTV platforms. With a GeForce NOW subscription, you can access a library of games and play them without the need for high-end gaming hardware.

You’ve Found Your Platform – What Next?

Finding the right CTV platform for gaming apps is one thing but if you want to optimize your experience there are a number of key points you should implement. Start off by ensuring you have a stable and reliable internet connection by connecting your CTV device using an Ethernet cable or having a strong Wi-Fi signal. Most controllers weren’t designed for CTV apps either, so consider using a wired game controller for better responsiveness. 

When you’re playing, make sure you close unnecessary background apps to make  system resources available and ensure smoother performance, and regularly update firmware and gaming apps for performance improvements and new features. Similarly, you need to properly manage your game library to free up storage space on limited platforms and utilize cloud gaming services, which will also help to reduce latency. Finally, customize the accessibility options provided by CTV platforms to ensure a more comfortable and individualized experience, which you can do in general settings, or by exploring game-specific settings.

Follow these tips and your CTV gaming experience will be one characterized by more  satisfaction and enjoyment. As video streaming, as well as TV and video generally come together to create an increasingly inter-linked gaming ecosystem, new content and technology are on the horizon. Ready for playing games? We are.