Turn an Apple TV into a video games console with this guide to Apple TV gaming. Thanks to a combination of AirPlay and Game Controller you can create an Apple TV video games machine. An abundance of AirPlay games for Apple TV make for a great gaming experience. And with an MFI (Made For iPhone) Game Controller you can play video games using an Apple TV console style gamepad.

This tutorial will show you how to turn your Apple TV into a games console. You will need the following equipment:

  • Apple TV.
  • iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod touch).
  • Wi-Fi network (preferably 5GHz).
  • Optional: MFI (Made for iPhone) game controller.
  • AirPlay enabled games.

Setup Apple TV as a games console

You’ll need to start by setting up the Apple TV and connecting it to a Wi-Fi network. This will enable you to stream games from an iOS device to the Apple TV. This feature: How to set up Apple TV: Starting guide and navigation shortcuts can guide you through the setup process.

In order for games to stream smoothly we suggest you connect the Apple TV to a 802.11n 5Ghz network. Most Wi-Fi base stations run in the slower 802.11g 2.4GHz band, which has wider compatibility with older devices. Apple’s AirPort Extreme device features dual antennas (one for 2.4GHz and one for 5Ghz networking).

Turn on AirPort 5GHz

If you have a Time Capsule or AirPort Extreme, follow these steps to ensure 5Ghz networking is turned on:

  1. Connect Time Capsule or AirPort Extreme to broadbandmodem.
  2. Open AirPort Utility in Mac OS X.
  3. Click on the AirPort device icon and click Edit.
  4. Choose the Wireless tab and click Wireless Options .
  5. Ensure that a check is in the Box Next to 5GHz Network Name.

Be sure to connect both the Apple TV and iOS device to the network in 5GHz Network Name. By default it will be the name of your Network (such as “AirPort”) followed by 5GHz. Connecting both devices to this network will ensure a smoother gaming experience.

See: How to Mac How to set up a Time Capsule

Apple TV Network 5GHz

Connect iOS game to the Apple TV with AirPlay

AirPlay is the technology that is used to share the game from an iOS device to the Apple TV. You need to ensure that AirPlay is turned on at the Apple TV. Follow these steps to turn on AirPlay:

  1. On the Apple TV click on Settings > AirPlay.
  2. Click on AirPlay and set AirPlay to On.

If you want to ensure that nobody else on the same network can access the Apple TV you can secure the system using the Security setting. Click on Security and change Access Control to either Onscreen Code or Password. Require Device Verification is yet another level of security that ensures only an iOS device verified using the Apple TV can stream to the device (even if it has the passcode).

Apple TV AirPlay On

If you want to use the iOS device as a remote control for the iOS device you should also turn on Home Sharing. Follow these steps to turn on Home Sharing on the Apple TV:

  1. Click on Settings > Computers.
  2. Click on Turn On Home Sharing.
  3. Enter an Apple ID (this is the @icloud, @me, or @mac address that you use in iTunes and for the App Store). Click Submit.
  4. Enter the password associated with Apple ID and click Submit.
  5. On iOS device click on Settings > Music.
  6. Enter the same Apple ID and Password into the fields in the Home Sharing section.

With Home Sharing turned on you can control the Apple TV using the iOS device. Download the Remote app from the App Store (App Store Link).

See also:

Using a MFI controller

It is perfectly possible to use the Apple TV as a game console with just an Apple TV and an iOS device. You use the touch screen of the iPad or iPhone to control the game, or use the device’s accelerometer as a controller (tilting the iPhone left or right to mimic the action of a steering wheel in a racing game, for example).

However, the experience becomes much more console-like if you attach a MFI (Made For iPhone/iPod/iPad) Game Controller to the iPhone. There isn’t a huge range of Game Controllers currently available. The most popular is the MOGA ACE POWER (£79.95). This clips to the iPhone 5/5s or iPod touch 5th generation and gives it console-style buttons, joysticks and a D-Pad. If you are using an iPad to stream you may want to use a separate MFI Game Controller. The SteelSeries Stratus Wireless Gaming Controller (£59.95) is similar to the kind of controller you would find on a games console, it communicates wirelessly with the iPad (or iPhone) while it streams the game to the television.

Apple TV Game Controller

How to play games to Apple TV

Once you have an Apple TV set up and ready to stream you’ll want to start playing a game. Launch a game on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. There are two different types of technique available: AirPlay and AirPlay Mirroring.

If a game is designed to support AirPlay it will create a dual-screen system that plays the game on the television, while using the iOS device to display other information (such as control buttons or health meters).

To stream a game using AirPlay follow these steps:

  1. Tap the game’s App Icon on iOS device to start playing. it
  2. Start the game using the on-screen controls.
  3. Open Control Centre (slide your finger up from the bottom of the screen, you may have to slide it up twice: once to open the Control Centre tab icon, and a second time to open Control Centre itself).
  4. Tap on AirPlay.
  5. Tap the Apple TV option and Done.
  6. Slide down to remove Control Centre and return to the game.

If the game supports AirPlay you should see them main game running on the main display while the controls remain on the iOS device. If the game does not support AirPlay the game will continue to play on the iOS device, but the sound will start to stream from the Apple TV.

Apple TV Turn AirPlay On in Control Centre

In this case you can still play the game on the Apple TV using AirPlay Mirroring:

  1. Tap the game’s App Icon on the iOS device to start playing it.
  2. Start the game using the on-screen controls.
  3. Open Control Centre (slide your finger up from the bottom of the screen, you may have to slide it up twice: once to open the Control Centre tab icon, and a second time to open Control Centre itself).
  4. Tap on AirPlay.
  5. Tap the Apple TV option.
  6. Switch the Mirroring button to On.
  7. Tap on Done.

Now everything you play on the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will be duplicated on the television screen. You’ll still need to look at the iOS device to touch any on-screen controls, so it works better for some games than others. But mirroring is ideal for games with simple controls, like Asphalt 8; or for games that just require you to tap the screen, like Tiny Wings or Beat Sneak Bandit.

See: How to use AirDrop & AirPlay in iOS 7

Apple TV games list: the best Apple TV games to play

If you are using an Apple TV as a games console some games are great to get. Here is our guide to some of the best Apple TV and AirPlay integrated games. These will help you get started:

See also: The 75 best games for iPhone and iPad: Great gaming apps for iOS tablets and smartphones