The Apple TV is already a game console, in case you didn’t know, and a new app from independent developer and AirPlay-focused startup Splitmo shows why. The company has just released Poker Night TV, its second app and first game, which uses AirPlay and the Apple TV to let up to eight players join in for a virtual poker game on their TV set.
The free to play game displays the common cards from a game of Texas Hold’em on the Apple TV-connected display, while individual hands are shown on connected iOS devices. If you don’t have an Apple TV handy, an iPad can also substitute as the virtual “table” or main display, or just use their individual devices on their own, too.
Splitmo started out with a special focus on AirPlay, having created Air Show, as a slideshow creator and controller for Apple TV on iOS. The startup, which is built by a team of founders based in North Carolina that have previously worked on mobile apps built specifically for carrier customers, is going all-in on a strategy of promoting the capabilities of Apple’s cross-device ecosystem, and Poker Night TV is an exemplary use case of those special hooks that Apple offers for those customers who embrace their product lines across a range of hardware.
Poker Night TV also offers a number of other bells and whistles for poker aficionados, including the percentage likelihood specific hands have to win. And it offers in-game real world prizes for winners, such as pizza, as an incentive to keep playing. But the real trick is AirPlay, since it’s an execution of Apple’s secret gaming payload.
Others have been exploring the uses of this tech, including SketchParty TV and Sky Gamblers. It has lots of potential, most of which remains unexplored. It’s true that there’s massive upfront investment required to make it work; users need not only an Apple TV but various iOS devices to use with it. But the difference between it and traditional home consoles is that AirPlay gaming doesn’t require users to buy things just for gaming. In most cases, they’ll already have the devices required, minus maybe a $100 Apple TV unit.
Big consoles may still be attracting eyeballs and pre-order dollars, but the one to watch long-term is Apple, as it increases the interoperability between its mobile devices and other platforms including the Apple TV and OS X.