Why Make Apple TV Pro And Mini

Apple TV hardware has languished. Apple is in the hardware business and could do better with Apple TV. Here are some ideas.


The naming, pricing, and marketing should all be refreshed.

Naming

To help differentiate Apple’s TV products and services, I suggest two new Apple TV hardware models called: Apple TV Pro and “Apple TV Mini.”

These names would better distinguish the hardware from the software app, “Apple TV” and the service, “Apple TV+.”

Pricing

Apple TV Mini

It should hit the magical $99 price point. It would match the HomePod Mini at the same price and be more competitive with other TV boxes. And even if Apple TV Mini had the least market share, more people would buy it than the current Apple TV box because it would be more affordable. That’s more revenue for Apple.

To hit $99, Apple TV Mini would be like a small streaming stick with one feature: 4K resolution. So no Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio, or HDR. And it would have only 32GB of storage since it would be for streaming not storing content.

Apple TV Pro

This one should start at $199 and be marketed towards the gotta-have-it-all crowd and…gamers. It would feature 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio, and start with 64GB up to 1TB.

And throw in a free trial subscription of Apple Arcade.

It would be a small box like the current Apple TV hardware and be for storing loads of games or videos.

GamePad

Apple TV Pro would pair with an all-new Apple GamePad.” This new device would sell for $99 and would have physical buttons, be shaped more like a modern game controller with analog sticks, and also serve as the remote control.

The GamePad would utilize the W-series and ultra-wide band chips from Apple for auto-magically pairing (like AirPods) with Apple TV Pro and for finding with Apple’s upcoming (rumored) AirTags product. It would, of course, work with games on iPad and iPhone too.

Marketing

Marketing for Apple TV Pro and Mini would draw both consumers and developers. For the Pro, “Casual Console” gaming would attract more buyers and also compel game developers to…step up their game.

If Apple really wanted to lean into gaming, they could call their Apple TV Pro device the all-new, “GamePod.”

An Apple TV Pro (GamePod) with Apple GamePad and Apple Arcade would, like Nintendo, differentiate from hardcore gamers (Xbox and PlayStation) and lean towards more casual gaming. And of course, it would have the distinct advantage of a vast library of mobile games from iOS.

Apple could promote Apple TV Pro with Apple Watch and Fitness+ by pairing them together, like how Apple integrates Apple Watch, Fitness+ and Apple TV for video workouts.

It could also enable more interactive games, using Apple Watch, with its fitness and motion sensors, to track movement similar to the Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure.


Family Friendly

My wife and I have five sons, and we all play Nintendo. Owning two Switches, many 2DS devices, and a Wii U, we enjoy different types of gaming across several age brackets. Of course, Nintendo’s intellectual property, franchises like Mario and Zelda, are the “software that sells hardware.”

Apple can mirror Nintendo as a Family Friendly game distributor and leverage its Apple Arcade service along with a new Apple TV Pro device (GamePod) to sell more of its own TV boxes, peripherals, and third party and indie game apps. Apple is poised with the potential.

Think about it. An Apple TV Pro at $199 plus a GamePad at $99 would basically match the cost of a Nintendo Switch at $299.

Making Apple TV Pro would address the current languished state of Apple’s TV hardware. Pushing into home console gaming via Apple TV would do more for Apple’s overall gaming efforts than has its Augmented Reality gaming push.

If nothing else, a sub-$100 Apple TV Mini would revitalize the platform and be a strong complement to HomePod.


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The Great Game Backlog

I was prompted to share the feels on this topic thanks to a Gaming Diaries post about what I’m calling the Great Game Backlog. We gamers usually have a number of games waiting to be played, started, or finished. It’s a good problem to have, yet it feels more bad than good. Or is it just me?


Surely it’s not just me. There are so many good video games out there to play. But even if we limit ourselves to only the greats, I think the total game-time exceeds our available play-time. So no matter how often we pick up a controller, the backlog of hit titles to enjoy just keeps growing, like the multi-form final boss that just won’t die. Dude!

This big backlog problem exists even if you restrict yourself to just one home console system. For me, it’s the Nintendo Switch. That might not be a fair example, though, because the Switch not only has its own games, it also has ports and remasters of many games from other consoles like Xbox 360 and PS3.

In any case, there are a ton of Switch games, especially if you add up the indie or casual mobile games.

I’ve got a list of games I’m eager to start playing. They live squarely on my backlog, jammed up by whatever current game I’m enjoying. The game backlog is so common, it’s a default list when you sign-up on Grouvee. You can see mine at this link. While my list is short, it feels really…jammed up.

The thing that makes me feel most bad is not that I’m playing an awesome game now and must wait to start the others. It’s that, for various reasons, I tend to stop playing my current game! So the backlog must wait even longer.

That’s my problem. I don’t really stop, but I pause in a game for weeks at a time. I’m a Dad with a family and career. I have many responsibilities. If gaming were one, I’d be almost failing at it. It just makes me have some grief. I should be enjoying this awesome game until I beat it. But life happens, parenting and work exist, so play and personal time get side-tracked. And, apparently, back-logged!

The other distraction from my current game is that when I pause, I sometimes end up starting a new one anyways. So now I’ve got TWO games I must finish, the current one and the previous one. Only then can I continue to the next game in the backlog queue.

Link’s Amiibo fits his game case.

Also, there are easier entertainment distractions! When I could be gaming, I often am watching a movie or surfing YouTube. Passive watching is less interactive than gaming. So it becomes a habit to neglect my paused game, stretching the hiatus longer.

An example: In February 2019, I “paused” my game-play in Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. I finally un-paused in November that same year, finishing it in December (woo-hoo)! Meanwhile, my games backlog didn’t get any smaller.

Anyways, I try to see the backlog as a good problem. I have the privilege of playing lots of games, both short simple ones and the 100+ hour JRPG grinds I love to get absorbed into during long late night sessions. Being in my 40’s means I don’t get many of those sessions. But when I do, I sometimes feel like a kid again!

I look forward to picking up the controller. I last paused on Ni No Kuni and am now enjoying Link’s Awakening. I must enjoy both until each are finished, then I can start enjoying Tales of Vesperia! I’ve been looking forward to that one.

And you know what? That’s one thing that pulls me through my current game(s) if I get bogged down. It’s the anticipation of the upcoming new cool game that spurs me on to keep plugging away, mashing the buttons. Enjoy it, don’t rush. Look forward briefly, but stay focused on the present game and soak it up for all its fun.

So do you struggle with getting your game on, whittling down the backlog? It shouldn’t feel like a slog, right? It should be fun! Do you ever feel lazy for NOT playing your video games?


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New Games And Game News

Hello from a frigid west central Texas today. Besides enduring a rare Blizzaga, I’ve got cool news and bone-chilling news. What’s cool? New video games! What’s chilling? The sad revelation that my favorite game store is closing.


So Friday, I went to my local GameStop. I was there to pick-up my pre-ordered release of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury. Yes! The new Switch game was for my son’s birthday. I threw in a new Bowser Amiibo for good measure.

While there, I learned that my fave of the 3 local GameStops was closing permanently. Whaaa!? No! What’s worse, it’s actually only 1 of 2 left. The other of the 3 stores closed in the local mall last Summer, a Covid-19 casualty.

So now there will be only one local GameStop left. I fear it won’t last. Worse again, it’s the one that’s farther from where I live. It’s also smaller than the one closing.

Okay, so that’s kind of depressing. Let’s end on a higher note.

Once I told my wife about our GameStop’s predicament, and the closing sale they were having, she went there herself to do some shopping. Among our economic stimuli purchases, she finally picked up for us…a new Zelda game! For real. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

I’ve been playing the game this weekend. It’s a little gem! Simple, casual, concentrated Zelda puzzle, action-adventure goodness.

This Zelda is a remake from the original GameBoy game. The lush art and graphics are exquisite. The gameplay and control are tight. It exudes the quality one comes to expect of a flagship Nintendo title.

Alright, so that’s a little gaming blog update. I still have many other games backlogged or on pause (Ni No Kuni!). But the new Zelda remake is so easy to pick up and play.

As for the store closing, well, I am happy for the manager there. He’s getting a good personal opportunity out of it. I’m glad for him. He will be missed though. He’s a great salesman and gamer and gets 5-stars from me for customer service. No kidding. I wish him the best.

Take care, y’all.


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Playing All The Roles

Hey blog buds and fellow web surfers, I hope your holiday season is cheerful. In my time off, I’ve been able to get more work done around the house (project backlog) and also play Nintendo! Fun times of escape going on here. So many good role-playing games! So allow me to explore, expound, and exclaim a bit.


Roles Played

A quick review of RPGs I finished this year. Winter started with Pokemon Sword. Next, Octopath Traveler (this is one I’ve yet to complete). Spring and early Summer were filled with Animal Crossing: New Horizons and reading a bunch of books – so no RPGs then.

But late Summer and Fall were fantastic. I re-finished Final Fantasy VII. Then I finally played and finished, for the first time, Final Fantasy X – HD Remaster.

That’s a lot of RPG goodness!

To see all the RPGs I’ve played to date, go to my Grouvee list.

Role Playing Now

The current RPG I’m playing, which I started this Fall, is none other than Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. In short, I’m around 20 hours into it, and it’s marvelous! I’m SO enjoying every bit of it! And there’s still much great stuff in the game to look forward to. This game deserves its own full blog post!

So that’s 5 RPGs I’ve played this year – lots to like – yet I can’t resist also looking forward to many other RPGs on my backlog – so many good ones, so little time!

Roles To Play

Next on my to-play list is Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. What will be my first Tales game ever, it’s an action-RPG like Ni No Kuni, also with an anime art style. It will be cool to compare the two once I’ve played them.

After that, oh my, it’s hard to choose. I plan to go back at some point and enjoy finishing Octopath Traveler – it’s a great game!

But Square Enix is releasing a new turn-based RPG early next year: Bravely Default II. It looks like I MUST play it! If I don’t, it’ll be one that I wish I hadn’t passed up. So I’d like to grab whatever special edition may be released for it – a physical copy.

There’s also the much loved and lauded Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition action-RPG. It originally came out on the Wii; I’ve never played it! But I have played about 20 hours of Xenoblade Chronicles X on the Wii U, so I have an idea of what it’s like. It should be awesome, so I’ve got that on my wishlist too.

Lastly, I might also play one other biggun’ – Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition. The title alone is grandiose! It would be my first ever DQ game. Slimes! Yeah, I’ve got to play this one too.

So I guesstimate I have about 330 hours of awesome roles to play in 2021:

  1. Ni No Kuni – 45 hours remaining
  2. Octopath Travler – 25 hours remaining
  3. Tales of Vesperia – 60 hours
  4. Bravely Default II – 60 hours
  5. Xenoblade Chronicles – 70 hours
  6. Dragonquest XI – 70 hours

Yeah, wow! And I’m not really in a hurry. I enjoy immersing in the gameworld, taking on the role of hero, growing characters, discovering secrets, solving puzzles, battling monsters, applying strategy, and usually saving the world from evil catastophe.

By the way, all these games are on Nintendo Switch. And besides the games above that I plan to play in the future, there are more RPG options! For example, I already own Final Fantasy X-2 and Legrand Legacy: Tales of the Fatebounds; I can give those a try. And I’m also interested in Trails of Cold Steel III and Star Renegades.

So anyways, 2021 is looking promising, at least in virtual reality.

What are some things you are looking forward to in the new year? Let me hear it in the comments below!


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I Beat Final Fantasy X!

Hey blog friends, I’ve not posted lately because I’ve been focused elsewhere – perish the thought! True though. The whole Presidential election was kind of a distraction, go figure. But my gaze has really been offline and inside escapist role-playing games! And finally, I beat Final Fantasy X!


So back in the very beginning of September – technically the Summer! – I started playing Final Fantasy X for the first time ever, on Nintendo Switch. I averaged about an hour a night, skipping a few here and there.

In the end, about 2 months or 65 hours later, I “beat the game!” So I finished the main story; I didn’t 100% the game with all its extras. Maybe I would if I didn’t have a game backlog.

JRPG Game Hiview (Not Review)

What a game! Square-Enix, in their line of FF games, did not disappoint. I really don’t know where I’d rank number ten among its siblings. For comparison, I’ve played through four other games in the franchise: FFVI, VII, and most of VIII and IX.

Story

It was a little complex or convoluted – no surprise there. The game is very linear, the worldbuilding is nice, the settings are beautiful, the characters are very likeable and believable.

I thought it was a strange choice to have a story with such strong tones of religion, but I think that’s a nice break from ones all about politics. The main character, Tidus, I liked him a lot! He was such a breath of fresh air compared to the quirky, jaded, or sulky male protagonists of yore.

Gameplay

Fantastic battle system! It was a departure from the active time battle system of the past, being fully turned based. You could take your sweet time on your turn, think about your strategy, the best move, and execute.

I loved that you could finally swap out party members on the fly during battle and even swap out their weapons or armor too! There was more emphasis on status effects than previous games, if you ask me, and I loved this too. Even summoned monsters were more like playable characters.

Leveling system – it was cool, fresh. I liked the Sphere Grid used to level up party members because it gave a sense of control and direction. You had a choice in exactly what skills or traits your characters upgraded, unlike previous games. Yet there’s still something I like about the simplicity of stats automatically increasing at level-ups.

Graphics

This game is almost 20 years old, PS2 level graphics. But being the HD remaster, it looked great overall. I have not played many modern games, and I had just re-finished FFVII right before FFX, so there was a giant leap in stunning visual design. Loved it.

What I didn’t like, though: No overworld map! No free 360 camera control. Almost zero exploration. The trials (temple puzzles) were okay.

Music

Excellent scores and tracks for the most part. Nobuo Uematsu made great music again, but so did new-to-me artists too. I have several favorites I listen to on my phone now.

Overall

The game was a really great experience and challenge. I had to level-grind in some areas, especially at the end of the game. But I like grinding in a JRPG, I’m used to it. It makes me feel like I’m working towards a goal and earning my level-ups. The rewards are thus more enjoyed.

The cinematic presentation was top-notch, which was expected but no less appreciated!

Will I play FFX-2 or FFXII on Switch? What about FFXIII on PS3..? Maybe I’ll play FFX-2 since I already own it, but it’ll be a while.

I’m currently playing a new JRPG called Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. And I’ve got Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition lined up after that!

Till next time, have fun!


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