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It’s time to stop craning your neck over your iPad or iPhone and use mirroring to enjoy iOS games on your Apple TV instead.
Whether you’re sick of peering at a tiny screen or simply want to enjoy some proper multiplayer games with a room full of friends, your Apple TV is your ticket to big screen fun!
The Apple TV as a Games Console
Astonishing as it may seem, your Apple TV is more than just a way to watch Netflix. It takes its role as media streamer extremely seriously, enabling you to stream not just music, video and photos, but games as well.
To set this up, you’ll need an iPad or iPhone – or an iPod Touch – and a Wi-Fi network preferably configured to use the 802.11n band, which runs at 5GHz (Ethernet is also fine, depending upon which you prefer). For mirroring games, you should also have a suitable controller, an MFI (Made for iPhone) device like those produced by MOGA, although other methods enable you to connect game controllers to your iPhone (and not all games necessarily require a controller).
You’ll also need some suitable games, which we’ll look at below. First, let’s set it up.
Setting Up Apple TV for Mirroring Games
Begin by checking your router or AirPort to confirm that the 5GHz option is set. Depending on your router, the steps required to do this will differ depending upon the manufacturer. If you’re using an Apple Mac, open AirPort Utility and select the device icon, then click Edit. Next, open the Wireless tab, look for Wireless Options and confirm a check is in the box next to 5GHz network name.
Next, switch to your Apple TV. In the main menu, scroll down to Network to confirm that the media streamer is connected to the correct wireless network, and then confirm that your iOS device is also correctly connected. If you use Ethernet with your Apple TV, there’s no need to change this.
With everything connected to your 5GHz wireless network, you’ll be ready to start playing.
Note: While 5GHz is perfect for mirroring, it isn’t strictly required and you may have joy with a regular old 2.4GHz network. If your router doesn’t support the faster band, don’t worry, just skip the step above, and make sure your Apple TV and iOS device are connected to the same network.
AirPlay & Mirroring Games
To display the game you’re playing on your iPad or iPhone on an Apple TV, you’ll need to enable AirPlay. If you’ve already streamed the contents of an iPad media app to your TV through Apple TV (perhaps overcoming any related Apple TV streaming issues), then you’re probably already aware of this.
If not, use the Apple TV remote to navigate to the Settings > AirPlay, and from here, set AirPlay to On.
You’re now ready to start playing. Two types of AirPlay-compatible games are available for iOS. First, those with AirPlay support, which will create a Nintendo WiiU style dual display, showing the game on the TV and other useful information on the lower screen and using your iPhone or iPad as a game controller.
If the game you’re playing doesn’t offer this, don’t worry. Almost all other games can be streamed through Apple TV to your television using AirPlay Mirroring. Both methods are similar, but you’ll probably need a game controller for AirPlay Mirroring.
Start the game as usual, and when it is running, open the Control Center (slide up from the bottom of the screen) and tap on AirPlay. Next, tap Apple TV and Done to complete. This will setup the dual-screen AirPlay streaming of Apple TV.
For games without dual screen functionality, after tapping the Apple TV button, flick the Mirroring slider to on, then Done.
Great Games You Can Play on Apple TV
The best games you’ll be able to find for playing through your Apple TV are those with AirPlay integration. Such games include MetalStorm: Online, N.O.V.A 3, Infinity Blade 3 [No Longer Available] and Rage HD.
Sky Gamblers: Rise of Glory is also particularly good, but you’ll no doubt find many others. One of the big advantages of playing games like this is the party atmosphere that is generated when players gather, so you might find yourself passing the iPad around your mates as you try to assassinate your rivals with a Holy Hand Grenade in Worms 3.
If you’re into pass and play games then Small World 2, Monopoly [No longer available] and Scrabble are all great options, and if you’re a fan of single player action adventure the remastered Grand Theft Auto games (GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas) on the big screen provide an unmissable experience.
For mirroring, the choice is really as wide as the library of games. Some will mirror better than others, and almost all will benefit from a controller. One that won’t, however, is Contradiction [No longer available] which we featured in our look at interactive movies in 2014. The cinematic quality of the game makes it perfect for viewing the storyline segments on a big screen TV and playing along with family or friends.
Arcade games are likely to suffer from a form of lag on 2.4 GHz wireless networks, but if you have a 5 Ghz wireless setup then this shouldn’t be a problem. Lag — the differential between interacting with a game and the action appearing on screen — can prove frustrating for many players. While it is possible to modify how you play, this might not be ideal for group gaming scenarios.
Remember, if you have a subscription to Apple Arcade, Apple’s video game service, you have access to several more games and can play them all on your Apple TV. And these top Apple Arcade games are a good place to begin.
Image Credits: tablet computer via Shutterstock