This seems to have changed; there’s strong signs on iOS 7 that Apple is about to put more energy on Big Screen playing. As detailed by Techcrunch and AppleInsider, Apple is not only adding a new games specific SDK into iOS 7, as well as launching support for new game controllers that connect wirelessly to an iOS device.
The SDK makes sense in pure play on iOS device screen context, but the controllers strongly suggest Apple is making a bet that increasing amount of people will play multiplayer games on iOS, in play contexts where more than one person shares the same screen. And sharing a screen is hard on small screens, so this is clearly an Apple TV bet. The current Apple TV allows gaming where you stream your game onto a big screen and indeed games like Real Racing provide very smooth split screen play experience using this tech.
Having said that, almost no game takes advantage of this. There’s two reasons this is happening. Firstly, the API to stream a second screen to the TV is confusing at best and there’s no API to setup the screen in app, vs user having to setup the streaming using semi-hidden iOS menus. Second, Apple is not promoting this type of play scenario anywhere, so there’s no bandwagon to jump on for developers, so most devs just won’t bother.
Now, my prediction here is, Apple will update the Apple TV set top box and/or release a TV set in fall of 2013 that runs a version of iOS 7, and are betting game developers will want to develop games for the platform. They’re releasing the SDK now to make developers familiar with it and to get some developers make reference games for the upcoming platform. If I was a betting man, I’d get my hands on one of these controllers and create a game that works beautifully with the streaming scenario on current Apple TV, assuming I’m porting it to a new box very soon.