Ohio-Based Entrepreneur’s SketchParty TV Shows AirPlay’s Gaming Power, But The Tech Needs A Spotlight

Posted: May 14, 2013 in Apps, Gaming, GT
Tags: , , ,

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SketchParty TV is a game that essentially allows a
group of people to play a version of Draw Something
on a big screen in a party setting, usually with
between four and six players. The AirPlay component
works by allowing AirPlay Mirroring to turn your Apple
TV-connected television or display into the easel for the game. A player gets the word they’re supposed to
draw on their iPhone or iPad, and as they draw on the
screen, that image appears (without the clue words)
on the TV, allowing others to join in and guess. The app earned high praise from tech bloggers
including Federico Viticci and Jim Dalrymple of the
Loop nearer to its original launch back in July last
year, but overall the response from the general public
has been more muted. SketchParty TV’s Braun
explained in an interview that to date, SketchParty TV has seen only around 5,000 total downloads, which he
says still has probably put the game in front of
between 20,000 and 30,000 people, given that it’s
meant to be used in a group setting. Those “aren’t breathtaking numbers,” admits Braun,
but the reviews have been positive and this seems to
be more an issue of consumer education and getting
the feature out there than any limitation of the AirPlay
tech itself, Braun suggests. “Apple has a lot of technology in their platform to
encourage developers to support, and AirPlay
Mirroring is a smaller piece of the equation than
something like, say, iCloud,” he explained. “There’s
also a consumer education component involved –
right now it seems to be up to the savvy to disseminate the wonders of AirPlay to their friends by
word of mouth. Or by showing off games like
SketchParty TV.” Others like Real Racing have embraced the two-
screen Mirroring experience, but even the support of a
major publisher like EA hasn’t pushed it into the
spotlight, and Apple isn’t exactly crowing about the
feature either. They advertised that AirPlay Mirroring
made it possible to see the same thing on your TV as you’re watching on the iPhone or iPad, but there’s
been no formal campaign to promote the fact that
gamers can get a true, Wii U style dual-screen
gaming experience from current apps with the tools
available now. “It’s been surprising to me that there are many people
who have an Apple TV and an iOS device and are
aware of the ability to send a video stream over
AirPlay, or mirror the device display, but not of the
ability to do second-screen to the television and show
different content on each,” Braun said about the conspicuous absence of hype around the feature.
“Personally, I’d love for Apple to give more love to the
Apple TV – whether that means improvements to the
current offering or some bold new direction like an
actual HDTV set.” Rumors still prevail that Apple is planning its own
HDTV set, despite the fact that this has been
rumored for years now. But if it does come true, that
would provide a big reason for Apple to push more of
its features. The other big question mark that remains
centers around whether Apple might just open the Apple TV platform to third-party apps, which might
minimize, though not eliminate, the benefits of having
an AirPlay-connected game. Braun says that the addressable market is large for
this type of experience, ranging between 10 to 12
million by his calculations, and with plenty of growth
potential thanks to the more than 300 million strong
iOS user pool. It’s a bigger potential market than that
represented by the current combined sales of all major home gaming consoles, in fact, with the
provision that Apple needs to blanket more of those
with the AirPlay component. One way or another,
that’s a market that won’t go ignored for long.

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