5 Of The Best Apple TV Games To Play In 2023

When thinking of today's generation of video game consoles, you'll likely first conjure up thoughts of the PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, or Xbox Series X. But there's one console many people already own yet may not fully appreciate: the Apple TV. People typically buy an Apple TV because they want a streaming device for their televisions, and aren't thinking about it as a gaming device. But the Apple TV, through Apple's App Store, offers thousands of games you can quickly download and start playing from your couch. You can even play most games with an Xbox, PlayStation, or other game controller.

Most of these games are also available on your iPhone or iPad, and they're limited by the Apple TV's specs in a way Xbox or PS5 games aren't, so they'll usually be smaller in scale and design. But unlike playing on your iPhone, your Apple TV allows gaming to be a communal experience, whether you're passing the controller back and forth or playing a party game that has your whole family competing against each other simultaneously. Some games even offer local co-op and competitive multiplayer.

You don't need Apple Arcade to play games on your Apple TV, because you can download them straight from the App Store, but Apple Arcade does remove ads and some games are Arcade exclusive. You can also resume games you've started on your iPhone or iPad, or vice versa. Though there are many to choose from, some games are more fun to play on a TV than others.

'Zen Pinball Party'

Downloading "Zen Pinball Party" by ZEN Studios is like adding an arcade's worth of pinball tables to your home. The pinball tables may be on your TV screen, but the high-quality graphics and faithful recreation of pinball sounds and physics make the experience surprisingly similar to playing with a physical table. Even if you weren't a pinball fanatic before playing "Zen Pinball Party," you likely will be after.

In addition to looking great on your television, "Zen Pinball Party" is a great Apple TV game because your friends and family can pass the controller and take turns competing with each other for the highest score. It'll be a while before you get bored of the gameplay because there are 21 tables to choose from, including "Star Wars" themed sets that include iconic music and sound effects. You can also play solo and compete for high scores with the game's online community, as well as participate in events and tournaments. Just be wary of being upsold on more and more additional tables, because the cost can add up!

'Cat Quest II'

Some of the best mobile games are role-playing games that can draw you in and eat up hours of your life, and "Cat Quest II," an action RPG from The Gentlebros, is no exception. The graphics are endearingly cute; the game revolves around two characters, a dog king and a cat king, trying to reclaim their thrones in an adorable fantasy world. You can play by yourself while the AI controls the other character, or two players can sit in front of the TV together and play as each animal king.

In addition to fun graphics and gameplay, there are plenty of sidequests for you and your teammate to pass the time completing. One downside is that you'll need Apple Arcade to play "Cat Quest II" on your Apple TV (or iOS device), so you won't find it in the typical App Store if you're not an Apple Arcade subscriber.

'Alto's Odyssey'

Endless runners, or platform games where the player continuously moves across the screen (usually up or down or from left to right) while avoiding obstacles, are typically more suited for phones and tablets and have become a staple genre for those platforms, because of their relative simplicity. But simplicity can also be a virtue for games played on the Apple TV, especially when you're looking for a mindless, relaxing way to pass the time. "Alto's Odyssey," the sequel to Snowman's hit game "Alto's Adventure," is perhaps the best runner to play on Apple TV because of its gorgeous, meticulously designed graphics. 

With a day/night cycle and stunning backdrops, the player sandboards across the screen, performing tricks for extra points. There's even a Zen Mode that won't stop the game if you hit an obstacle, so you can just coast carefree and lose yourself to the game. "Alto's Odyssey," like most runners, is single-player only, so while it's an enjoyable, beautiful game to look at, it's not the best if you're looking to game with friends.

'Tetris Beat'

If you're a gamer, even a casual one, there's a good chance you've at some point played "Tetris" in one of its many iterations. The iconic gameplay, which involves lining up four-squared blocks of various shapes, suits itself especially well to handheld devices. But "Tetris Beat", by N3TWORK Inc., is a perfect game for the Apple TV thanks in part to its side-by-side multiplayer mode that two people can play together while on the sofa.

It's also a livelier version of the game that incorporates music and rhythm mechanics into the gameplay. Players not only drop and align tetrominoes as in normal "Tetris," but must do so to the beat of the music, a neat innovation that not only makes the game feel new and different but is extremely fun to perform. There are several great tracks and cool visuals to go along with them, making it an exciting way to play a classic game. "Tetris Beat" is a lot of fun and a great take on the original game, but it's a shame Apple TV doesn't offer an even better iteration, the audiovisual masterpiece "Tetris Effect."

'The Jackbox Party Pack 3'

The "Jackbox Party Pack" by Jackbox Games titles are an innovative set of party games that use phones as controllers. Turn a "Jackbox" game on your Apple TV and pretty much anyone in the room can play along, especially since many games allow up to eight players. There's been nine "Party Packs" released since 2014, each one containing five various word, drawing, trivia, and other lighthearted party games that have their own unique, quirky aesthetics. Some are more fun than others, while a handful are incredibly addicting and can be played for hours, like "Drawful" and "Bomb Corp." 

No one pack has a perfect lineup of games, so you'll probably want to purchase a few to have a wider assortment of your favorite titles. However, if you only go with one, "Jackbox Party Pack 3" is a solid choice. It includes "Quiplash 2," "Tee K.O.," and "Trivia Murder Party," a horror-themed trivia game. You and your friends can gather around your Apple TV and have a blast with just these games alone, but everyone will need their own mobile device to play. Because battery life can drain quickly, you'll probably have to keep several chargers on hand, and anyone without a phone could potentially be left out of the fun.