5 Things You Should Know Before Developing CTV Gamesby@oleksandrkovalchuk
336 reads
336 reads

5 Things You Should Know Before Developing CTV Games

by Oleksandr KovalchukJuly 26th, 2022
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story w/o Javascript
tldt arrow

Too Long; Didn't Read

More and more games are becoming available on connected TV devices. CTV is not limited only by videos on demand, it also has lots to offer for gaming fans and developers. So, what should CTV developers take into account when they are creating a new game? Let’s consider 5 main steps to take to develop a game on CTV: Decide on the platform, decide what suits you the most, and figure out what skills you need to have and strengthen to make your new game see the world.

People Mentioned

Mention Thumbnail

Companies Mentioned

Mention Thumbnail
Mention Thumbnail
featured image - 5 Things You Should Know Before Developing CTV Games
Oleksandr Kovalchuk HackerNoon profile picture

It is well known that the CTV industry has continued to show positive annual growth over the years. The number of cord-cutters switching to OTT services and mainly using connected devices to watch Smart TV offerings will exceed 140 million users in the US in 2022.

However, CTV is not only limited to videos on demand. You can also choose from an array of options for gaming fans and developers. More and more games are becoming available on connected TV devices, and though the market is growing by leaps and bounds, there is still a ton of space for developers who strive for innovation and popularity in the gaming world.

So, what should CTV developers be looking for when they are creating a new game? Let’s consider 5 crucial steps to take.

Decide on the platform

CTV game development differs from mobile app development. However, some platforms use similar principles. Before you decide on a certain platform, you should learn its specifics and decide what suits you the most.  From there you can figure out which skills you need to have to help get your new game out to the world.

- Apple TV

Games for Apple TV are being developed in the same way as other iOS apps. There is no SDK, which can make the development process harder for newbies, but more experienced engineers can create games without obstacles. The main languages used in CTV games for Apple TV are Objective-C and Swift. The Unity platform can also be used for development. Its interface will be easy to work with even for those who are new to iOS app creation.

- Google TV

If you decide to develop games for Google TV, you will notice a similar process as Apple TV - Android app developers will find it easy to adapt to, as the same stack is used for all app creation. The languages used for development include Kotlin and Java.

Moreover, unlike Apple TV, Android offers many SDKs that help in terms of app installation and run-time optimization. Also, apps developed for Android TV have the same structure as those created for mobile devices, so it is possible to adapt games for connected devices.

- Amazon Fire TV

Built on Android technology, Amazon Fire TV allows developers to use many of the same tools that Android offers: Java, Javascript, APIs, and IDEs, as well as the Fire App Builder. Amazon Fire TV makes it easy for new developers to create games with lots of tools and options available. 

- Roku

Roku’s App Store has 30,466 apps (compared to 21,011 apps in 2021) to offer and more than 8,000 app publishers (compared to 5,938 in 2021) have added their apps to it. This makes Roku one of the most demanded CTV platforms in the world. At the moment, game apps take up only 2% of all apps, and there are 355 of them (compared to 273 in 2021). However, games are in second place in the most-used-apps rating. The most popular games on Roku include arcades, puzzles, board, and social casino games. The latter genre has grown from 33 to 51 apps by 2022. 

Roku is something quite different from the other platforms mentioned above. To develop games for Roku, you can not use any popular programming languages as it has its own exclusive language - BrightScript.

However, BrightScript has some similarities to Javascript and Python, and developers who know how to code in those languages will have an easier time creating games. It may seem that Roku’s specificity, particularly the necessity to use new tools and approaches as well as an exclusive coding language, may make it harder to master. On the other hand, this platform offers more opportunities for creating something truly innovative. 

Choose the genre

It’s not just about your preference or trends. The genre you choose will predetermine how your game will run on different platforms and whether users will be able to use the existing remote to play them. It depends on hardware and software issues which we are going to describe further.

As a rule, games of the hyper-casual genre, such as arcades, puzzles, and casinos, are the most popular and easy-to-play on CTV. However, there is always space for experimentation and new ideas. You just need to think about how they will be implemented, considering existing technical specs.

So, the main question to consider is the following: are you going to give users simplicity and comfort? or do you want to make them leave their comfort zones and try something new? 

Mind hardware and software peculiarities

In order for the game you develop to run- even on platforms with the lowest capabilities, major CTV platforms have introduced certain limitations. For instance, if you create a game for Roku, you should keep in mind that it has only 2 GB of RAM – which is less than Apple TV but more than Fire TV, so Roku is among the most powerful OTT devices. So, when you are about to create a CTV game, keep in mind the actual physical properties of the devices your games will run on, and try to do your best to create an app that will run on all major platforms without sacrificing quality.

Apart from that, every platform has its own programming specifications, which touch upon the language the games are written in. As we have already mentioned, Roku requires developers to know BrightScript - a unique language used only by this platform. It has a rather small community, but its similarity to JavaScript allows for the involvement of JS frontend developers in game creation.

Don’t forget about controllers

CTV devices are mainly created for TV consumption, and usually don’t require specialized input hardware, such as a gamepad or a controller. Developers should take this nuance into account, as it will determine whether users will be able to play a new game or not.

For instance, Apple TV and Google TV do not provide controllers for playing games, and only Roku Ultra provides remotes that fit many games and can even be individually customized, e.g. a user can adjust buttons for different actions of gameplay. With that in mind, developers should try to make games as simple to play and navigate as possible. Moreover, it is important to test games on different platforms before their official launch. 

Still, the general lack of controllers for CTV games provides another way for developers to stand out, by innovating and creating games that can be played either with no specific controller or adapted to existing gameplay schemes.  

Engage the audience

This point concerns advertising issues. Starting from development, you need to keep in mind how you are going to attract an audience to your game. It is not that easy to make predictions, but every platform provides opportunities in terms of CTV advertising; offering you the ability to leverage their own advertising platforms (except Apple). But there are also some nuances. For instance, Roku provides a streaming ad platform and displays ads for US, UK, and Canada audiences only. 


Developers who have experience in app creation can make a significant contribution to the ever-growing industry of CTV gaming. Developers willing to work within the specifics of CTV platforms, and take the chance to experiment and innovate will have a greater chance of making a successful game. Keeping the steps we’ve described above in mind will help developers get started, and help to use their potential to the fullest.