updated 08:10 am EST, Thu February 10, 2011
iOS 4.3 makes gaming references
New code unearthed in iOS 4.3 beta 3 may have shown the first signs of gaming for the Apple TV. Several references exist to "ATVGames" that imply some sort of interactive play. The Engadget tip caught mentions of scheduling, sorting by date and standings, implying a Game Center style ranking.
The code also mentions "ATVThunder," but this could be a reference to video as much as gaming; it includes mentions of "archive" and "live" that could reference a real-time event as well as traditional on-demand content.
Two unusual codenames, Sedona and Flagstaff, exist that are references to video, but whether they're new or existing isn't evident. Sedona references video metadata such as the director or episode and could be as much as streaming TV or as little as existing services. Flagstaff has few details beyond being attached to iTunes purchasing.
Some mentions aren't new. "Feature_remote_screensavers" is most likely just a reference to existing support for screensavers from Flickr, MobileMe and other photo services. Likewise, it's been possible for awhile to have iPhone-style resorting of favorites.
Any gaming on the Apple TV as-is would be basic. The hub uses the same essential A4 chip as in the iPad and iPhone, but the existing remote would have very limited utility and might only apply to trivia and other basic games. An iOS app also wouldn't work since Wi-Fi would induce significant lag for action games and anything else sensitive to timing. The beta code may not be used for any gaming at all, but if it did it might need more dedicated peripherals.
Apple TV devices already have to stream content on-demand, but they don't yet have the option of direct Internet streaming that isn't a rental. Rumors persist that Apple's North Carolina data center might be used for full cloud services but haven't been corroborated by anything tangible.