Apple announces premium subscription service Apple Arcade

By Joe Robinson 26 Mar 2019 3

Hot on the heels of all the fun-times of GDC, Apple seem keen to retake the initiative on mobile gaming, or at least, the conversation around mobile gaming. Last night they made a number of announcements at their “It’s Show Time” event at the Apple Park campus, the most relevant to us being Apple Arcade.

Apple Arcade is essentially a subscription service, ‘Netflix for mobile games’ if you want the catchy elevator pitch, although it’s equally as comparable with initiatives like PlayStation Plus/Now, or Humble Monthly. This is something that’s been hinted at for a while, and certainly Apple have been making noises about wanting to improve discoverability of games – even though apparently sites like ours aren’t needed anymore.

Essentially Apple Arcade will allow iOS, MacOS and Apple TV users can pay a subscription fee to get access to the entire library of games included in the Arcade, which will be over 100 at launch. We’ll post the full list that we know about below, but it includes games like Overland and the newly announced Beyond a Steel Sky, the former of which is one of our most anticipated mobile games of the year.

This isn’t great news for Android users, as they’ve already said that any game on Apple Arcade won’t be on any other mobile platforms, and they won’t be any other subscription service. We could probably still see PC/Console ports (or more likely, PC/Consoles games ported to iOS via Apple Arcade), but Android users could potentially lose out on a lot of promising premium titles after this program launches.

This is a strange one for me personally – as an Android-only mobile user, it sucks that I probably won’t be able to play great games like Overland now, unless they come to PC. But Pocket Tactic’s mission is to support premium mobile games, and those that play them, as much as we can… plus, there’s no ignoring that more of you game on iOS than you do Android.

While I doubt Apple Arcade will be some kind of messianic ‘saviour’ for premium games, I think it will offer a more comfortable route to market for many premium developers. There are countless things to worry about on the app store: discoverability, profitability, niche interests… Apple Arcade is likely to help with many of these, but then there’s plenty of proven cases of premium games doing fine without it so far. If a developer isn’t particularly bothered about making an Android port, I imagine that will help contextualise the benefits of Arcade. There are plenty of PT favourites that still don’t have Android versions, after all.

There are still several big questions that Apple will need to fill in some blanks for, however, namely:

  • How much will it cost?
  • How do the Devs get paid?
  • Can the Arcade Apps be purchased individually still via the app store?
  • How/Who is going to curate these apps?
  • Who will own these apps, and how will you access them once installed?

With regards to what games are coming TouchArcade already has a decent list online which we’ve reproduced below:

  • ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree
  • Beyond a Steel Sky
  • Box Project
  • Doomsday Vault
  • Down in Bermuda
  • Enter The Construct
  • Frogger in Toy Town
  • HitchHiker
  • Hot Lava
  • Kings of the Castle
  • Lega Arthouse, Cardpocalypse
  • LEGO Brawls
  • Lifelike
  • Little Orpheus
  • Monomals
  • Mr. Turtle
  • No Way Home
  • Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
  • Overland
  • Projection: First Light
  • Repair
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts
  • Sneaky Sasquatch
  • Sonic Racing
  • Spidersaurs
  • The Bradwell Conspiracy
  • The Pathless
  • UFO on Tape: First Contact
  • Where Cards Fall
  • Winding Worlds
  • Yaga

Apple Arcade is due to launch this Fall, so Imagine many of these questions will be answered before then.

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