Apple first unveiled its plans for a game subscription service, giving players unlimited access to a catalogue of mobile games back in March. A few keynotes and studio partnership reveals later, Apple Arcade has officially launched on iPhone, alongside the iOS 13 update today.
Apple Arcade, the tech giant’s gaming subscription joins the ranks alongside Xbox Game Pass and Ubisoft’s Uplay+. However, it is the first of its kind on mobile. In an effort to showcase a series of higher-end experiences for the iOS ecosystem, Apple has been hard at work with building an accessible and engaging list of games of all genres. Apple’s take on the “Netflix-of-games” model is an ambitious move in the mobile space. Anyone who has ventured into the App Store has undoubtedly been staggered by the overwhelming amount of games available. Apple’s brand new platform seeks to remedy the situation. Apple Arcade is offered at very appealing $5.99 CAD/month and will give subscribers unlimited access to 100+ game titles, all curated by Apple themselves. This is a more digestible approach for the user. Instead of having to filter through navigation windows and drawn-out lists, Apple Arcade offers a more condensed catalogue, all stamped with a “seal of approval” of sorts.
During the September 10th Apple Event, Konami came to the stage to present a small gameplay demo of Frogger in Toy Town. A new installment in the Frogger franchise may not be lighting everyone’s fire, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. Annapurna came on stage to reveal Sayonara Wild Hearts, while Capcom announced Shinsekai: Into the Depths, a robust action-adventure game. This small taster helped provide some context as the countdown to Apple Arcade continued. Now, with Apple Arcade is in the wild, we’re able to get a much bigger picture regarding the breadth of content behind the platform.
As of launch, Apple Arcade is sporting more than 60 games with many more coming down the pipeline. Apple Arcade is working under the condition that once a game launches, it will remain on the platform. There is no rotating catalogue or notion that your favourite game may be pulled off as long as there is an active user base. Constructing a lineup of mobile-exclusive games is imperative to the platform. Although Apple Arcade titles may surface on Steam and console, you won’t find them on Android or other game subscription services.
In addition, you’ll be able to access your saves and data across all your Apple devices later this year. For instance, you’ll be able to begin playing a game on your iPhone on your commute home and once you’re through your door, pick up where you left off on your Apple TV or Mac. Using a combination of iCloud and Game Center, your progression will be tied to the subscription––so using a device tied to your Apple Arcade sub will allow you to carry your progress.
Another feature included in Apple Arcade is the convenience of downloading the game on WiFi and being able to continue playing without a constant internet connection. It’ll be up to the user to determine when and how they wish to use their mobile data. If you’re hard-pressed and working off 1GB a month, there will be plenty of singleplayer options for you to download and play offline during your commutes. Those 10GB data package owners will be able to find many multiplayer-centric games to their heart’s content.
Apple Arcade’s $5.99 CAD/ month launching price is quite appealing and provides quite a bit of value. Users can set up Family Sharing, enabling up to six users to gain access to Apple Arcade on one single subscription. As it is likely that families will be looking at Apple Arcade to provide boundless entertainment for kids, Apple Arcade will continue using its established rating system. Apple Arcade will also utilize Screen Time and parental controls to allow parents to monitor their child’s usage. Digital privacy has also been a point of contention when it comes to mobile games. Apple has been working closely with the game developers to determine best practises of when and how user data may be accessible.
Apple Arcade will be void of any ads or additional purchases. Once you sign up and subscribe, you’re done. In a time and place where loot boxes and microtransactions are abundant, Apple has a firm stance on not allowing game littered with additional in-game purchases on the platform. Games with their own in-game currency will still be featured. For example, Snowman’s Skate City incorporates cosmetic items that can be purchased only by earning in-game currency. The caveat is that at no point does the game require you to reach into your wallet. Instead of a baked-in marketplace, you’ll have to complete challenges in order to earn rewards and purchase cosmetic items.
Aside from the quality of life perks the platform offers, Apple Arcade will allow users to play their games with additional hardware when applicable. Earlier this year, Apple announced that Xbox One controller and DualShock 4 support has been enabled on their devices via Bluetooth. Having the tactile control option when playing your games––especially on Apple TV––is a great step towards speaking to the hardcore gaming audience. While not every game will have controller support, those that do will be playable on the hardware you may already have. Otherwise, you’ll be able to navigate using the touch functionality or in the case of Apple TV, the remote.
The jury is still out if Apple struck gold with their new streaming system. Based on what I’ve seen and the games I’ve had a chance to get hands-on time with, it’s clear that Apple is out to provide content for both the everyday user and a more hardcore audience. I believe Apple Arcade has the best bang for your buck when it comes to playing your games on mobile devices. Having the ability to carry your progress with you to the Apple TV and Mac is a substantial bonus. At the end of the day, the games will do all of the talking. Apple has begun to take the appropriate steps to establish partnerships between studios such as Capcom, Annapurna, Devolver Digital, and Lightning Rod Games. These partnerships will do wonders to draw in an audience and will help the platform reach player expectations.
You can try Apple Aracade right now with a one-month free trial.