Apple Arcade wants to put more premium games at the finger tips of mobile gamers than ever before. On Monday, the company introduced a new gaming subscription service as part of a showcase for its new subscription businesses.
For starters, Arcade doesn’t appear targeted at the types of consumers traditionally attracted to heavy console and PC gaming. Ann Thai, senior product marketing manager of the App Store, made it clear that Arcade was built with an iOS game developer in mind. To start, Apple Arcade will give mobile gamers access to more than 100 premium games while allowing game creators to crank out a constant stream of high-quality games without worrying so much about monetization.
Apple wants to leverage the popularity of its free games to put users on to paid games. Instead of requiring users to pay $20 for a single app, Apple Arcade will give iOS gamers a selection of premium games for a monthly fee. This way game developers can get their work in front of more people without sacrificing quality.
“Competing with free is hard,” said Thai. “We think we’ve come up with a great new way to bring these games to more people than ever before.”
The announcement of Apple Arcade comes only a week after Google revealed Stadia, its own gaming platform. But Apple made sure to distance itself from other gaming services in the market with a few key details.
Apple Arcade: Price
Apple didn’t offer any pricing details during its announcement beyond saying it will be a subscription service.
Current gaming pricing in the App Store also falls in a range between $2.99 to $60 for titles like Civilization VI. Other subscription gaming services like Sony’s PlayStation Now cost $20 per month, but those offer AAA titles, like God of War and The Last of US, which will not be available on Apple Arcade.
It’s tough to say exactly what the company will charge for Apple Arcade, but something in the ballpark of $20 per month wouldn’t be surprising. Apple also mentioned that it would offer a family plan at no additional cost, which might make the service slightly pricier overall.
Apple Arcade: Release Date and Next Update
The Cupertino-based company also withheld a release date, saying only that Arcade will launch in 150 regions by the fall. Expect more updates in the coming months.
In particular, the company could offer more details about its game subscription service during WWDC 2019 in June. The yearly developers conference typically focuses on coding tools and features for iOS, macOS, and its other operating systems. That could include information about how interested developers will be at creating games for the platform and more.
Apple Arcade: Compatible Devices
Apple Arcade will be compatible with most of Apple’s popular devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. Users will also be able to start playing a game on their smartphone and pick up where they left off on their Apple TV.
“It’s the world’s first games subscription services for mobile, desktop, and living room,” said Thai.
Instead of having to carry around a console or have a dedicated gaming device, Apple is attempting to make the tech you use on a daily basis a portable gaming network. At first blush, this might sound very similar to Google’s Stadia, which will let users game on Chrome browsers across multiple devices. But Apple Arcade has one distinct feature that could make it more appealing to mobile gamers…
Apple Arcade: Offline Mode
Apple Arcade’s big selling point is that it will come with an offline mode. This will enable users to play the games they download onto their Apple devices without an internet connection.
“Unlike streaming services, every game will be playable offline, so you can play anywhere regardless of your internet connection,” said Thai.
Stadia and other game streaming services, like PlayStation Now, require speedy connection even for single-player games. That’s because other game streaming services run their games on cloud servers and beam them to gamers over the internet.
Apple Arcade will require users to download games onto their devices to play, which takes up storage space but allows for offline gaming. Keep in mind that specific games that require internet connection, or are exclusively multiplayer, will not work in offline mode. This mode is geared toward solo-gaming.
Apple Arcade: Will There Be Any Hardware?
Apple did not announce any complementary hardware that will ship with the Apple Arcade in the fall. This suggests that all of the games offered will rely on either the touch screen interfaces found on iPhones and iPads or Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard and mouse combo used with Macs and the Apple TV. But the company could also introduce more ambitious controller options in the future.
A recent patent suggested the company is working on a future iPhone that could double as a console controller. The design is still a long way from being realized, as it describes a phone with a flexible display that wraps all the way around the device. But since developers are making games specifically for Apple, they could add the option to use an iPhone as a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard for Apple TV and Macs.
Apple Arcade: Privacy
Of course, Apple touted its gaming service’s focus on privacy as well, stating that the service will be ad-free and that games won’t collect any personal data without users’ consent.
That means that certain games will prompt users to read and agree to their terms and conditions. These agreements could, in theory, allow companies to collect information on users, like the email used for the Apple ID. It is unclear exactly what Apple will allow and won’t allow.
Apple Arcade: Available Games
Another massive difference between Apple Arcade and other streaming services will be its unique roster of more than 100 games that are exclusively created for Apple devices.
“You won’t find these games in another mobile platform,” explained Thai.
While Apple has partnered with well-known gaming companies, like Konami, none of the titles available to play will be on consoles or PC. Apple has essentially jump-started its own gaming platform which it hopes will win over gamers and developers alike.
Here’s a list of some of the titles that will be available on the service once it is released.
- Little Orpheus by Sumo Digital/The Chinese Room
- The Artful Escape by Annapurna Interactive/Beethoven & Dinosaur
- The Pathless by Annapurna Interactive/Giant Squid
- ATONE: Heart of the Elder Tree by Wildboy Studios
- LEGO Brawls by LEGO/RED Games
- Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm by Cornfox & Bros.
- Sonic Racing by SEGA®/HARDlight Studios
- Box Project by AQUIRIS
- Frogger in Toy Town by Konami
- Projection: First Light by Blowfish Studios/Shadowplay Studios
- Mr. Turtle by Illusion Labs
- FANTASIAN by Mistwalker Corporation
- Enter The Construct by Directive Games Limited
- Beyond a Steel Sky by Revolution Software
- Sayonara Wild Hearts by Annapurna Interactive/Simogo
- Hot Lava by Klei Entertainment
These are only the initial titles that Apple announced in its teaser video will be coming to Apple Arcade. Expect close to 80 to 90 more as Apple fills out its games roster.