This week, Apple finally provided us with some information regarding their venture into gaming subscription services, Apple Arcade.
Much like Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass which is gaining some steam both for the Xbox One and PC, Apple Arcade is a subscription-based service that sets itself up to be a library of video games where you’ll be able to download and play whatever game the service offers.
Apple Arcade is set to launch on September 19 for a monthly fee of $4.99, and Apple claims that the service will boast a library of over 100 games this fall that’ll all be playable across Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, and Apple TV devices. This isn’t a completely mobile experience though, as players who have them will also be able to use their PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers to play compatible games.
Among the games featured in Apple’s presser this week were Where Cards Fall from Snowman, The Pathless from Annapurna Interactive, LEGO Brawls, Hot Lava by Klei Entertainment, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm by Cornfox & Bros., Beyond a Steel Sky by Revolution Software, and over 40 others shown in a sizzle reel. Konami and Capcom were even on stage to show off a modern Frogger game and Shinsekai: Into the Depths—a Metroidvania kind of game that takes place under the sea.
In addition to having these games available in their library, Apple will also be contributing to the development costs for various projects, giving game makers a real shot at success with their games as long as they remain exclusive to the service.
But does all this really matter to gamers? It all depends on who you talk to.
On the surface, with all the money and resources that Apple has invested in gaming, of course it matters. This is Apple. They have the capital to buy out major developers and publishers. That said, in their current form, they definitely won’t be taking anything away from Sony or Microsoft — the fact that they’re allowing gamers to use their PS4 and Xbox One controllers says as much.
Is it a punch in the mouth to the Android makers at Google with Google Stadia? I wouldn’t say that either. The main reason being the fact that Stadia is priding itself on being a streaming service. It’s impressive technology, but there’s a lot to prefer about a service that allows you to actually download and install a game to play it.
So who is Apple Arcade actually for? I’d say they’re for people already entrenched in Apple’s ecosystem. Again, games on Apple Arcade will be made playable through their family of iOS devices as well as their Mac and Apple TV products.
I’m one of those people. I have an iPhone, an iPad, two MacBooks (a personal MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro from work) and an Apple TV (though it’s an old one). I’ve thought about switching to Android countless times, but the reason why I haven’t is because of how intuitively each device works with one another. Apple technology such as AirPlay, AirDrop, iMessage, iCal, and all sorts of other things make things ridiculously easy, and Apple Arcade could easily be a part of that—especially at only $5 a month.
I have plenty of subscriptions. On top of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, I subscribe to PlayStation Plus, Nintendo Switch Online, YouTube TV, Spotify (which also pays for Hulu), and I got suckered into three years of Disney+, so as long as I see value in it, I’ll pay for it.
But for some reason, Apple Arcade leaves me wary.
I’ve been writing about and providing commentary on games for the better part of 15 years, so I definitely do consider myself a serious gamer. At the same time, my day job is as a community manager for a mobile games company, so there are some more casual experiences I’ll get myself into—heck, I’m often the main person that’ll review casual games for SmashPad.
Right now, while I do think a lot of the games featured for the Apple Arcade launch do look interesting, nothing exactly speaks to me. If anything does catch my eye, it’s an indie project. I’m very high on indies, as that’s what makes up the bulk of my Steam and Nintendo Switch library, but that therein lies the problem.
Most of my usage of Apple Arcade will be while I’m on the go, and when I’m traveling, my main video game machine and or service of choice is the Switch. With the Switch, I don’t always need to bring a controller with me because they’re already attached. You just don’t get the same experience playing on a phone or tablet, and when I do play with a phone or tablet, I prefer games tailored toward the mobile experience, and as awesome as the new Frogger game looks, it looks like a game I’ll have more fun playing on the Switch.
All that said, it’s still early and none of us really gave it a shot, but the cool thing about the launch of Apple Arcade is that the first month will be free. I’ll definitely be so someone trying it out, and if there’s anything to report on, I’ll write about it here, or at the very least I’ll talk about it on a future edition of the Day 0 Update.