Apple has long been exhorted to give mobile gaming its due importance. It has, in many ways done that over time—the chips that power the iPhone and the iPads are more powerful than anything else you will find in the mobile ecosystem, the Apple TV streamer as a gaming platform and the curations on the App Store by the editors, to name a few. In fact, the Apple App Store currently has over 300000 game titles available for download. But nothing has been quite like this—a game subscription service that will work across all your Apple devices. In fact, this is a first of its kind game subscription service for mobiles, desktops and televisions, the kind we had seen only on gaming consoles made by Sony and Microsoft all this while.
But what really is Arcade? The way we have played mobile games thus far, is that we downloaded each game from the App Store, and paid separately if we downloaded a paid game, or otherwise shelled out money for in-game purchases—something that is quite common these days. Arcade is a game subscription service which bundles more than 100 new and exclusive game titles in one subscription. Apple says more titles will be added to this, in time for the launch. Basically, the one subscription which you pay for Apple Arcade (we don’t know the cost just yet) will give you full access to all games which are a part of Arcade. You don’t need to pay extra for any game download. If a game has in-game purchases, all those will also be available to you at no extra cost. Apple has confirmed that there will be no in-game advertising too, for Arcade games.
Apple Arcade will be available as a new tab within the App Store.
What all game titles will work on this? Apple says that Arcade will feature over 100 new and exclusive games including original releases from renowned creators Hironobu Sakaguchi, Ken Wong, Will Wright and more. The Apple Arcade will also feature games from Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Cartoon Network, Finji, Giant Squid, Klei Entertainment, Konami, LEGO, Mistwalker Corporation, SEGA, Snowman and ustwo games. “Sonic Racing” from SEGA and “Hot Lava” by Klei Entertainment will be launching on Apple Arcade.
Apple says Arcade games don’t track your usage, gameplay or what titles you play more.
Does it compete with Google Stadia? In many ways, you could look at both as a single subscription for getting access to multiple game titles without having to pay separately for each, or bother with in-game purchases. However, the way both work is quite different. Apple will allow users to download the complete Arcade labelled games on their iPhone, iPad, macOS device of the Apple TV. This means you aren’t reliant on a high speed internet connection at all times, and you can play even when you may be offline. Secondly, Apple will sync your game progress across all devices, which means you can start off from the exact point on an iPad or Apple TV, from where you left off the game on your iPhone, for instance.
The big difference with Google Stadia is that it doesn’t allow you to download any games on the device, and instead would require an active high speed internet connection (upwards of 25Mbps, in most likelihood) to be able to do live game streaming.
In many ways, Apple Arcade is a reminder of the sort of game subscription services that Microsoft offers with the Xbox Live for the Xbox gaming consoles and Sony does with the PlayStation Now for the PlayStation consoles. Apple hasn’t announced the subscription cost just yet, but has confirmed that it will be rolling out later this year in 150 countries—this will include India as well.
We have to say that Arcade is a rather bold move for mobile gaming, which could perhaps be the last-chance saloon for premium games. Even Apple admitted in the keynote that not enough gamers are downloading premium games at a cost to pay up-front. Perhaps Arcade and its single subscription package could bring these premium games the traction they may have been lacking otherwise. But if Arcade doesn't catch on for whatever reason (we don't know how much it will cost, mind you), it really could spell the death knell for premium games. No pressure then, Apple Arcade.