Monday, March 25, 2019

Apple Arcade

Tim Hardwick (Hacker News):

Apple today announced Apple Arcade, a new subscription-based games service for mobile, desktop, and the living room, featuring hundreds of titles from top video game publishing houses including Disney, Sega, Lego, Cartoon Network, and Konami.


All Apple Arcade games will be all-you-can-play experiences, with all features, content, and updates included at no extra charge, and with no ads or in-app purchases necessary.

Christine Chan:

There are a ton of game development studios that are working with Apple on Apple Arcade titles. Here are some of the partners that we know of so far[…]


Apple is not just handpicking the games in Apple Arcade, but also contributing to the development costs and working closely with creators to bring the games to life.

Mark Gurman:

The company would collect these monthly fees, then divide up the revenue between developers based on how much time users spend playing their games, one of the people said.


Not only is paying devs by how long users play games TERRIBLE for developers, it also grants extreme financial incentive for devs to make their games as predatory as possible, so it’s hazardous for users, too!

David Barnard:

Well, Apple seems to have taken a pretty big step in the right direction today. Manipulative free-to-play games will still thrive on their platform, but it was nice to hear Apple trash them on stage and invest in an alternative.

Jeremy Horwitz:

Apple Arcade promises that players can jump between iOS, tvOS, and macOS devices. Very few games right now support all three of these platforms. But that could change at WWDC thanks to Marzipan cross-platform development as revealed by @markgurman.

Update (2019-03-25): Darshan Shankar:

Today’s launch of Apple Arcade is interesting context for Apple’s behavior last year:

Apple removed Steam Link from the iOS App Store last year. Didn’t want Valve streaming PC games to iOS.

A monopoly is further establishing dominance and shutting out any other marketplace

Leif Johnson:

PS4 Remote Play isn’t all that functionally different from Valve’s Steam Link app, which Apple shot down last May merely a day after Valve announced its upcoming release. Both apps are owned by publishers other than Apple. Both stream games from another device to your iPhone over Wi-Fi connections. Both apps let you buy games through the app-maker’s own store without paying any commission to Apple. They’re so similar, in fact, that I’ve spent much of the last few days scanning my news feed for word that Apple had decided to pull the plug on Remote Play as well.

Previously: Valve’s Steam Link App Rejected From the App Store.

Update (2019-03-26): McCloud:

Another problem - Apple’s doesn’t have gaming DNA. Sony for example uses games to sell hardware and services, but in Sony’s case they make masterpieces like God of War and Uncharted - Apple would be metric-driven, so they’d consider lots of hours played == good games.

Benjamin Mayo:

The game service segment in particular felt like a ten minute chunk that they had pulled straight out of the WWDC slide deck. Announcing that so far in advance that they can’t announce pricing is weak.

Drunken Dogcow:

I also find the assumption that this will be better than the freemium crapfest unconvincing, since the payment model of this service will cause developers to optimize for maximum screen time instead of good gameplay.

Update (2019-03-27): Pierre Lebeaupin:

Re: Apple arcade, one worry is that Apple will have a monopoly on iOS on this kind of service; with video or music Netflix and Spotify have an uneven competition field, but it is at least possible to compete with Apple.

Second, while I will look for games that interest me there, Apple Arcade sounds like a sort of PR display for Apple: “Look over there, this shows iOS isn’t just a haven for just-shy-of-gambling manipulative games”. This isn’t what I need.

What I need is for the iOS App Store to structurally encourage games that allow their developers to earn a living without them having to prey on their users, games like And not just from developers Apple directly funded. Apple cannot be everywhere.

However, I am not worried about the incentives that gives developers: since when are non-gambling addictive games a problem? I am more worried about the fact I won’t really own any of these games. And what about digital preservation?

David Heinemeier Hansson:

There’s something ironic about the fact that Apple Arcade is primarily a solution to a problem Apple created themselves: Allowing games to be utterly ruined by in-app purchases and trashy ads. Carrying both the poison and the cure in the same store is some serious chutzpah 😄

Update (2019-04-02): Peter Cohen:

I’ve been writing about Mac games on and off for 25 years, and I can’t think of a single announcement from Apple that has intrigued me as much as Apple Arcade. It could be a real game changer, or it could be a total disaster.


Games for these devices will all continue to be available independently of Apple Arcade, and the game markets for Mac, iPhone and Apple TV will continue to evolve at their pace. I don’t anticipate that Apple Arcade will be disruptive, but it’s an ambitious and exciting experiment. I hope it succeeds.

Update (2019-04-16): Tim Bradshaw (via Benjamin Mayo):

Apple is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to secure new video games for its forthcoming Arcade subscription service, according to several people familiar with the deals.

Patrick Balestra:

So I guess that’s where part of the 30% cut they take from App Store revenue goes? Work hard on your apps and games to help fund your future competitors 🙃

Update (2019-04-17): Damien Petrilli:

Apple using $500 millions to bring games to their platform shows in some ways that:

- it isn’t viable economically


- it’s too specific (ex: dying opengl, no Vulkan) so expensive to port to.

You wouldn’t need any incentive if your platforms were healthy.

Update (2019-05-17): Dominik Wagner:

Arcade – essentially an attempt to pull all games outside that casual, slot-machine-style genre into their own Netflix-style curated subscription service. There are multiple reasons why I think that is a bad idea, to name a few[…]


Lastly, I do think it is worth calling out the two major games they put on stage on the last two iOS Keynotes. I do see them as further evidence how arbitrary and undecided their direction in the games sector is.

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

A lot of companies do a stripped down / mobile version, separate matchmaking, separate controls, etc.

This initiative wants devs to target iOS (or maybe tvOS) as the common factor and rely on Marzipan for Mac support?

It's hard to balance games designed around precision (keyboard and mouse) vs touch vs a TV remote. I don't see competitive cross platform multiplayer working well for most games.

LOL. This must be a joke. Right? How many times does Apple have to try and fail at something before they give up?

[…] there was Apple Arcade, their subscription for games that somehow managed to avoid the Apple Games Plus moniker. A very […]

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