Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Canceling Apple Arcade Games

Mark Gurman and Jason Schreier (also: MacRumors):

Apple Inc. has shifted the strategy of its Apple Arcade gaming service, canceling contracts for some games in development while seeking other titles that it believes will better retain subscribers.


On calls in mid-April, an Apple Arcade creative producer told some developers that their upcoming games didn’t have the level of “engagement” Apple is seeking, the people said. Apple is increasingly interested in titles that will keep users hooked, so subscribers stay beyond the free trial of the service, according to the people.


The company hasn’t said how Apple Arcade is performing, but it recently started offering a second free trial month, indicating that some users likely aren’t remaining subscribers for very long.

I thought Apple Arcade was supposed to enhance the value of Apple’s platforms by funding quality games that didn’t have to chase engagement metrics. Now, it sounds like it’s about services revenue.

McCloud, last year:

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.


This might be a good strategy to maximize revenue in the short and mid term, but will also lead to fungible games. Sony actually gets gaming and this is why you’ll see things that would never get greenlit in a metrics-driven world that end up selling consoles.


Update (2020-07-06): Benjamin Mayo:

At the original March event, Apple Arcade was positioned as a subscription service offering an eclectic collection of novel and unique titles, drawing on the raw creativity of indie game studios, as well as mixing in some games from larger franchises. The fact that Apple was funding the games upfront meant that the developers had the freedom to create, in Apple’s words, “the best work of their lives” and without having to contort the gameplay to accommodate monetisation mechanics like interstitial ads, in-game currency, artificial time limits and such.


I also think there are strong arguments that Apple’s monetary commitments to Arcade are too small, especially when you look at what they are happily spending on the TV side. Adding a handful of big-budget high-production games into Arcade would surely be a good thing. As it stands, the budget for Apple’s two series order of The Morning Show exceeds investment into the entire Arcade library.

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Does anyone have examples of games which were cancelled? Everything I've seen so far has been Apple's PR. Usually studios and indie devs leak rumors like a sieve.

I did the free trial and quit, because the only games on it were trivial junk, or that I already had. Or both, Glorkian Warrior is a remarkably stupid but amusingly-designed game from nearly a decade ago. Nobody would pay $5/mo for access to it.

I want the “Think Different” Apple again.

Not the Apple that tries to leverage their hundreds of billions just be a follower in entertainment industries like TV and Video Games. *sigh* Leave the TV to Netflix and the family-friendly games to Nintendo.

Jack of all trades becomes master of none.

Well, that's terrible news. The only reason I was considering buying an iPad again, after about seven years of not buying any Apple products, was to get access to a bunch of interesting games that would not be possible on a mobile platform without Apple basically subsidizing them.

Tim Cook is a talented builder of global production processes. The system he built under Jobs is a masterwork in its own right.

Unfortunately, that’s about the limit of his genuine talents, and the rest is entirely unremarkable executive stuff. Cook has no clue how to design, seed, or grow brand new customer markets; nor how to locate and raise the internal talent to handle all those tasks for him. Hence the flat growth, stale products, and endless bloody rent seeking ever since the master builder of *markets* passed on.

So Cook’s now trying to design, run, and grow the customer-facing Apple the same way he successfully designed, ran, and grew its internal workflows. Millions don’t care, but to those paying attention it shows. Smart investors should have cashed their shares by now and moved on to finding their Next Big Thing. And the content creators, if they’ve any sense at all, will have spread their risks around and not leave them all in the Apple basket.

Don’t get me wrong: for the Cook board this is all a perfectly practical route to easy profits and happy stockholders. And for agile, canny vendors, there’s plenty money still to be made too. Apple 2.0 is such a juggernaut they can afford to drive it dry for many more years before the wheels at last fall off. But fall off they eventually will.

Look at Ballmer’s Microsoft, which lost the entire global consumer market inside a generation. Cos when Apple loses the next generation of customers, it won’t have a fat backup of business markets to fall back on. No IBM elder statesmanship for a post-consumer Apple; it will simply stop.

The old Dell adage still holds.

“Now, it sounds like it’s about services revenue.” - what does Apple do now that is not about services?

I imagine they already view selling iPads and Macs and iPhones as ways to get users to subscribe to services - maybe not exclusively yet, but that is the direction it is heading.

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