Craig Grannell’s played every Apple Arcade game – here are his thoughts in figures
Apple Arcade surprised everyone. Apple’s always felt like a company that got big in games despite itself, what with its puritanical stance on approvals, hamfisted approach to controllers, and allowing Game Center to gradually wither away to nothing.
But with Apple Arcade, the company has made a fresh start. Right out of the gate, it had a launch line up most other services would kill for, and new titles are regularly being added. It’s brought joy back to mobile gaming, and also gives you the option to switch play to Apple TV for a big-screen experience – handy for more console-oriented titles.
Here are seven important sets of figures related to the service, which affect the games, how you play, and how much you’ll pay.
0: adverts and in-app purchases
Apple instigated a race to the bottom in app pricing, which left developers struggling. With one-off purchases of a buck, no companies could maintain app updates indefinitely. Hence why mobile gaming in particular became a cesspool of advertising and exploitative in-app purchases, ‘encouraging’ payments to remove the worst of this.
Apple Arcade does away with the junk. Although some games have an element of grind – like they were freemium titles where IAP was hastily removed before Apple came calling – none have ads, and none have any additional purchases. Every Apple Arcade game is a premium experience.
100: how many games you’ll have this fall
This summer, Apple made noises about Apple Arcade kicking off with a hundred games. In the event, we got ‘only’ 71. Some people grumbled. Quite why, it’s hard to say, because by any measure 71 new games is an awful lot of new games to play.
Still, since then, Apple’s been adding new titles (at the time of writing, 80 are available), and they can all be played across iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. (Macs drew the short straw. Apple Arcade is available on that platform, but – again, at the time of writing – have access to only about half of the games.) Apple now reckons the figure of 100 titles will be reached during this fall.
50: the percentage of good games
Having access to 100 games is meaningless if they all happen to be terrible. Fortunately, Apple Arcade has a solid hit rate. Of course, one person’s amazing is another person’s “throw it in the sea”, but we reckon at least half of the games on Apple Arcade are properly good – and a decent chunk are among the best on the platform.
It’s also notable that very few games on the service are objectively bad. There is the odd stinker (and one or two buggy messes); but even most games that don’t scream PLAY ME! at every hour still entertain for a short while.
15: how many puzzlers you get
Apple has its own special way of categorizing games that doesn’t always make a lot of sense. (Also, it endearingly – or irritatingly – entirely avoids referring to certain genres, such as shoot ’em ups.)
On assigning games to more conventional genres, puzzle games and arcade titles are the most common currently on the service, at 15 and 13 games, respectively. Adventure, shoot ’em up, and strategy fans are also well catered for, with nine games apiece.
Probably don’t delve into Apple Arcade if you’re a big fan of word games, though – during the launch, there were only two, neither of which was up to much.
77: the GB you need if you download every game
Something that is extremely apparent with Apple Arcade is the millions Apple lobbed at developers. Most of these games – even the simple puzzlers – are a visual delight. But that also means they are hefty downloads, with many games being several GB in size.
Totting up Apple’s app size estimates, you’d need roughly 77 GB of free space to download every game on to your device – although that figure drops a bit with an iPhone, because smaller displays require smaller assets.
Fortunately, iCloud progress sync means if you’ve a smaller device, you can always delete a game you’re part-way through, check out something new, and later return to an old favorite to pick up where you left off.
4, 9, and 12: minimum-age bands
There are three age bands for Apple Arcade games, and each title is recommended as being suitable for 4+, 9+, or 12+. Judgments appear to have been made due to a mix of complexity and content – although Apple Arcade broadly steers clear of overtly adult fare. (Some games have emotionally mature themes, but none have you drowning in gore or faced with gratuitous sexual content.)
Perhaps emphasizing the family-friendly nature of the service, the early line-up roughly splits evenly between the aforementioned age groups. And do remember if you subscribe to Apple Arcade, the subscription is fully compatible with Family Sharing, so your kids can play for no extra outlay.
73 and 3: money, money, money
Apple Arcade is a subscription. You get a month’s trial for free, and are then billed at $4.99/£4.99 per month, until you ask Apple to stop. Should you end your subscription, you lose access to the games.
You might not be keen on this lack of permanence, but should perhaps be mindful of the value proposition. We looked through details of five Apple Arcade games available elsewhere: Pilgrims; Neo Cab; Jenny LeClue; Sayonara Wild Hearts; What the Golf?
To buy them all, you’d need to pay almost $73 ($72.95, to be precise), and that’s across two different PC services (Steam and the Epic Games Store) and Nintendo Switch (for Sayonara Wild Hearts). For the same price – and with no need for extra hardware – you could get 14 months of Apple Arcade, which would also give you access to well over 70 additional titles during that period. Comparatively speaking, that seems like a bargain!