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Apple Arcade – an all-you-can-play gaming service

Apple has announced yet another upcoming subscription service, a smorgasbord of all-you-can-eat premium games for a fixed monthly fee, to be called Apple Arcade.

Apple will not only curate the selection of games in its Arcade, but actually back their development from day one. The company has been working with a range of independent developers – including some big names – on upwards of 100 original games for the new service.

The demo reel shown off at Apple’s press event looked impressive, with a suite of console-quality games, including a new game in the Zelda-inspired Oceanhorn series, and an official Sonic the Hedgehog title. There was a huge range of styles on show here and it looks like there will be something for every taste.

An official Sonic Racing game from SEGA will be part of the Arcade bundle

“Competing with free is hard for premium games,” explains Apple’s Tim Cook. As mobile games have evolved, we’ve seen the rise of “freemium” features like timers, life counters, video ads, virtual currencies, and in-app purchases. None of these benefit the gaming experience, and their prevalence is frustrating for players and premium game developers alike.

Apple Arcade could be a way to free developers from the shackles of trying to monetize their content in unusual ways, instead being financed indirectly by subscribers to the Arcade.

Beyond a Steel Sky, a gorgeous-looking cyberpunk adventure game

Apple Arcade will take up a coveted spot in the App Store tab bar, replacing the Updates section.

To say this is “like Netflix for games” is a good start, but Apple could have done that by licensing a bucket of existing games and calling it a day. Instead, the Arcade is a place for new and exciting premium games to flourish, and it looks like it will be populated solely with new titles built specifically for this platform.

It’s unclear yet if any of these games will be available to purchase separately, or on other platforms like games consoles, but Apple has made clear that these originals will not be available on any other mobile platform on subscription service.

Subscribers can download and play as many Arcade games as they like

If the price is reasonable, this subscription will be a no-brainer for hardcore gamers – and could even appeal to casual gaming fans with the right marketing. Who doesn’t like unlimited games with no ads, right? However, Apple has yet to announce pricing for the service and chances are it will be more than the standard $10/month precedent it has set with other on-demand subscription services like Apple Music and News+.

Currently, most premium games on the App Store charge an up-front cost of around $5-10, with a few outliers pressing all the way up to $60 for a full game. All things considered, it’s not unreasonable to think Apple could charge around $30/month for access to its Arcade, though we think a much lower price would do a better job of enticing lapsed and casual gamers into the fold.

Arcade games will be playable on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac

Like the rest of Apple’s services, privacy is key here. None of these games can collect information about you, and thanks to the payment model there won’t be a single advert or in-app purchase either. Plus, it will integrate easily into Apple’s Screen Time settings to allow parents to manage their children’s usage of the service.

If Apple Arcade is a success, it could combat the rise of low-quality money-grabbing freemium games in favor of a new wave of premium experiences, paid for by the end user.

Some of our favorite mobile developers are working on games for Apple Arcade, and if you want to hear more from the people behind some of the App Store’s greatest games, the following video does a good job of introducing the key players Apple is working with.

This really shows how much Apple is embracing the paid subscription model as a way to monetize its services going forward. We’re pleased to see that in this case it’s designed in a way to funnel much of that money back to hardworking developers, enabling games to exist that probably would never get made without Apple’s backing.

There’s no official launch date for Apple Arcade yet, but we know it will be coming to 150+ countries this year. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as soon as anything else is announced.