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Apple Arcade – unlimited gaming for $5/month

Apple’s upcoming all-you-can-play gaming subscription service is due this Fall, and already Apple employees and a few sneaky developers have got their hands on early access to the program.

Apple Arcade, which is set to offer over 100 new and exclusive games from day one, is going to cost a lot less than we initially anticipated. When the news first broke of a gaming subscription, we naively thought anything up to $30 was a possibility. Then, after more information came in, we expected Apple to match its other streaming services (Music and News) and pitch the service around $10/month.

But according to this new report, Arcade may actually launch for as little as $5/month, with a free trial on offer so users know what they’re getting into before committing. That low price point would be a huge step towards convincing the public that paying a monthly fee for access to a games library is a worthwhile investment.

Though Arcade looks extremely promising, it’s clear Apple has an uphill marketing battle ahead. Non-gamers and casual players used to freemium experiences may fail to see the value in paying even a penny towards games, especially if they don’t consider themselves “gamers” in the conventional sense. (Spoiler: if you play Scrabble or Candy Crush, you’re a gamer.) Conversely, serious gamers who spend lots of time playing high-budget games on PC or console may laugh at the idea of mobile gaming being a worthwhile pursuit.

Both camps fail to see that Arcade is a great way to encourage smaller independent developers to stretch their creative muscles and try new things. We could see some of the most interesting and well-polished titles on iOS arrive here. When you consider that “premium” games (that is, titles with no ads, wait timers, or IAP in sight) usually cost several bucks apiece, you can see how subscribing makes financial sense – especially if you’re already in the habit of buying a couple games each month.

However, the value of the service really depends on the quality of those 100+ games. 9to5Mac has an exclusive video preview of six of those games, worth checking out if you’re curious. Sadly this initial batch feels a little underwhelming, though the production values are high and it seems like a really diverse range of styles is on the table. Remember though, that these are still in beta, and there is plenty more to come!

No matter what kind of gamer you are (or aren’t) we recommend you keep an open mind until Arcade launches. We’ll have much more on the subject for you when that happens!