Apple has announced Apple Arcade, a new mobile and Mac gaming subscription service that brings the best of the App Store to gamers for a monthly fee.
It's Apple's take on the whole "Netflix-for-gaming" approach – tying gamers into a monthly subscription that gives them access to top-quality videogaming adventures that aren't available anywhere else. Apple Arcade has a good heritage behind it – Apple was arguably the first company to take mobile gaming seriously and make it financially viable, and as a result it's now got the backing of some of the most important names in mobile game development.
It's also great news for Mac owners, who have always played second fiddle to PC gamers when it comes to finding top-notch game experiences on their platform.
Apple Arcade was unveiled with over 100 unique (read 'indie') titles, exclusive to Apple's devices, including Beneath a Steel Sky, a remake of the classic adventure game, with art by Watchman comic book legend Neil Gibbons.
In addition, the collection of games available is set to be curated by experts, will be updated monthly, and will include original releases from renowned creators Hironobu Sakaguchi, Ken Wong, Will Wright and more.
All these exclusive games could cost Apple a pretty penny, with some reports suggesting that Apple is set to spend over $500 million on the new service. But with a new iPod Touch being released in the same year, Apple seems to be intelligently luring youngsters to its new service.
Essentially, Apple Arcade is Xbox Games Pass for mobile devices. The thing is Apple has left us with more questions than answers about this new offering, so we've rounded up everything we know so far about the Apple Arcade subscription service.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Apple's mobile and Mac gaming subscription service
- When does it launch? Autumn 2019 (Between September and November 2019)
- What can I play it on? iPad, iPhone, Mac, and Apple TV
- How much will it cost? Pricing is still TBC
Apple Arcade release date
Apple said on stage during the service's launch event that Apple Arcade will release in "fall 2019", which means we can expect it to launch between September and November 2019.
Apple has promised the service will be supported in 150 regions at launch.
Apple Arcade controllers
Any good gaming platform needs a great controller – but Apple Arcade is in a rather unique position of having to work across multiple hardware platforms and input devices – be that over a touchscreen for iPad and iPhone, a keyboard and mouse for Mac, and a remote for Apple TV.
But when it comes to gaming, nothing beats a gamepad. At WWDC 2019, Apple announced that, if you're playing Apple Arcade games on an Apple TV device, you'll be able to pair the excellent Sony PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 pad, and Microsoft's Xbox One gamepad up with the TV box too.
Now, potentially, there's not much preventing Apple from extending this support to Apple Arcade for mobile devices, and surely to Mac too – there are already many workarounds to make both devices usable as a controller for Apple's computers. Fingers crossed Apple will expand native support for both pads to Apple Arcade, no matter what device you're playing on.
Apple Arcade features
No ads, no ad-tracking and no additional purchases
Apple Arcade will be a single subscription service – pay your money each month, and you won't have to endure any adverts on the service. There will be no ad-supported version at launch, and Apple has given no suggestion that that will ever be on the cards.
Over 100+ games
Apple Arcade will give users access to over 100 games, all of which will be Apple Arcade exclusives, curated by experts and updated monthly. "You can try whatever you want, whenever you want," according to Apple.
Games available offline
According to Apple, all the games on Apple Arcade will be available to play offline, so no need to worry about losing access to them if you're on the subway or out in the middle of nowhere away from a mobile connection.
The Apple Arcade service offers a Family Sharing plan so all household members can play the game for a single subscription cost. That'll make it attractive to households that have bought into the Apple ecosystem with iPads, Macbooks and iPhones – especially if it means mum and dad don't have to hand over the iPhones so that the kids can play.
What's Apple Arcade available on?
iPad, iPhone, Mac, and Apple TV. You'll also be able to pick up where you left off in a game, even if you switch devices.
Private and secure
Apple Arcade games cannot collect any data about you without your consent.
Push for indies
While we know that Apple Arcade will include games such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Beneath a Steel Sky and Where Cards Fall, Apple promises games from the likes of Bossa Studios, Cartoon Network, Annapurna Interactive, Finji, Giant Squid, Klei Entertainment, Mistwalker Corporation, SEGA, Snowman, ustwo games, Konami, Lego, and many more.
Apple isn't just handpicking the games
The company is also contributing to the development costs and working closely with creators to bring their games to Apple devices. Apple's never really had much success (or, arguably, interest) in being a game developer itself, so this marks a rare moment where the company is getting directly involved in the industry.
Here's what Phil Schiller has to say...
“The App Store is the world’s biggest and most successful game platform. Now we are going to take games even further with Apple Arcade, the first game subscription service for mobile, desktop and the living room,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.
“We are working with some of the most innovative game developers in the world to create over 100 new and exclusive games to play across iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV.
"Apple Arcade games will be great for families, respect user privacy and will not have ads or require any additional purchases. We think players of all ages are going to love Apple Arcade.”
Apple Arcade trailers
Apple revealed the Apple Arcade service during an Apple special event on March 25, 2019. You can check out the first trailer for the service below:
Apple Arcade price
We've sadly not heard anything about the cost of the new Apple Arcade service, which hints to us that there are still negotiations going on with studios and developers over how the pricing model is going to work.
We would assume that either at WWDC 2019 or the iPhone 11 launch event we'll be getting more information here - given we're going to see Apple Arcade at the tail end of the year, it's almost certain that more information might land around the launch of iOS 13, which traditionally happens in September.