New iPad Pro will launch with something the 2020 model didn’t: a huge games library

iPad Pro 12.9
iPad Pro 12.9 (Image credit: Future)

Mobile gaming might be rising like a rocket but tablet gaming isn't far behind, with the big screen endemic of the gadget being really great for plenty of titles.

Apple's got a new iPad Pro on the way - we're expecting it on April 20 - and judging by its predecessors it's likely to be the company's most powerful slate to date, and every bit as large as the iPad Pro 2020.

The new iPad Pro is coming at a perfect time, as even since the 2020 iPad Pro launched about a year ago, gaming on tablets has become something much bigger and better than it was. There are many new console-quality games and popular services to choose from, so tablet gamers will be in luck.

The rise of the games service

Gaming subscription services are one of the best repositories of new titles for mobile gamers - Android tablet users get Google's Play Pass, and the new iPad Pro will get access to Apple Arcade.

Sure, Apple Arcade was around in March 2020 when the last Pro-tier iPad came out, as the service launched in 2019. But it came out with 60 titles, and has now expanded to a substantial 180, with the quality of available content arguably being higher now too.

Apple Arcade has quite a few action and puzzle games, and is mostly designed for iPhone users - we've previously complained about the lack of iPad-centric titles - but there are a number of games that work well on bigger displays.

There's a world of games beyond Apple Arcade, though, when you look at game streaming services. In the last year Xbox Games Pass and Google Stadia have both become huge sources of big games, with the former gaining the entire suite of Bethesda titles and the latter being the best service to play Cyberpunk on.

The latter isn't technically available on iOS yet, but it's in beta on Android devices, so will probably grace your iPad screen very soon. The former is on iOS, though, and it's great.

Streaming services work well on iPads; you can pair games controllers via Bluetooth or use on-screen controls if you prefer. If you're a fan of blockbuster video games you can now legitimately use your tablet in lieu of a console - that's a statement we probably couldn't have said before the iPad Pro 2020 launch.

Outside the services

XCOM 2: War of the Chosen on iPad

(Image credit: TechRadar / 2K games)

Perhaps the most exciting game developments in the tablet world are happening outside the subscription services, though, with them instead being in the console and PC titles being ported over to iOS.

In the last year big strategy games like XCOM 2 and Northgard have been ported over to iPads (the news of the latter is actually what prompted this article, in the sense that it's the straw that broke the camel's back).

These aren't just lazy transfers, though, and the games have been ported with touch controls and large screens in mind - they make it feel like you're a commander in a real battle, desperately inputting commands into a touch display, instead of a human playing a game.

These titles join other games like Tropico, Rome: Total War, and Civilization VI, which were previously ported to iPads. Hopefully they're just the start of a trend, though, as more developers realize there's a big audience for mobile and tablet strategy games.

Putting the 'able' in tablet

The world of mobile gaming is an exciting one, though sometimes it can be hard to look past the lazy cash-ins based on popular franchises, or the idle titles designed to sap your money. Get past those, though, and there's a big world of games.

While iPad Pros have typically been devices designed for professionals (hence the name), the same processing power that makes them ideal for video editing and music processing also lends itself to gaming.

If the 2021 model is half as powerful as we expect it to be, or has the Mini LED screen we've heard it might get, it could be well-tuned for gamers. But as we've discussed, it'll also be able to make the most of a huge library of available titles.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.