Apple Arcade Is Finally Getting Serious
Lots of new games - classic and fresh alike - added, a push for mainstream success a possibility
Even though hard numbers about its popularity with iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV owners have never been revealed, there's little question about its quality of content: Apple Arcade really is one of the best-curated subscription services at the moment, especially considering its low $4.99 monthly cost. Anything between 5 or 10 new games are added to its library every month and a total number of around 150 was nothing to sniff at. But the Cupertino giant has clearly decided to take it up a notch in April, since no less than 30 more games will be added to the Apple Arcade catalog during this month. What's more, several changes to that catalog will be more than welcome by the service's subscribers (no matter how many they may actually be).
First things first: there's a new section in Apple Arcade aimed at casual gamers called Timeless Classics. This will include games that are universally loved by millions of people on other platforms or in traditional, material (gasp!) form, such as Solitaire, Chess Play & Learn, Backgammon, Good Sudoku, Checkers Royal, Mahjong Titan, Tiny Crossword, Sudoku Simple or Flipflop Solitaire. There are even some modern variations such as Really Bad Chess or Spell Tower. Hardcore gamers can laugh these off all they want, but the fact is that they will probably prove to be extremely popular with older iDevice users and many more people looking for something instantly familiar to play.
Then there's another new section, of more interest to casual gamers of all ages, called App Store Greats. These are extremely popular, quality games that remain available to buy on their own, but Apple handpicked and included them in the Apple Arcade library in order to offer even more value through its service. The initial batch of these truly great games includes Mini Metro, Reigns, Fruit Ninja Classic, Don't Starve: Pocket Edition, Badland, Blek, Chameleon Run, Threes, The Room Two and Monument Valley. It's not clear whether these will remain forever in Apple Arcade or whether they'll be leaving at some point to be replaced by others of the same quality (a la Microsoft Game Pass), but they are worth everyone's time regardless.
Services of this type do rely on a steady stream of fresh games to keep current subscribers happy, of course, and Apple Arcade delivers on that front too. In April ten new games will be added to its library: NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition, Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker, Simons Cat: Story Time, Fantasian, SongPop Party, Taiko no Tatsujin: Pop Tap Beat, Cut the Rope Remastered, The Oregon Trail, World of Demons and Clap Hanz Golf. They are all of AAA quality, catering to different tastes and players of different demographics, as titles of a mainstream content service coming from Apple are expected to do.
These are all great additions to an already noteworthy service that is more family-friendly than most at this point in time: up to six members of a household can play Apple Arcade's games with the same subscription, there are no ads in any of the games included and neither are there any in-app purchases. These are more important than they might seem at first glance (as any parent with a kid and an iPad will attest).
With more quality titles such as The Artful Escape, Enter the Construct, Frenzic: Overtime, Legends of Kingdom Rush, Proxi and Ultimate Rivals: The Court coming to the service over the next few months, it seems that Apple Arcade is finally approaching must-have status among the subscriptions an iDevice person or family chooses to pay for on a monthly basis. A singular "killer-app" game it might be lacking still, but with so much quality on offer, who's complaining?
More importantly, though, it seems that Apple is finally getting serious about this service, looking to make its claim in the gaming space - be it mobile or home - official. It is something the Americans could (and probably should) have done a long time ago since games are among the most popular, and more lucrative, apps available in the App Store anyway. If rumors are true and (a) there's a much more powerful Apple TV device on the horizon, as well as (b) a game streaming service like xCloud or Stadia coming from the Cupertino giant, then Apple could actually be positioning itself to compete with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo from 2022. Weirder things have happened!