Apple Arcade is a non-streaming game subscription for iOS and macOS

Play over a hundred ad-free games downloaded and installed directly to your device in exchange for a monthly fee. Is it Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass? Well, yes, but actually no. This time around, we're talking about Apple Arcade, a service the iDevice maker announced as part of its "Show Time" event yesterday.

Subscription services live and die by their included content. To that end, Apple flaunts some relatively big names that have signed up to create exclusive titles for the service. Fantasian is a 3D role-playing game designed by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's Mistwalker Corporation. Beyond a Steel Sky from Revolution Software is a direct sequel to the studio's 1994 point-and-click adventure Beneath a Steel Sky. Apple's press release also name-drops Will Wright, Sega, and Konami, among others. 

Apple plans to deliver its Arcade service as an extension of its App Store on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and macOS this fall. Families can sign up with a single subscription that gives access to the Arcade to six members, though the pricing for that tier isn't yet available. The company says the games available through its service will "not be available on any other mobile platform or in any other subscription service." That oddly-specific phrasing, which doesn't say "exclusive" anywhere, seems to imply that you may be able to get some of these games on certain other platforms without a subscription. Sonic Racing seems like a perfect candidate for separate purchase, since previous games in that series have been available on their contemporary consoles and on Windows.

Interested developers and aspiring game-makers will be able to nominate their wares for Apple Arcade on the Apple Developer website. Apple says it's backing interested developers both financially and technically. Cupertino hasn't explicitly indicated that Apple Arcade will use any sort of universal binaries, but a unified API could be the direction in which Apple is heading. Last fall, macOS Mojave included both early support for iOS's UIKit framework on the Mac platform and a handful of first-party apps that have been ported to the Mac. We'll find out more when Apple Arcade launches this fall.

Ben Funk

Sega nerd and guitar lover

Comments closed
    • shaq_mobile
    • 5 months ago

    I’m confused. Mac already has quake 3.

    • tipoo
    • 5 months ago

    Hmmm. The more I stewed on this the more it’s kind of what I wanted, albeit as always the Apple-ized version of it.

    I’ve been saying since it launched that they were sitting on a heckin powerful microconsole with the ATV, now that they dropped the wand controller requirement. But the software wasn’t there, so I wished for them to fund some exclusive games.

    With Arcade, they are funding exclusives, and those games are said to work (or be able to be made to work) across macOS, iOS, and TVOS. So if any of the exclusives are good, I did kind of get the push from them for ATV games, and it running on macOS come to think of it is an unexpected bonus.

      • blastdoor
      • 5 months ago

      I agree 100%.

      Perhaps the common thread to everything they announced is “stuff we should have done 10 years ago.”

    • confusedpenguin
    • 5 months ago

    I played World of Warcraft for a while on an iMac. It does gaming well as long as you have a decent GPU.

      • blastdoor
      • 5 months ago

      And it does even better if you run Windows in Bootcamp.

      There is often a large drop in performance in the same game on the same hardware if you play the Mac version rather than the Windows version. It’s kind of embarrassing for Apple, I think.

        • Pulsar_the_Spacenerd
        • 5 months ago

        That’s very interesting, especially given their ability to utilize processors in their mobile devices incredibly effectively. It might simply be that World of Warcraft is better optimized for DirectX than OpenGL/Vulcan, which is very likely.

          • blastdoor
          • 5 months ago

          Sorry — I just realized my post was misleading. I didn’t mean WoW specifically, but games more generally. I don’t actually know about WoW specifically.

          But the hypothesis about d3d optimization is a great example of why Apple needs to dogfood. It could be way too easy for Apple to convince themselves that your hypothesis is correct, but what if it’s not — what if apples software just sucks? They need to know that.

          Regarding mobile, do we really know? Here’s what I think we know regarding mobile:

          1. Apple has by far and away the best hardware
          2. Apple does a great job of optimizing safari/WebKit and the OS in general

          But I don’t think we really know how well Metal is optimized. If we could see D3D on an iPhone then maybe we’d know, but I’m guessing we will never see that.

          • tipoo
          • 5 months ago

          They did make Metal with drawing the OS in mind. Perhaps the requirements for doing that efficiently are a bit out of line with what a game wants, getting frames processed in the minimum amount of time. If you look at Barefeats comparison of just about any Metal title vs DX11 it still fares pretty poorly. How much of that is the API and how much is dev optimization for DX is really hard to tell.

          [url<]https://barefeats.com/directx_versus_metal_2.html[/url<]

        • derFunkenstein
        • 5 months ago

        This is true. Windows runs all the cross-platform games I care about much better than macOS on my MBP. Problem is none of those games are using a completed Metal driver. Here are some examples:

        StarCraft 2 – Metal beta hasn’t been updated in over a year
        Diablo 3 – OpenGL only
        BattleTech – uses Unity, no way in-game to choose my renderer. Not sure what it’s using

        The games vary from “slideshow” to “totally workable” but in Windows they all run at (estimated, total guess) nearly 2x the framerate. I have to run BattleTech at 1080p on medium-to-low settings to get playable framerates, while High settings and the machine’s native resolution work great in Windows. The state of Mac games is pretty sad right now.

    • blastdoor
    • 5 months ago

    Of the stuff they announced, this is the only one that seems like a potential winner to me.

      • snowMAN
      • 5 months ago

      Of the stuff they announced, this is the only one that might see an immediate world-wide roll-out?

      • chuckula
      • 5 months ago

      What do you mean??

      THEY FINALLY LAUNCHED THE ARM MIRACLE CHIP!!

      AKA: Apple credit card. Does it have a chip? Yes. Do you need an arm to use it? Most certainly!

        • JustAnEngineer
        • 5 months ago

        … and a leg, too.

          • freebird
          • 5 months ago

          I know what ARM stands for, but what about LEG? Lowly Equipped Graphics?

    • blastdoor
    • 5 months ago

    I hope Apple develops first party games. Not because I think they’ll be good or successful, but because it might help Apple better understand the perspective and needs of game developers.

      • chuckula
      • 5 months ago

      Apple iPhone Manufacturing Sweatshop Tycoon….. CONFIRMED!

      #SuicideNetUpgradeFTW

        • cygnus1
        • 5 months ago

        I’d play it!

      • tipoo
      • 5 months ago

      Yep, dogfooding Metal 2 from a game dev perspective. Its performance is still under DX11 let alone 12 most of the time, even with the vast upgrade from their 7 year old OpenGL version.

      • psuedonymous
      • 5 months ago

      [quote<]but because it might help Apple better understand the perspective and needs of game developers[/quote<]This is [i<]Apple[/i<] we're talking about. They'd expect game developers to understand the perspective and needs of Apple instead.

    • chuckula
    • 5 months ago

    YOU HAD ME AT NON-STREAMING!

      • drfish
      • 5 months ago

      Yeah, but they lost me at Apple, game, and subscription.

        • chuckula
        • 5 months ago

        Oh, I’d never use it for any and all of those reasons.
        But I’ll at least give Apple credit for having less RDF than Google did a few days ago with its inevitably-cancelled-by-this-time-next-year “stadia” thing.

        • cygnus1
        • 5 months ago

        Yeah… these are all going to be purchasable games still and I would likely spend less over time by just buying the ones I’d actually want to play.

        I will however certainly use the Arcade as a pointer to games that don’t have in-app purchases and are supposed to be solid single player games though.

        • Chrispy_
        • 5 months ago

        Apple have made it so bloody awkward for game developers trying to publish to both iOS [i<]and[/i<] OSX that I do not believe their goal for Apple Arcade is anything other than an attempt to steal some of the hype from Google's Stadia. They have fractured the APIs, they have shunned PC and console developers, and they have added unnecessary hoops that act as real barriers to indie developers hoping to publish games for either of their OSes. The sudden change of direction is obviously because they see a subscription revenue and if Google can do it, so can they - only more profitably.

      • Neutronbeam
      • 5 months ago

      Too bad we didn’t have you at NON-SCREAMING…

        • K-L-Waster
        • 5 months ago

        Careful, you’ll make SSK mad…

      • MrDweezil
      • 5 months ago

      Ironically Microsoft has a non-streaming gaming subscription service and one thing that would really help it is a streaming option. There’s a bunch of games on there that seem intriguing enough to be worth a try, but not intriguing enough to wait for a 40GB download. I would appreciate the ability to try them immediately via streaming and then determine if I want to give it a spot on my harddrive.

        • LostCat
        • 5 months ago

        xCloud was announced before Stadia was, and may be closer to release.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This