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.