Apple unveiled more information about its game subscription service, Apple Arcade, last week, the biggest news being the fairly reasonable pricing. The next day, I got to demo a few exclusive titles in Cupertino while learning some of the finer details of the service.
Around 100 games will be available to play at launch, all available for a monthly subscription fee of $7.99. On top of the standard all-you-can-play offering, you’ll get family access to the service, which equates to 6 independent logins.
One of Apple Arcade’s greatest drawcards is its total exclusion of in-game purchases, meaning the only cost you’ll be up for is the monthly payment to maintain the subscription.
The Arcade window will be accessible as a tab in the standard App Store, but the games you choose to play will be downloaded to your phone natively. If the subscription lapses, the games will no longer be playable, despite being there on the device.
In terms of the titles you’ll have access to, most of them are completely new, including a side-scrolling skate game called Skate City, a wild racer that’s kind of like a combination of Mario Kart‘s Rainbow Road and the F-Zero series, and more.
About half of the games will be entirely exclusive to Apple Arcade, meaning you won’t be able to find them anywhere else, while others may be available on other platforms. If a title is exclusive to Apple Arcade, it won’t be purchasable on its own, even via the App Store. In other words, if you liked what you saw during the keynote, the only way to play it will be to subscribe to Apple Arcade.
Apple wouldn’t comment on exactly how the relationship between it and the independent game developers works, but it was hinted that the deals differ on a kind of case-by-case basis. I was told that Apple was supporting development costs and technical resources for game development, but it’s unclear how deep that river runs.
It’s also unclear how Apple Arcade revenue will be split between the company and game makers, but told that it would operate differently to the App Store.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the service changes the mobile gaming landscape, given the platform – which will be curated by the company – will have the power to promote games which may have previously flown under the radar on the App Store.