Apple is unveiling a new Apple Arcade game subscription service today at the company’s show time event. Unlike cloud gaming services from competitors like Sony, Microsoft, Google, and Nvidia, Apple’s gaming subscription isn’t designed to stream games to iOS devices. Instead, it’s a subscription game service for titles that can be installed from the App Store.
Apple Arcade will give subscribers access to more than 100 "premium" games that they can play on their Apple devices, whether that means iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and Mac. The company is throwing some money at exclusives and has enlisted some big-name talent like Final Fantasy Creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, Ken Wong and Will Wright.
"Since every game includes access to the full experience, including all game features, content and future updates, no additional purchases will be required," reads the website.
It makes sense, given that Apple always seems to have been sort of embarrassed by how free-to-play, microtransaction-based titles have come to define the app store. Not that there hasn't been a huge amount of quality content in that sphere, just that it's not really Apple's style: it's a company that revolves around beautiful, handcrafted little devices that sell at a premium for ineffable reasons, and it seems like it prefers games that do the same. Typically, when Apple wants to call out a game it's something like Monument Valley, some sort of beautiful, handcrafted little experience that embodies Apple's own obsessive design aesthetic. Apple Arcade is an attempt to redefine what gaming on an Apple device looks like, at least from the company's own description.
The one major question? Alright, there are many questions, from what developers will be involved to how they will be compensated to what this means for the rest of the App Store and more, but in my mind the one crucial piece of information left out of this presentation was price. It really just sort of comes down to that: if this thing costs $1 a month, it will be an obvious buy. If it costs $100, it will be an obvious pass. The quality of this service comes down to what we're paying for it.
My guess is $10, but that's still a guess. Without a hard number from Apple it's just sort of impossible to evaluate the quality of this service. There's also been a rumor that Apple will pay developers based on time spent within the game, which would be awful but is still unconfirmed. Update: Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat says that the time played model is confirmed, which sounds terrible. More on that soon.