Apple Arcade Gaming Service
New tech reports often bristle with features and specifications for serious hardware, but for a change, here’s news on Apple’s new gaming service. It’s a 500-million-dollar effort and serves as Apple’s first gaming subscription service. The games it offers are to be both new and exclusive to Apple, and will feature titles by top creators like Ken Wright and Ken Wong. Much of the aforementioned amount the company is spending on the gaming service is not only for games creation, but also for ensuring the games are exclusive to Apple. That includes keeping them from other subscription services and away from the Android platform. Apple is not just a game curator, selecting and collecting pre-existing games for exposure or sale, in other words. They are providing the financial resources to develop games. Plans are to make the Apple gaming service available in 150 countries.
The game service’s launch is scheduled for the fall of 2019. Features include all you can play with one subscription, no ads, and no in-app purchases required. The games will also be playable offline and offer access for up to six family members. Additional features include being able to use the gaming service on phones and tablets and having your account protected by robust security. The Apple gaming service will be easily sharable, and always available. The potential for this platform is huge, with availability planned for the App Store and its over 1 billion customers. It should also be noted that unlike cloud-based games offered by Microsoft, Sony, and Google, the games are not streamed to a mobile device; they are installed after downloading from the App Store. Is image quality inferior to streaming game services? Perhaps, but the difference is not as bad as reversion to a ‘90s dual-scan notebook computer’s display of a fentanyl pill image. The installed games include access to future updates at no extra charge. Subscriptions are charged as a monthly fee. Pricing otherwise is not yet available.
Curiously, despite the current generation hardware and software typically applied to creating games, the antique techniques of handcrafting and diorama construction play a substantial part here. Neighborhoods that some of the games feature are made entirely by hand, with 3-dimensional characters added. The game’s developers let the game story unfold as it progresses, sometimes necessitating extensive construction, which can be daunting. Game developers state the Apple gaming service games allow highly variable complexity. For example, one game, called “Overland” is a post-apocalyptic adventure. Each time you play, you’ll encounter a different setting, meet different people, and do different things. That suits the nature of the game developers just fine.
Apple’s gaming service includes games of all kinds, including:
- Traditional Action-and-Adventure
- Games with Lego Characters
- Mythical (Medieval Sword-and-Sorcery) Adventures
- High Fantasy
Sample titles include Beyond a Steel Sky, LEGO Brawls, Hot Lava, No Way Home, Doomsday Vault, and Kings of the Castle. Games might not stay exclusive to the Apple Arcade. It has been hinted that several months after a game’s release, it may “migrate” to Android or Xbox. While not much more than a rumor, that fits with Apple’s plan to continuously release new games. However, all of the planned content may not be available by the launch date, and some content will not be available in certain areas. So, like in the old days, not being able to deliver entirely on a company’s promise may just heighten your sense of anticipation.
Apple obviously intends to make this endeavor a healthy money maker. Though pricing to the consumer has not been released, Apple’s predictions for revenue is $370 million by the year 2020, growing to $4.5 billion by the year 2024. Those are very healthy projections, especially in the multi-billion dollar per year category. Strongly implied in those figures, however, are some necessary number estimates that would be challenging to attain at this point, like number of subscribers (tens of millions?) and number of new game titles per year (dozens, maybe more?). And even with achieving the aforementioned revenue predictions, how profitable would Apple Arcade be? The initial investment of $500 million will have to be supplemented, of course, and there could be other expenses yet to be seen. For Apple to succeed in this realm, they’ll need a truly interesting and innovative offering to see a return on their initial investment and turn a profit.