For months, there have been reports that iPhone and Mac maker Apple was preparing to launch a game subscription service that would be like the gaming version of Netflix. Today, Apple clarified things by announcing Apple Arcade during its "show time" event.
Apple Arcade is a game subscription service that will provide subscribers with all-you-can-play access to a large library of mobile games. It will launch in 150 countries later this year on iOS, MacOS, and tvOS. Apple Arcade games aren't streamed, but are downloaded and played locally, with every game on the service being playable offline.
Apple has also confirmed that subscribers can "pick up where they left off in a game" when they switch devices between the Apple iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iMac, or MacBook. On top of this, none of the games will have ads in them, and all future content releases will be available through the service.
Apple says that Apple Arcade will feature more than 100 "new and exclusive" games when it launches in fall 2019. Only a fraction of these have been confirmed so far. Games like Annapurna Interactive's The Pathless and Sega's Sonic Racing had already been confirmed for other platforms. Other games such as Hot Lava from Don't Starve's Klei Entertainment and LEGO's Lego Brawls are newly announced titles. Studios like Konami and Cartoon Network along with creators like Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi are also working on games for Apple Arcade.
Exclusivity means that these games won't be available on any other mobile platform or game subscription service. Storefronts like the Epic Games Store have been criticized heavily for its exclusive games. It remains to be seen how the wider gaming public will respond to Apple Arcade exclusivity, but so far, it seems as though most expected Apple to make these deals happen.
Apple hasn't announced Apple Arcade pricing yet, and so it's too soon to suggest how many will be willing to pay for the service. One could argue that the company is in an excellent position, having doled out revenue of more than $20 billion to App Store developers in 2016. This figure was largely because of games like Pokemon GO. With so many mobile gamers already spending so much on App Store titles, for many of them, it will make sense to get Apple Arcade, as it saves them money.
However, Apple Arcade does face a huge amount of competition. Sony and Microsoft have game subscription services in PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass, Apple Arcade competitor Google Stadia will likely be subscription-based, and the online retailer Amazon is said to be planning a similar service, too.