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Apple Arcade: Is It Worth It?

apple arcade presentation september announcement

Apple just announced the price and release date for Apple Arcade, the mobile company's latest venture into gaming. The service will launch on September 19 and cost a mere $4.99 per month after a free month trailer. Apple Arcade seems like a good deal, but is it really worth the cost for what consumers are getting?

How Does Apple Arcade Work?

The Apple subscription service works a lot like Netflix or Xbox Game Pass. Subscribers will have access to a library of new and mobile exclusive games. At its September event, Apple announced that when the service goes live there will be over 100 "new and exclusive" games to download.

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Over 50 games have been announced for the Apple service, with the rest presumably coming at launch. It's not a question of quantity, Apple has that covered, but what about the average quality and length of these games? How many Apple Arcade launch games will be interesting enough to recommend someone subscribe just to play?

Apple Arcade Games

There are plenty of games that look promising based on trailers or are in the works at trusted game development teams. Some exciting games announced at the event this month include ChuChu Rocket! Universe, Exit the Gungeon, Rayman Mini, and Various Daylight among others.

ChuChu Rocket! Universe is the sequel to a beloved Dreamcast game and is an action puzzler that feels like it will fit well on iOS. Roguelike shooter Enter the Gungeon is getting a spinoff called Exit the Gungeon, where players climb up to escape a dungeon, as opposed to crawling it. Various Daylight is a JRPG from the creators of Bravely Default and Octopath Traveler.

Rayman Mini was the highlight of this presentation. An exclusive new Rayman 2D platformer was announced for Apple Arcade and it looks to carry on the charm of Rayman Legends, even if it may not end up being as challenging.

These are certainly the top four contenders from the recent event, but there are more games with franchise recognition that could get fanbases on the platform that include Steven Universe: Unleash the LightShantae and the Seven Sirens, and Pacman: Party Royale.

Some previously announced Apple Arcade games range from art game to kart game. The Pathless, a game also coming to PS4, is the latest from Giant Squid Games, makers of underwater adventure Abzû. That's not the only PS4 game Annapurna Interactive is porting to Apple Arcade either. The upcoming stylish rhythm game Sayonara Wild Hearts is set for launch as well.

In terms of name recognition, Sega is bringing Sonic Racing to the table, which looks to be a small screen version of Team Sonic Racing. There are two LEGO games announced as well. Lego Brawls seems to be a more action focused Battle Royale style game and Lego Arthouse is more likely to be along the lines of a Minecraft or other creativity focused game.

The exclusives are not just new entries in major franchises, either. Shantae developer Way Forward is working on Contra style shooter Spidersaurs and Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi has announced Fantasian, a new RPG exclusive to Apple Arcade.

Quality of Apple Arcade Games?

But is iOS a capable platform to handle so many games of this caliber? Many of the announced games are experiences that fit perfectly on phones. Which is why Apple Arcade is playable on all devices. From being able to stream them on an Apple TV or Mac, to the handheld iPhone and iPad, these games will be playable anywhere and with options for controllers.

MFI (Made for iOS) controllers are supported at launch and there are plans for eventual DualShock 4 support later in the year. Other Bluetooth third-party controllers will be compatible, but that rules out the possibility of using an Xbox One controller. While controller support is key it also brings to light two issues. Apple is not releasing a controller for Apple Arcade, so there will be no standardized pad. Additionally, anyone who wants to play on a controller is limited to third-party options.

And with so many control options, most games will have to both support touchscreen and controller support. No game can be built from the ground up with functionality exclusive to the new iPhone because all games need to be playable on Apple TV. The games on Apple Arcade could end up being incredible for mobile experiences, but when it comes to the big screen they may not translate as well.

Will Apple Arcade Be Worth It?

While some of the games will end up being disappointing versions of proven concepts on other platforms, others like The Pathless and Spidersaurs offer new ideas from proven developers. There is enough on the service, at least announced so far, to justify the low price. Of course, there's no guarantee when it comes to quality but unlike Xbox Game Pass or UPlay+, gamers will have access to dozens of games they haven't played before. That alone should be enough to entice curious players for at least the free month.

However, if playing on a TV with a controller is a primary intention, then maybe avoid the service for now, especially when some of its biggest games can be played elsewhere. The company's rough track record when it comes to mobile games is another reason to avoid early adoption to the Apple Arcade. Only in recent years have partnerships with Nintendo made games like Pokemon Go extremely profitable for Apple. This turn into being a gaming company is very recent, and Apple is inexperienced. If this is worrisome, hold off. If not, trying the free month can't hurt and the $4.99 a month price-point isn't terrible for the number of interesting games coming to the service.

Apple Arcade is out on September 19 for $4.99 a month on all iOS devices.

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