On March 26, Apple held an Apple Special Event where they unveiled a few different things, from Apple TV+ to the Apple card.
However, I am interested on the part of their event that has to do with gaming: Apple Arcade. Coincidentally, as you know, Google unveiled Stadia the previous week at GDC. Apple Arcade is, however, a different take on gaming.
Apple Arcade is a subscription gaming service that, according to Apple, will include more than 100 games on launch this fall. Becuase it's a subscription service, users will be able to play any of the available games for as long as they have a subscription.
The service and the games will be accessible from any Apple device, from an iPhone to a desktop Mac computer.
There's been talk about game streaming, especially now that Stadia has been announced (although the service has been around for some time already).
Apple Arcade is not a game streaming service, though. In Arcade, you will have to download the games before you play, which is basically what every other gaming platform does at the moment.
The biggest advantage of this system, as we all know, is that you don't have to rely on your internet connection to play, which is a good thing. Personally, I mostly play single player games (I only play multiplayer games with my friends or family, but I never play with random people on the internet), and I really dislike being forced to have a constant internet connection for single player games.
Another interesting feature in Apple Arcade is that people will be able to stop playing in one device and continue playing on a different device, where they left off. Steam offers this kind of feature using Cloud Saves, so this means gamers are usually expecting this kind of feature to be available. I am unsure how this is going to work on the Apple Arcade, though.
Will it be a “snapshot” that is saved when you play, or will it be a more regular save game, where you must restart from the last save regardless of where you stopped playing?
Apple has partnered with some talented developers to bring different products to their platforms, and they state they will be working closely with developers to make sure games deliver the expected experience.
Another thing to mention is that these games will not be available in any other mobile platform (no mention if that specifically means the games may make their way to PC or consoles). This makes me think Apple Arcade is going to be a more closed system, unlike the iPhone, where you can publish your games as long as you pay your developer license and your game adheres to Apple's terms of service.
I haven't found information about how to apply as a developer, and I haven't found information about how developers get paid. Based on the subscription model, I am going to assume payments are made based on how many times (and for how long) their games are played.
I have read comments from some developers complaining about this approach, saying this means there's very specific kinds of games that will benefit from this (procedurally generated games, or games with infinite gameplay, or battle royales). However, I more or less disagree with that notion, because I think that, because gamers won't have to pay to access every game and the games are already available as part of the subscription, they will be more inclined to play them out of curiosity.
Just like in Netflix, you see a show or a movie and you start watching it, but if you get bored, you just stop and you don't mind because you didn't have to pay extra for it.
Another thing I wonder is how the development will work.
They say games will be playable on any Apple platform, and that's important because you have different devices with different specs. An iPhone is not as powerful as a Macbook Pro, so I guess developers will have to do extra work to make sure the games work on all platforms.
I think that, as a game developer, I must keep an eye on this platform, and that, at some point, it will be a good idea to try to get into it. Hopefully, the porting work will result in a good return of investment.
You can watch the entire Apple Special Event here (Apple Arcade starts at 40:31): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZmBoMZFC8g
More information about Apple Arcade on the Apple website: http://apple.co/Apple_Arcade_