Apple Arcade Will Fix the Fundamental Problem With Gaming in the App Store

A saving grace for the Apple's app marketplace.

Apple wants to transform the App Store into a gaming marketplace worth paying for.

As part of the company’s recently announced services push, Apple Arcade is revamping its gaming product to encourage the development of more unique and compelling games. Instead of paying upfront or funding the games through in-app purchases, Arcade customers will be able to play them all as much as they want for a set subscription fee. The company has reportedly pumped $500 million into building out the library, which will launch with over 100 premium games and, hopefully, bolster the App Store’s gaming reputation.

After all, though Apple described its App Store as “the world’s biggest and most successful game platform,” in a March 25 press release announcing the service, few gamers would agree with the claim. The platform is famous for having too many janky freemium games, many of which seem suspiciously good at coaxing young users into spending thousands of dollars on micro-transactions.

Thoughtfully created games have also struggled to compete against free apps, because there’s no way users can test them before shelling out anything from $2.99 to $40. This may be why the subscription model could actually be somewhat transformative, says Jelle Kooistra — the Head of Analytics at video game industry analytics firm Newzoo. Kooistra tells Inverse that Apple Arcade is just what the App Store needs to tear down the barrier created by an upfront cost for premium games.

Ann Thai, senior product marketing manager of the App Store, introducing Apple Arcade.

“This can be a huge game-changer for the mobile gaming industry, which for years has been dominated by free to play games,” he said. “[Premium] games are hard to find in the App Store, and many gamers are reluctant to pay an upfront price if they aren’t fully convinced by the App Store profile. Apple Arcade hopes to give these kinds of games a bigger place in the mobile gaming space - and to bring gamers on its devices unique content.”

The subscription service will charge customers a yet-to-be-announced fee for an all-you-can-eat roster of games, exclusively created for Apple devices. These will range from arcade-style racing games, like Sonic Racing to full-fledged RPGs like Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm.

Apple Arcade will let subscribers try every game the service has to offer, instead of forcing them to pick one they might not even enjoy. It will also incentivize game developers to create more engaging and different game experiences, rather than trying to stand out amongst an ocean of free-to-play games.

Apple Arcade stretches across all Apple's devices.
Apple Arcade stretches across all Apple's devices.

Building out a list of district games will be crucial to Apple Arcade’s success in a time where people are already paying for multiple subscription services. Just like how HBO hooks Netflix and Hulu subscribers to pay simply to watch Game of Thrones, Apple needs to prove that Apple Arcade is a place to find titles they can’t get anywhere else. And company CEO Tim Cook knows that.

“Apple Arcade is a great way to unleash the creativity of the game developer community with a collection of new games not available on any other mobile platform or in any other subscription service,” he said during Apple’s April earnings call.

The company has reportedly invested $500 million, making it clear that it understands redeeming the App Store’s reputation won’t come cheap. The opportunity could definitely be worth it: The industry is forecasted to be worth $205.5 billion by 2023, according to a report by Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence. Apple Arcade could not only get the company a slice of that pie, it could also give indie game developers a massive platform to deliver better content that Apple gamers actually love.

Apple announced that the service will be available in “150 regions by the fall.” That means the App store could soon be a place for quality interactive entertainment, instead of a hodgepodge of dubious freemium games.