Apple Arcade has finally been out long enough for us to provide a proper assessment. With what we've experienced with it so far, the positives heavily outweigh the negatives. Even though it was never advertised as such, Apple may have just provided the blueprint on how "gaming as a service" should be implemented. In this review, we show how Apple successfully built a platform that invigorated mobile gaming.
The Great Library of Apple Arcade
Even though Apple Arcade released with only around 35 titles, those titles still provided a lot of bang for the buck. Considering that the first month of the service was offered for free, 35 titles are already a lot. At $4.99 a month, you're paying less than a quarter for access to each of those games.
This pricing is justified by the level of quality of the titles on offer. There's something for everyone, from rhythm games to hardcore RPGs to casual games. Various websites have different lists of what they think are the best games on Apple Arcade. That speaks volumes on the quality and variety of games there is in the service.
These games also don't have any freemium or microtransaction nonsense embedded in them. They don't have ads or immersion-breaking product placements in them. They're offered how games ought to be: a complete package with no paywalls beyond your initial payment.
Apple sweetens the deal with its continuous addition of titles on the platform, and by now, its library has more than doubled. Their promise to deliver more than a hundred (mobile-exclusive) games is still months away from taking form, and yet it's already hard to choose which game to play with just a fraction of that hundred.
Had these titles been offered separately, they would usually cost anywhere between $0.99 to $7.99. With Apple Arcade, you gain access to all of them simultaneously, switching between games seamlessly. There is plenty to choose from, with many of these games giving back value more than the $4.99 you pay for the service each month.
Play Anywhere, Anytime
Apple Arcade's meticulously curated library isn't the only thing that's great about it. Being able to play your games across different platforms—and keep your progress across multiple devices—is a great feature as well. Younger readers may not relate with this, but there was a time when cloud saves isn't a thing, and your progress in games is locked on just one device.
Meanwhile, Apple Arcade lets you pick up from where you left off on any of your games with any of your Apple devices. It's a feat that even companies who have been in gaming for a long time already cannot implement successfully. For example, Nintendo requires its users to pay extra to have cloud saves enabled on the Nintendo Switch. And even then, not all of their games support cloud saves.
The fact that Apple has already mastered this cloud saving functionality within its first attempt in gaming subscription services speaks a lot on how much thought and planning went into Apple Arcade.
Apple Arcade Is Worth More Than Just $4.99
Apple Arcade packs a lot of features and content for the measly fee of $4.99 a month. The fact of the matter is Apple Arcade is actually worth more than the charge it's charging its users. The $4.99 monthly subscription fee was worth it when it launched with only a few dozens of titles available. With more games coming in, users are enjoying a great deal out of their subscription.
Add in additional quality of life features such as the seamless transition between devices, a free family sharing feature for up to six users, as well as an ad-free and microtransaction-less experience in all your games—and you get the recipe needed for a proper "gaming as a service" platform.