Around a year and a half ago, Apple announced its game flat rate called Apple Arcade, and the California-based company launched the service around a year ago. So it's high time to take a second look at Apple's ambitions in the gaming market. Is Apple Arcade worth the subscription fees? What has happened since the initial release? How many and, above all, which games does Apple offer? And what does the extremely busy competition actually do? Questions about questions that we want to address.
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Apple Arcade has been available since September 19, 2019. For a price of 4.99 euros per month or 49.99 euros for an annual subscription, there is access to (currently) around 135 games, some of which have already been announced but not yet published. Gambling takes place exclusively on Apple platforms, namely iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or Mac or Macbook. The operating systems iOS, iPadOS, macOS and tvOS are supported. Games are downloaded and installed on the respective device, in a classic way. The service does not currently offer streaming. But all titles also work offline, except of course online modes.
Up to six users can share access via family sharing, crossplay and cloud save are supported by all games. So this means that you can play any game on a single game status across different Apple devices. On the Mac or MacBook, input is via mouse and keyboard or optionally with a controller, on the Apple TV a gamepad is compulsory, on the iPhone and iPad you have the choice between touchscreen and controller, which also depends on the respective game. Apple Arcade works with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers, as well as all gamepads with Mfi certification. That stands for "Made for iOS". The playing time is recorded on all devices with Apple Arcade using the screen time feature, and the playing time can optionally be limited by child safety. From autumn, Apple Arcade will also be available as part of the Apple One Mega Subscription.
Apple Arcade: Game offer
Apple Arcade started with a rather extensive line-up of more than 50 titles, and the range has been continuously expanded since then. This happens at irregular intervals, but mostly on Thursday; just not every week. The number of new games in a day varies, sometimes there is just a single release. Some games are (temporally) exclusive, many games also appear for other platforms. Most of the Apple Arcade catalog consists of indie titles or rather unknown brands. Only a few "classic" gaming brands such as Sonic, Pac-Man or Rayman are represented. Well-known games at Apple Arcade are for example Cat Quest 2, Dead End Job, Inmost, The Last Campfire, Necrobarista, Neo Cab, Neversong, Oceanhorn 2, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Sonic Racing or What the Golf ?.
Source: PC Games
Of course, that doesn't say anything about the quality of the games offered. You should just be aware that Apple does not give you access to current (or older) AA and AAA productions of the big brands for five euros per month. The performance of most of the supported devices (especially Apple TV, iPhone and iPad) is not sufficient for this; Games are run locally and not streamed. In terms of graphics, Apple Arcade's 3D titles usually oscillate somewhere between PS3 and PS4, 2D games look just as good as on other current platforms. Technical performance also depends on which device the game is running on. Big advantage with Apple Arcade: All games do without in-game purchases, premium currency, DLCs and the like, and there is no advertising. A monthly subscription price is due, that's all, no additional costs.
Tests of particularly interesting Apple arcade games:
Apple Arcade: Spieleflat in the test
What is pleasant about Apple Arcade is the simplicity of the offer. The costs are manageable, the functionality is very easy to understand. For around five euros per month you get access to a steadily growing catalog of games that you can download, install and then (for the most part) play offline. Arcade runs on all device types from Apple (except watch) as long as they are reasonably current models. So there isn't much to think about, nothing that causes much confusion. You can't say that about the competition. The quality of the games is mixed, some titles can be classified in the junk box, for example with Sayonara Wild Hearts or What the Golf? also real hits on offer. Both titles run on other platforms, but individually cost more than a subscription to Apple Arcade for the whole month. So the question arises: Don't you better subscribe to Apple Arcade right away, play the desired titles and, on top of that, play in many other games?
The controller support is also commendable. It's just a shame that the extremely high-quality and popular Pro Controller of the Switch is not supported to this day. Nevertheless, especially when playing on the Apple TV on the big TV with an Xbox controller, there is definitely a console feeling. This is also how Apple Arcade is most fun. Gambling on the iPhone is of course nice on the go, but not necessarily particularly comfortable, especially since the touchscreen controls are suboptimal in most games. There is more fun with an iPad, with a controller also increasing the fun enormously. Apple Arcade can shine most on Mac, Macbook and TV. Either way, the offer is less aimed at "core" or "hardcore" gamers and more at casual gamers. Especially as a family with Apple preferences, where an annual subscription for around 50 euros can be shared by up to six people, Apple Arcade makes the most sense. Anyway, it's better than "classic" mobile gaming with tons of advertising, free2play rip-offs and insanely expensive premium currency. And of significantly higher quality.
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