Apple Piling On The Pressure For Apple Arcade Game Developers

As I wrote recently, Apple is altering contracts for some of its Apple Arcade developers as it focuses more and more on the need for engagement instead of throwing large numbers of games at subscribers and hoping something will stick. Apple execs have come to the conclusion that throwing money at games and building a large library of games just won't cut it. Bankrolling games for little to no return isn't a viable business model in the long term. MacRumors gives an example of the costs, saying: "Apple has funded work on many games that have been created for ‌Apple Arcade‌, spending between $1 million and $5 million on several titles so far."

What they need are players to carry on, well, playing these games day in, day out. 

The major problem Apple is facing is that none of the games in the Apple Arcade portfolio are major hits. It needs to rectify this and fast. Competition for the subscription service comes from its own app store, which offers a vast number of games (over 903,489 in 2019 according to Statista), many of which are free and made by major mobile game publishers with the marketing nous to get eyeballs (I'm looking at you,, and Supercell). 

Another significant issue is the ports of PC games on iOS. The sheer power of the iPad Pro has encouraged publishers to bring over games like GRID Autosport, Sid Meier's Civilization® VI and XCOM: Enemy Within to iOS. TouchArcade reported that the acclaimed hit Divinity: Original Sin 2 is coming to the platform, too. While competition is healthy, Apple needs to ensure their marketing is on point and different users are guided to different games. Not every iOS user will want to play AAA games on the go, for example. 

Focusing on quality than quantity

What Apple needs to do is have more games like The Chinese Room's Little Orpheus on the service. If the name doesn't ring a bell, here's the trailer to help refresh your memory:

The game was picked up by several media outlets that cover the gaming industry, including Kotaku, IGN and Eurogamer. Its metascore is currently 77, which isn't bad for a game that will be played mostly by iOS players. It was positively reviewed for the most part, which is excellent for a mobile game, and should do well as players browse Apple Arcade for the next title to soothe their twitching thumbs. 

Another title that should do well and get more of that sweet engagement Apple is looking for is Beyond A Steel Sky, the sequel to the classic Beneath A Steel Sky. The sequel has changed direction from a point and click game to a fully 3D adventure game complete with a colourful comic book style. Here's the trailer: 

A Bigger Threat On The Horizon?

Finally, I'd like to address the inevitable elephant in the room: cloud gaming. We already have services like Google's Stadia and Nvidia's GeForce Now, with Microsoft's Project xCloud looming (currently in beta). Once 5G becomes widely available, cloud gaming could prove to be a great alternative for gamers on the go. This could prove to be a major challenge to Apple Arcade - why play this when you have access to major console titles like Doom Eternal or Assassin's Creed: Odyssey? Casual gamers will still find Apple's service useful but if there are family orientated games or platformers, they might sway towards that.

If Microsoft adds Series X games to xCloud (I don't see any reason why it won't), you could, in the future, have a next gen system in your pocket. 

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