Apple Arcade Thoughts

So I waited to get iPadOS installed before trying out Apple Arcade. I think the games are on the whole beautiful. There seem to be some design steers from Apple; many games launch directly into gameplay rather than a start screen which isn’t common on PC or consoles so feels like it’s part of Apple’s specifications.

I love the push for non-IAP hamster wheel gaming, but for me I still can’t get past the poor experience of touch screen controls. While I know there’s great controller support now, that’s not always convenient and presents its own difficulties (I can’t hold an iPad and a controller at the same time). At present I don’t see myself maintaining a subscription because I can’t pass the hurdle of gaming on iOS feeling awkward and frustrating.

I’m curious if you’ve been making use of your one month free trial, and what you think?

1 Like

We’re loving it (family of 4).

I think the issue of controls varies based on the type of game as well as the user. I found some of the games like Stranded Sails quite fussy on my iPhone X. Sayonara Wild Hearts was better. On my iPad games like Overland seemed to work fine as well as Stranded Sails genre. My pre-teen son had a great time playing LEGO Brawls on his (small) iPad. No control complaints.

I am hoping they add more genres pretty quickly. I think there are some (e.g. word games) that are well suited to smaller devices with less responsive controls and well suited for casual play.

I’ve downloaded Oceanhorn 2 on our Apple TV and paired a PS4 controller but haven’t played it yet. One issue I have on the Apple TV is it is very difficult to switch users (manually log out of Game Center and log in as another family member). Hopefully that add multi-user support to Game Center quickly.

One thing I’ve found is with over 100+ games for free it’s hard to decide which one to settle in with.

1 Like

I just love it. This kind of polished controller support on iOS is what I’ve been wanting forever. Now they just need to add multiple controller support for iPad and local MP.

There are some games that are better with touch than controller, though, like Dear Reader, Red Reign, and Chu Chu Rocket, just because it’s a more natural way to interact with the elements.

Mario Kart Tour came out this week. It’s very well done but is full of gross IAP mechanics that limit the fun. I am so happy with Apple paying all these developers so they don’t have to do any of that. Hopefully Arcade will become successful enough that they lure in a company like Nintendo that has nine figure expectations for their games.

It’s actually more accurate in some ways to think of Apple Arcade as a virtual games console than a subscription service in the style of Spotify. Apple are operating more like traditional publishers, and are paying up front by all accounts.

I think the concept is excellent and I’m super hopeful it will be a success. I think I’m just more likely to buy Overland for the switch than I am to maintain an Arcade subscription in order to play it.

Ah, yes, I don’t have a Switch and I see Arcade as directly competitive. I saw you can buy Sayonara Wild Hearts for $12 on there. That’s $7 more if it’s the reason I keep Arcade for a month, but probably an even better experience unless it drops frames or something—and then you have it forever, too.

Bumping this thread rather than creating a new one.

I’m curious what readers’ impressions of Arcade is now that several months have past since launch.

I like Arcade so far mainly because it was cheaper than what I assume buying the apps Arcade that I like would have cost me. But I ignore most of the games – not meaning to disparage anyone, but the bulk of the inventory seems targeted at pre-teens.

Any thoughts?


I didn’t find any games that I liked enough to play for more than 20 minutes. The flagship game Frogger was unplayable for me. It would load, but the text on the screen was missing and the initial screens didn’t work. I had to re-watch the intro movie every time I started it, and then nothing. For my tastes the PS Now service (think of it as netflix for legacy Sony PlayStation games) at $60/year is a much better value. That is providing you have a PS4, since they discontinued PS3/PS Vita support.

It’s been good for me. The primary way I play is iPad Pro with a controller (except for Dear Reader, which I prefer on my phone with touch.) I’d say I’m interested in about a quarter of the games, including simpler ones if the gameplay is designed well and fast. I subscribe intermittently and I think the cost will end up being something like $20-25/year for me.

Most of my other game playing is turn-based/real-time strategy or full-fledged shooters (Doom 2016, Overload) on PC, so it’s nice to have a complementary portable platform.

I’m curious what device had that issue. Frogger was miserable on touch but hit the right intensity level with a controller.

Every device I tried. iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPad Mini 4, and iPad Pro.

I am a bit underwhelmed, and will not subscribe after the free trial ends. I mainly like slow paced puzzlers like The Room series and Monument Valley and have not found much to keep my attention.

As a game developper in the AAA space, where a lot of key players are moving to subscription models, it was pretty interesting to see Apple go that way but for what feels like a arthouse curation of games. From the excellent Guildlings to the aforementioned Sayonara Wild Hearts or The Get Out Kids, there are a lot of games in here with a definitely indie sensibility, occupying a lot of the limited space covered by Arcade. I’m wondering whether that’s a stance from Apple, but it’s an interesting angle, while most other offers of the sort focus on the fact you can get the latest big release through their subscription service.

As for my own appreciation, having a taste for this sort of games, I’m of course happy with it, using mostly a PS4 contoller and having no trouble that way. On iPhone, I only play games that feel natural to the device, such as Guildlings or ChuChu Rocket (the one game that really pushed me over the fence, as a fan of the original on Dreamcast) which work perfectly with touch.
I’d be concerned only over the long term plan. Being a subscription, I expect the service to have a constant stream of content of consistent quality. That’s down to how happy developers end up being. I don’t really know how that works out for them, and if it’s a quality-driven service, they’ll need to keep top-developers interested. I also understand games will “rotate”, meaning they will come and go on Arcade. I guess you could still find a former Arcade game in the regular store, but then, what’s the model? Do I get access to it? If not, do I have a discount as an Arcade subscriber?
I’m cautiously optimistic, but they’ve set the bar pretty high for a release, and I’m curious as to how / whether they’ll keep it that high.


Thank you for your thoughts @Pixoshiru. I’ve wondered about the how the inventory of games will evolve over time. How many will Apple include in the subscription, how will Apple cull games (perhaps tracking usage with Game Center), etc. Time will tell.


1 Like

I cancelled early on. Some of the games seemed fun at the start but ran out of steam early on. I have toyed with looking at it again. I am not much of a gamer. I even stopped playing Angry Birds.