Like Xbox Game Pass before it, Apple Arcade is vying to prove that the subscription model can transform the games industry just as it has other forms of entertainment. However, unlike Game Pass, the mobile service stands to reach a far broader audience thanks to the ubiquity of the devices that carry it.
Apple Arcade is still very new, having only launched in September, but it already has 100 games in its catalogue. At a recent event in London, head of content strategy Nicola Sebastiani said he believes this is "unprecedented within platform launches." The variety of games on offer is not insignificant, again speaking to the wider audience developers can reach through smartphones (and tablets, Macs and Apple TV, as the firm kept reminding us).
This reach is "invaluable" to studios like Italian startup 34bigthings, said co-founder Guiseppe Franchi. The developer's Arcade offering, sci-fi shooter Redout: Space Assault, is a prequel to the original Redout, which mainly appealed to hardcore PC gamers. With touch screen controls, or the ability to pair your device with a controller, 34bigthings has made Space Assault more accessible in the hopes of attracting a broader range of players.
"[Apple Arcade] will ultimately benefit our gaming ecosystem and gaming as a whole. This is complementary to games on the App Store, and just one more way to play"
Nicole Sebastiani, Apple
The game was originally going to be self-published on PC and console (and will still launch on these platforms next year), but its inclusion in Apple Arcade as part of a subscription is both a "good deal" and opportunity for the studio.
Similarly, Lifelike -- the "mesmerising particle symphony" by Vienna-based indie Kunabi Brother -- is the type of game that stands a better chance of reaching people through a subscription. Based around various meditation concepts, this spiritual successor to the team's previous game Frost would have been "very risky" to release as a premium title.
"This is a very exotic and daring game concept, so Apple Arcade was the perfect game platform at the perfect time," said the studio's Julia Angerer.
Lifelike was officially produced by Apple, which means it was also at least partly funded by the electronics giant. While Kunabi Brother can't go into the specifics of the deal -- the same answer given by every developer on Arcade -- this "definitely encouraged us to take the risk to produce this."
Both Lifelike and Redout, along with most other games at the showcase, were previously planned as premium titles before their developers secured deals to launch on Apple Arcade. And Apple is also keen to offer games exclusive to the service, collaborating with more familiar names to produce them.