Apple Arcade launched yesterday, alongside iOS 13, and while I’ve only used it for a short while, I think I can say this is the kind of mobile gaming I want, now and forever.
For starters, this is a price I can actually stomach. I’m not a fan of subscription gaming, per se. But with a price as reasonable as Arcade’s ($4.99/month), and as many games as there are (i.e. more than I’ll be able to play in several months, if not a year), I don’t feel the pecuniary sting quite so keenly. Maybe it’s a byproduct of being an adult and having to balance one’s own budget, but games seem to be so expensive — three-figure consoles and every new release drains at least $60 from the bank. Granted, other game subscription services are not much more expensive — Game Pass is a palatable $9.99 — but Arcade just feels like a better bargain.
So far, I’ve only had the chance to play a few Arcade games — I can’t say with certainty that they’re all winners. But thus far, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen. I noted before Arcade’s release that the game’s revealed cover a good span of genres, and that’s only been reinforced now that I’ve seen more of the library. I’ve so far discovered jigsaw puzzles, murder mysteries, and even a delightful game called Assemble with Care, in which you restore and repair antiques and old tech. Seriously, if you have Arcade, that is one of the games you must try.
And when I play… no ads. No bugging me to pay for in-game loot or timeskips. No artificially padding the game to make me pay for extra levels, or anything like that. It isn’t until you play a good game without such things, and then go back to a game that does have them that they really start to bug you. Even in games where you don’t have to pay to advance, there’s always the little incentives to do so — I’m reminded of Hogwarts Mystery, in which your character is strangled by a plant slowly while the game tells you you can make it stop if you pay for a booster.
Part of me actually kind of wanted to find major fault with Arcade — in my experience, praise is easy, whereas honest criticism is difficult and delicate. But it’s exactly what it claims to be: a service that gives you lots of games, some of which you won’t find elsewhere. It’s not expensive for what you’re getting, and it’s so nice to be free of the constant nagging for more money. This is what I’ve wanted from mobile games, and it’s nice to finally have it.