Apple Arcade — everything you need to know

(Image credit: Apple)

Game subscription services are all the rage, providing gamers access to large catalogs of titles for a flat fee. Microsoft’s Game Pass and Sony’s PlayStation Now have had success on consoles, but Apple has been idly sitting wayside, missing out on the action from the largest group of players: mobile gamers. 

This fall will change that when Apple Arcade, a first party game subscription service arrives with iOS 13. Here’s everything we know about it so far.

(Image credit: 9to5Mac)

What is Apple Arcade?

Apple Arcade is a subscription-based game service that is launching across the company’s entire line of devices in Fall 2019. The service will allow users to access over 100 games made by some of the industry’s greatest creators, whether users are on an Apple TV, iPad, iPhone or Mac

The lineup is hand curated and will forego ads, microtransactions, and ad trackers. The initiative is mutually beneficial for Apple and developers, who will receive development funding and Apple support. The service at launch will have no mobile game subscriptions to compete with directly but may see strong competition from its biggest rival the Google Play Store, with the rumored Google Play Store Pass.

Apple Arcade release date and price

At its iPhone event, Apple revealed that Apple Arcade is slated for September 19.

Apple confirmed that Apple Arcade will cost $4.99 per month, and the company also stated that the service will offer a one-month free trial. 

As Apple previously announced, the service will allow access to all members in a Family Sharing account. Apple has been known to offer student discounts on its subscription rates, so mobile gamers enrolled in college can pay less attention to their lecture and explore more virtual worlds.

Apple Arcade games: the lineup so far

In order to differentiate itself from other potential Arcade streaming platforms, Apple has signed exclusivity with record breaking game designers such as Will Wright, Hironobu Sakaguchi and Ken Wong. 

The service will offer games competitors can not like the highly anticipated Beyond A Steel Sky, a sequel to 1994’s Beneath A Steel Sky. Just a few of the titles include: Where Cards Fall, The Pathless, LEGO Brawls, Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, and Sonic Racing. In the past few months, the service has released videos featuring popular mobile developers including Charles Cecil and Bekah Saltsman, discussing the service and how it helps creators.

At its event, Apple revealed three more games: Konami's Frogger in Toy Town, Capcom's Shinsekai Into The Depths and Annapurna Interactive's Sayonara Wild Hearts. Frogger is -- well, Frogger, just in a toy town that's reminiscent of a play area in Toy Story. Shinsekai Into The Depths is basically a underwater adventure shooter game that pits you against monsters. Finally, Sayonara Wild Hearts is like a 3D Temple Run on crack. I'm excited the most for this because the visuals were just out of this world, especially for a mobile game, but it makes sense since it was made for the Nintendo Switch.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Arcade features

Boasting over 100 exclusive games, cross-platform versatility and offline play, Apple Arcade’s subscription plan is an enticing offer for mobile gamers. 

Instead of buying and owning each individual application, subscribers will pay a monthly fee to play as much as they desire. While every game on the service can be downloaded for offline play, it is important to note that users do not own the titles from the Apple Arcade catalogue. Once a membership lapses, so does access to any of the games from Apple Arcade.

Subscribers who own multiple Apple devices can start a game on one system, then jump back in on another. For example, you can start a new game of Sonic Racing on your iPhone, pick it up on your Mac for a bigger display on the go and finish the game on your Apple TV at home. The discovery system will curate games based on their originality, quality and most importantly: fun. 

Apple Arcade platforms: where you can play

(Image credit: Apple)

Launching exclusively for the Apple ecosystem, the service will be available for; Apple TV, iPad, iPhone and Mac users in over 150 countries. Subscribers will simply access the platform through its tab on their device’s App Store.

Apple Arcade is a service that plans to continue improving post-launch with more content and improved usability. Part of Apple’s shift to a focus on providing services, this is a new segment of a greater portfolio of products to come from the company. With Apple TV Plus on the horizon, we’re excited to see what other steps the tech giant takes to expand its portfolio. 

Hunter Fenollol
Senior Editor, Smart Home

Hunter Fenollol is a Senior Editor for Tom’s Guide. He specializes in smart home gadgets and appliances. Prior to joining the team, Hunter reviewed computers, wearables, and mixed reality gear for publications that include CNN Underscored, Popular Mechanics, and Laptop Magazine. When he’s not testing out the latest cooking gadgets, you can likely find him playing a round of golf or out with friends feeding his paycheck to a QuickHit slot machine. Hunter started his career as an intern at Tom’s Guide back in 2019 while in college. He graduated from Long Island University Post with a degree in Communications and minor in Advertising. He has been vlogging ever since the iPhone 4 took front-facing cameras mainstream.