Apple Arcade

 
 

Apple have shared launch details for Apple Arcade. The game subscription service will bring a curated catalogue of diverse game experiences to iOS devices, Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K and Macs. The service has been shrouded in mystery since its unveil in March leaving our thumbs and forefingers to twitch with anticipation.

During the company’s keynote address at the Steve Jobs Theatre, Apple announced that Arcade would be available as part of each platforms forthcoming updates. Apple Arcade will initially launch on iOS devices on September 19th with tvOS and iPadOS following on September 30th and Mac OS Catalina scheduled for release in October. The subscription service tackles issues that have plagued the gaming industry and the App Store in recent times, offering complete gaming experiences free of advertising, add-ons and In App Purchases. 

Arcade will launch with a one month free trial, costing $4.99 per month for access to over 100 gaming experiences, exclusive to the service. Subscribers will be able to download any game from Arcade’s vast catalogue via its dedicated tab on the App Store, making every game available for offline play while forgoing the need for a persistent internet connection. In line with Apple’s other subscription services, Arcade subscribers can share their subscription with up to six family members through Apple’s Family Sharing feature, syncing progress between devices to each users Game Centre profile through iCloud.

Phil Schiller spoke of his excitement for Apple Arcade through Apple’s press release:

“We are so excited to launch Apple Arcade on the App Store. A curated selection of over 100 new and exclusive games from many of the most innovative game developers in the world is the perfect complement to the App Store’s existing massive catalog of games,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We think customers of all ages are going to be delighted that a single subscription gives the whole family unlimited access to the full catalog of amazing Apple Arcade games, all without any ads or additional purchases, while knowing every game must meet Apple’s high privacy standards.”

With many subscription services choice can often be a burden. To help, the dedicated Arcade tab will offer up personalised user recommendations along with trailers, sneak peaks, guides and editorials, expanding upon the App Store experience we know today. The hope is that this leads to better discoverability of new experiences along with recommendations better-suited to users favoured styles of play. 

Apple’s Ann My Thai took to the stage to detail Apple Arcade which will launch with the largest catalogue of games seen from a games subscription service launch.

Games confirmed by Apple to debut in time for Apple Arcade’s iOS launch on September 19th include:

Ballistic Baseball, ChuChu Rocket! Universe, Exit the Gungeon, Overland, PAC-MAN PARTY ROYALE, Projection: First Light, Rayman Mini, Shantae and the Seven Sirens, Skate City, Sneaky Sasquatch, Steven Universe: Unleash the Light, Super Impossible Road, The Bradwell Conspiracy, The Enchanted World and Various Daylife.

More games are expected to be added on a weekly basis with highly anticipated titles including Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm – from Cornfox & Bros – arriving in the coming weeks as creative developers around the globe finalise their games for the service following years of dedicated craft. 

Apple’s embrace of artistic expression extends to another important art-form. Often put-down and purposefully misunderstood, gaming has had an overwhelmingly positive influence on our culture for decades. Once purely a means of escapism, it has transformed into much more than that. Offering diverse, inclusive storytelling and new ways to play.

Apple Arcade looks like the perfect platform to show off the very best of gaming and the perfect opportunity for people like me to dive back in. Put off by a big chunk of the games industry in recent years due to the predatory practices of some publishers, the promise of a safe place to play is what sets Apple Arcade apart from the crowd. My only wish is that the projected success of the service leads Apple to continue to optimise game performance across tvOS, iOS and iPadOS with a much needed re-focus on Mac.

 
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The Shantae series of games originally debuted on Nintendo’s Game Boy Color way back in 2002. Set in the fictional world of Sequin Land, the franchise has seen Shantae – a half-genie heroine – serve as the guardian of Scuttle Town.

Shantae and the Seven Sirens will be the second outing for Shantae on Apple platforms following 2011’s Shantae: Risky’s Revenge.

Apple Arcade subscribers will be able to play Shantae and the Seven Sirens on Apple TV, iPhone, iPad and Mac when the service launches later this year.

WayForward revealed new information about the Apple Arcade title earlier today:

Formerly referred to as Shantae 5, ‘Shantae and the Seven Sirens’ sends the belly-dancing, hair-whipping, half-genie hero to a tropical island where Shantae and her friends encounter other Half-Genie allies, but they soon learn there’s trouble in paradise.

As Shantae gets caught up in the island’s sinister secrets, she’ll use all-new dance abilities and instant-transformation Fusion Magic to explore the nonlinear, interconnected world where she’ll visit multiple towns, overcome treacherous labyrinths, and battle dastardly bosses. The game also features a new collectible card system that grants players the freedom to augment Shantae’s powers to suit their own style of play.

Key Features:

  • Explore an interconnected world using new Fusion Magic creature transformations, including a newt and other aquatic forms!
  • 4K-resolution hand-painted visuals (on 4K devices only)!
  • All-new characters and returning favorites like Rottytops, Sky, Bolo, and the nefarious Risky Boots!
  • Collect and power up with monster cards!
  • Enjoy minigames, acquire magic and items, and uncover secrets!
  • Gorgeously animated TV-style cutscenes!
 
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Following four years on Valves VR team, Xbox co-creator Nat Brown shared the news that he had started work at Apple this week. It’s not clear just yet what specific graphic applications Nat Brown has been hired for. With the news coming just months before the launch of Apple Arcade, many are speculating his new role is related to the upcoming service.

In a blog post from 2013 titled ‘Stupid Stupid xBox’ Nat Brown was buoyant on the future gaming prospects of the Apple TV. He predicted the rise of Apple compared to xBox, PlayStation and Nintendo as Apples platforms embraced third party apps in an era where the gaming heavyweights weren’t so interested in indie game developers.

“Apple is already a games competitor broadly, even if Apple-TV isn’t yet a game platform or a console. Mobile generally and iPad specifically have grown the total hours of game play and grown the overall game market. Only in the last 18-24mo has that overall growth turned from a segment-expanding rising tide to a tsunami swamping the console game vendor profit boats hitched to the docks. It is accelerating. Apple, if it chooses to do so, will simply kill Playstation, Wii-U and xBox by introducing an open 30%-cut app/game ecosystem for Apple-TV. I already make a lot of money on iOS – I will be the first to write apps for Apple-TV when I can, and I know I’ll make money. I would for xBox if I could and I knew I would make money.  Maybe a “console-capable” Apple-TV isn’t $99, maybe it’s $199, and add another $79 for a controller. The current numbers already say a lot, even with Apple-TV not already an open console: 5.3M sold units in 2012, 90% year-over-year growth — vs. xBox 360 — about 9M units in 2012, 60% YoY decline”.
Check out the full Twitter thread from Nat Browns announcement below.

Apple Arcade is a subscription service launching on iOS, tvOS and Mac OS this Fall. Screen Times wishes Nat Brown all the best in his new role.