New Apple Arcade Service Featuring No In-App Purchases Is Exactly What Mobile Gaming Needed

Apple Arcade
  • New Apple Arcade service launches Sept 19th
  • For $4.99 a month, get access to a truckload of games by amazing developers with no in-app purchases

I've been thinking a lot lately about in-app purchases and the effect they have on consumerism. Apparently, Apple has been thinking about it for longer.

We discussed some of the ramifications in a recent editorial on the effects of Gacha and in-app purchases in mobile gaming, and I have to say it's pretty cool that Apple had this up their sleeve. Because the new Apple Arcade service is almost being marketed (and actually is really appealing) for the lack of in-app purchases.

You see, the way applications in the apple store have become profitable and viable in the last few years is two-fold. 

Ad space: App developers offer ad space in their games (in a banner like you'd see on a website or in a pop up video).

In-App Purchases: App developers allow you to purchase in game currency to buy in game items.

While there's nothing inherently bad about either of these methods, in-app purchases have become more and more troublesome over time. Some game developers have realized exactly how much a player wants to get to the next level, and have realized by offering a way to shortcut that progress via reaching for their wallet, they can earn a large chunk of revenue.

It's getting to the point where staying competitive in a game means starting from the very beginning of the game's launch, and keeping up with the purchase structure that the developer offers to shortcut progress. In short, you may not need to be a whale, but you likely need to purchase something to be high in rankings. 

In short, the pool of people who are truly actually really free-to-play is dwindling. It's more and more acceptable to spend $10 once on in-app purchases in a game. We're getting to a point where spending any money at all on any game means you'd have been better off paying a flat fee for the game itself. Forget in-app purchases and ad space, pay developers up front for the download and call it a day.

So why not do that?

Unfortunately, we're also fighting an established set of behaviors. We're used to the app store being free and we want it to remain free.

Enter Apple Arcade.

Apple Arcade Subscription Model

A subscription model doesn't break our current notions of a free and open app store where you can sometimes pay for an ad-free version of an app directly. 

In fact, a subscription model is what we're accustomed to lately. 

And it's a perfect fit for the problems of spending too much or too often on in-app purchases. Because it offers a viable alternative, a way to pay developers while still having access to a wide library of games that you may only play for a short period of time. 

That's the fear, after all. Paying a developer 3.99 or 4.99 for a game and then realizing the game only holds your interest for a day. But a subscription model with a library of games doesn't hold that same feeling. It's a pretty smart idea -- so long as the games are strong.

And Apple invested to make sure that would happen. It brought in some pretty huge developers. Bandai-Namco, Gameloft, Sega, Devlover, Blowfish, Ubisoft, Cartoon Network, the list goes on. They made sure they'd have a strong opening offering of games, and they even decided to offer the first month for free.

Every game, offered for free (with subscription), and with no in-app purchases. It's pretty brilliant.

So what kind of games exactly are being offered? While we don't have the whole list yet, we've got a list so far. Below is the list from the press release that Apple put out yesterday with some images to boot. Exciting stuff.

Games on Apple Arcade So Far

  • Ballistic Baseball” from Gameloft, is an action-packed arcade baseball game that captures the intense battle between pitcher and batter in live head-to-head multiplayer matches.
Ballistic Baseball
  • ChuChu Rocket! Universe” explodes as Sega launches the beloved ChuChus into a universe of strange and wonderful planets with over 100 mind-bending puzzles.
Chu-Chu Rocket
  • In “Exit the Gungeon” from Devolver, players must escape a collapsing hell dungeon as increasingly perilous obstacles and opponents stand in their way.
Exit The Gungeon
    • Overland” from Finji, is a post-apocalyptic road trip adventure where players fight dangerous creatures, rescue stranded travelers and scavenge for supplies to survive.
      • PAC-MAN PARTY ROYALE” from Bandai Namco, is a brand-new arcade experience featuring a four-player Battle Mode where the last PAC-MAN standing wins.
      • In “Projection: First Light” from Blowfish, players follow the adventures of Greta, a girl living in a mythological shadow puppet world as she embarks on a journey of self-enlightenment, helped by legendary heroes from ancient cultures along the way.
      Projection First Light
        • In “Rayman Mini” from Ubisoft, Rayman has been reduced to the size of an ant! Players use insects, mushrooms and plants to run through the world as quickly as possible or try over and over again to achieve the perfect score.
        Rayman Mini
          • In “Shantae and the Seven Sirens” from WayForward, players explore a vast sunken city and battle the Seven Sirens in the Half-Genie’s most thrilling adventure yet.
            • Skate City”, developed by Agens and published by Snowman, brings the heart and soul of street skating to life with multi-touch controls as city streets become the ultimate skater playground.
            Skate City
              • In “Sneaky Sasquatch” from RAC7, players live the life of a Sasquatch and do regular, everyday Sasquatch stuff like sneaking around in disguise, raiding coolers and picnic baskets, playing golf and more.
              Sneaky Sasquatch
                • Steven Universe: Unleash the Light,” is an original Cartoon Network game, co-written by Rebecca Sugar, where players pick their favorite characters, choose which Gems are in their party, unlock awesome new abilities and equip alternate costumes in the ultimate mobile role-playing game (RPG).
                Steven Universe
                  • Super Impossible Road” from Rogue Games, is a futuristic, high-speed racing game where players master hairpin turns on courses that twist and coil over beautiful galactic backdrops.
                  Super Impossible Race
                    • The Bradwell Conspiracy” from Bossa, is a beautifully stylized conspiracy adventure thriller with a humorous twist.
                    The Bradwell Conspiracy
                      • In “The Enchanted World” from Noodlecake, players help a young fairy piece together a magical world torn apart by dark forces.
                      The Enchanted World
                        • Various Daylife” from Square Enix, is a brand-new RPG from the creators of “Bravely Default” and “Octopath Traveler.” In the year 211 of the Imperial Era, players explore a newly discovered continent while living life to the fullest in the city of Erebia.
                        Various Daylife

                        Concluding Thoughts

                        There's a lot to be excited about with Apple Arcade. 

                        Getting access to a full suite of games for a monthly subscription of $4.99 is a great way to ensure developers get paid (which they should) for their hard work, and users get to play a bunch of full-version games without worrying about paywalls that might stop their progression until they get out their wallets.

                        It's a clever plan, and we can't wait to try it out!


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