Apple is reportedly spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” to secure new exclusive games for its forthcoming subscription service, dubbed Arcade.

Several people involved in the project’s development told The Financial Times that Apple is spending several million dollars each on most of the more than 100 games that have been selected to launch on Arcade, with its total budget likely to exceed $500 million.

Just to give you some context, that sum compares with the $1 billion that Apple was said in 2017 to have budgeted for original content for its upcoming video-streaming service (though analysts believe that Apple’s video spending has already exceeded that level).

From the write-up:

The substantial outlay to developers shows how seriously Apple is taking games as a new source of subscription revenues, despite the public paying more attention to its star-studded push into television and news.

It also reflects the increasing competition in Silicon Valley for exclusive rights to the best content, as the iPhone maker bids against other new games platforms from Google and Tencent, as well as the console makers Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

The article goes on to argue that, aside from benefiting its services business, Arcade could help Apple win back the advantage in games that it used to hold over Google Play. 

For many years after the original App Store launched, mobile games would debut on iPhones in order to reach Apple’s higher-spending customers. Developers also hoped they would be rewarded by Apple for prioritizing its devices with prominent placement in the App Store’s marketing. Today, Android’s much larger share of the global smartphone market means that big developers typically launch their titles on both stores simultaneously.

Well, that is true for cross-platform titles and the kinds of free-to-play games such as Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans or Fortnite that you would find on any decent platform.

“Arcade” will be a new tab in App Store on iOS, tvOS and macOS

But if we’re talking about premium games that cost money to download, the kinds of experiences that don’t rely on advertising and in-app purchases, then Apple’s store holds clear advantage in terms of quality and quantity of such content over Google’s platform.

Games are responsible for approximately three-quarters of the total App Store revenue and it’s been like that since day one. As much as it popularized handheld gaming with its iOS device, Apple has failed to turn Apple TV into a console for the living room.

Despite fairly strong hardware and promising early releases, the set-top box never realized its true potential as a casual gaming console because Apple just didn’t care enough about gaming at that pint. Case in point: Apple TV games to this date are not required to support MFi controllers, and the same goes for the titles included in Apple Arcade.

One of the titles in Apple Arcade is Oceanhorn 2

Billed as “a gaming service unlike any other,” Apple Arcade promises to give mobile gaming fans unrestricted access to more than a hundred top new and exclusive games designed by some of the most successful App Store developers.

“Paid games are often critically acclaimed and beloved by the people who play them, but competing with free is hard, so even the best of these games have only reached a smaller audience,” Apple said as it announced Arcade.

The company isn’t just handpicking the titles in the Arcade subscription, but also contributing to the development costs and working closely with creators to bring the games to life.

These titles contain no advertising, include no in-app purchases whatsoever and sync your progress and other data between devices through iCloud. Promotional materials suggest that most of the titles included in your subscription will support iOS, tvOS and macOS, allowing players to enjoy them across their iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV.

Every game is playable offline and provides access to the full experience, including all game features, content and future updates, meaning no additional purchases will be required. Apple says these games will not be available on any other mobile platform or in any other subscription service. New titles will be added to Apple Arcade on a regular basis.

All of the titles included in Arcade will be available standalone on App Store. And therein lies the service’s true vale—rather than pay upfront for each title, a subscription will let you try the full experience in any game included in Arcade without risk.

As we get closer to Apple Arcade’s fall launch in more than 150 countries, we should learn more about pricing and other terms of the service.

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