APPLE has revealed Apple Arcade, a new subscription service that lets you play as many games as you like, as much as you like.
It’s a curated collection of indie games that work on your phones, tablets and desktop.
It’s not Apple’s answer to Google Stadia, but more a Netflix-like service where you’ll get access to an ever-changing library of games in exchange for a monthly fee.It looks set to be dominated by smaller independent developers rather than blockbuster games, and will launch with over 100 exclusive games.
Apple has confirmed that all the games will be downloadable, and playable offline.
Developers working with Apple include Britain’s Revolution Software with Beyond A Steel Sky, their follow-up to Beneath A Steel Sky — exclusively revealed by Sun Online last year.
Lego, Sega, Platinum Games and Devolver Digital are some of those on board, although larger studios and publishers are not — so don’t expect to see Minecraft, Fifa or Call of Duty on there.
Apple also revealed they will have games from Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Cartoon Network, Finji, Giant Squid, Klei Entertainment, Konami, Mistwalker Corporation, Snowman, ustwo games and many more.
The games on Apple Arcade won’t be part of any other subscription service, or available to play on other phones.
That does leave the door open for standalone PC releases, however.
The UK pricing and release date hasn’t been revealed, but it is promised to arrive by the Autumn.
This means that rather than the likes of Fortnite, Candy Crush Friends or Pokémon Go, they will be self-contained story-driven games that have previously struggled to find success on mobile.
Many big game companies have stepped away from making these sorts of games because of the success of the free-to-play business model and the reticence of mobile gamers to pay more than pennies for any one game, no matter how big or complex it was.
Playing to pay
Research last year found that three in every four pounds spent on Apple’s App Store are spent on games, accounting for around £25 billion in revenue in 2017 alone.
As Apple take a cut of roughly 30 per cent of all money spent through the app store, that represents around £8.3bn in revenue for the company.
By comparison, Sony’s games unit had an income £13.5 billion for the same period, which includes sales of consoles as well as software.
About 70 per cent of apps released on the App Store are games, though this is down from a high of around 90 per cent a few years ago.
The rise of smartphone gaming has killed off the dedicated mobile console market, with Sony discontinuing the Vita and Nintendo having no plans to replace the aging 3DS handheld.
Meanwhile, an update to the iPod Touch trademark filed earlier this month, means that it now covers “hand-held units for playing electronic games” and “Handheld game consoles”.
The iPod touch has always been able to play iOS games, so it doesn’t technically require any more functionality to be a games console–but a trademark change from earlier this month could indicate this is going to become a focus for it.
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It is unclear if this is just a defensive measure by Apple, given it has always been able to play games, or an indication of what’s to come in the next update.
However, the iPod Touch hardware hasn’t been updated since 2015, while the iPhone which it is based on has been significantly updated three times since then.
The current iPhone’s processor is more than twice as fast as the current iPod Touch, while its screen displays images at almost four times the resolution.
These factors mean that while the current iPod Touch should be able to play any game that works on and iPhone, they won’t look as good and some more modern games may well struggle to run on the aging hardware.
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