Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade is a video game subscription service offered by Apple Inc. It is available through a dedicated tab of the App Store on devices running iOS 13, tvOS 13, iPadOS 13, and macOS Catalina or later.[1][2] The service launched on September 19, 2019.[3]

Apple Arcade
DeveloperApple Inc.
TypeVideo game subscription service
Launch dateSeptember 19, 2019
Platform(s)iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac, Apple TV
Operating system(s)iOS 13 or later, iPadOS 13 or later, macOS Catalina or later, tvOS 13 or later
Pricing modelUS$4.99 per month or US$49.99 annually
WebsiteApple Arcade

It offers uninterrupted, unintrusive experiences by excluding practices commonly associated with popular, primarily free-to-play, mobile games such as in-app purchases and advertisements.[4]


All games available on the service are free of advertisements, in-app purchases, data tracking processes, and always-on DRM, meaning games can be played offline and without interruptions.[2] Subscribers can share access with up to five others through family sharing and the service can also be purchased through the Apple One bundle. Both standalone subscriptions and the Apple One bundle provide a free one-month trial and can be cancelled at any time.

Games on the service feature integration with Game Center and iCloud, allowing games to implement social features such as achievements and leaderboards, and to carry data between devices when linked to the same iCloud account. In addition to Apple's own products, many games are compatible with third-party controllers such as the DualShock 4, DualSense and Xbox Wireless Controller,[1] with support for Joy-Con and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller added with the release of iOS 16.[5] By extension, controllers modeled after classic Nintendo and Sega gamepads for use with Nintendo Switch Online are also supported with iOS 16.[6]


Apple Arcade was announced in March 2019 at an Apple Event showcasing their various upcoming services. It launched in September 2019 with 71 games, with Apple stating that the number would grow to over 100 by 2020.[7] The apps support a minimum of 14 languages and can be accessed in over 150 countries.[7] Launch titles included Sneaky Sasquatch, What the Golf, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Rayman Mini, Exit the Gungeon, and Lego Brawls.[8]

Noted publishers and developers that have partnered with Apple to create Arcade games include Capcom, Sega, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Konami, and Annapurna Interactive.[3] Developers cannot release their Apple Arcade games on other mobile platforms due to exclusivity agreements, but are allowed to offer their games on console or PC. Apple does not share game performance metrics with developers, only revealing whether the game has been accepted onto the Apple Arcade platform.[9]

There are several categories within the platform that group together similar games based on their premise, genre, level of difficulty and more. Some categories include “adventure”, “puzzle”, and “education”.[2] There is also a category called “daily play suggestions”, which offers a curated selection of games based on the consumer's download and gameplay history.[2]

In June 2020, Bloomberg reported that Apple ended its contract with some future Arcade titles and shifted its strategy to seek games with stronger engagement to retain subscribers. It was further noted that Apple invited former Arcade partners to return and develop titles that would fit Apple's new strategy.[10]

On April 2, 2021,[11][12] Apple surprise-released a number of new games and announced that they would be bringing "Timeless Classics" and "App Store Greats" to the service. These are versions of preexisting popular games already available on the App Store which have had their in-app purchases and advertisements removed, denoted by a "+" at the end of the application name. Notable games added to the service include Fruit Ninja Classic+, Monument Valley+, and Threes!+.[13] Unlike titles developed exclusively for Apple Arcade, these games are only available for iOS and iPadOS devices.

On May 31st, 2022, creator of the classic Shoot 'em up Space Harrier; Yu Suzuki announced an original arcade style rail shooting game Air Twister exclusively for Apple Arcade.[14] In September 2022, Horizon Chase 2, the sequel of the award-winning retro racing game Horizon Chase, was released exclusively on the platform.[15]


In 2018, premium games on the App Store generated US$476 million while free-to-play games produced US$21.3 billion in revenue.[9] Also, the number of premium apps available on the App Store fell from 21.6% of total App Store games in 2014 to 9.3% in 2018.[9] Some analysts argue that this is a contributing factor to the development and founding of Apple Arcade, with the economic perspective that consumers will be more incentivized to pay a subscription fee to access a range of premium apps rather than purchasing individual premium games.[16] Others have argued that Apple Arcade is another source of revenue for Apple and enables them to compete with other video-game subscription services like Google Play Pass and Xbox Game Pass.[3]

Apple spent $500 million to launch Apple Arcade. Apple pays app developers an upfront fee to create video-games for the platform and corresponds with some developers in the development process.[9]

See also

  • Google Play Pass
  • Xbox Game Pass
  • GameClub


  1. Biggs, Tim (September 20, 2019). "Apple Arcade: how to jump in and start playing". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  2. Needleman, Sarah E. (September 10, 2019). "Apple Wants Gamers to Hit 'Subscribe' With Apple Arcade". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  3. Conway, Steven (September 17, 2019). "Apple and Google to offer frictionless gaming, if your NBN plan can handle it". Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  4. Tenbusch, Andrew (March 20, 2020). "Free-to-Play Mobile Gaming: Why F2P is So Popular Among Gamers". Medium. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  5. Warren, Tom (June 7, 2022). "iOS 16 supports Nintendo's Switch Pro and Joy-Con controllers". The Verge. Retrieved October 12, 2022.
  6. Voorhees, John (October 26, 2022). "Apple Adds Nintendo Online Classic Controller Support to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV". MacStories. Retrieved October 26, 2022.
  7. Knowlton, Thomas (2020). "Apple arcade gives educators choices: The subscription service allows many game options for a relatively low price". School Library Journal. 60 (3): 30.
  8. Khan, Imran (September 19, 2019). "A Comprehensive List Of Apple Arcade Launch Games". IGN. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  9. Guadiana, Gerardo (2020). A Netflix experience : reimagining the direct-to-consumer platform (Thesis thesis). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. hdl:1721.1/126900.
  10. Gurman, Mark; Schreier, Jason (June 30, 2020). "Apple Cancels Some Arcade Games in Strategy Shift To Keep Subscribers". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on June 30, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  11. "Apple Arcade expands its award-winning catalog to more than 180 games". Apple Newsroom (Press release). April 2, 2021. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  12. "Apple Arcade Pro Release Date announced". Mobilekoto (Tech Blog). Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  13. Hector, Hamish; Lumb, David (July 1, 2021). "Huge Apple Arcade update: classic games and all-new must-plays join the service". TechRadar. Retrieved July 11, 2022.
  14. Hilliard, Kyle (May 31, 2022). "Shenmue Creator Announces Air Twister For Apple Arcade". Gamespot. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
  15. "Horizon Chase 2 announced for consoles, PC, and Apple Arcade". Gematsu. August 30, 2022. Retrieved September 26, 2022.
  16. Carroni, Elias; Madio, Leonardo; Shekhar, Shiva (2018). "Superstars in Two-Sided Markets: Exclusives or Not?". SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.3243777. ISSN 1556-5068. S2CID 169180632.
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