At long last, Apple’s getting into the games.
This is more Xbox Game Pass than Stadia, an important distinction. Subscribers get access to a library of “more than 100” games, a curated list that’s meant to be highlighted by an abundance of exclusive titles.
This isn’t a streaming service, it’s important to note. Where Google’s newly announced Stadia aims to offload the need for expensive hardware into remote data centers, Apple’s approach is still bound to certain, unspecified devices in the mobile and desktop spaces. Games are downloaded rather than streamed.
While many of the details remain unclear — we don’t know price or launch date, beyond a vague “fall 2019” promise — the big surprise of Apple’s reveal was a focus on the games themselves. For one, the company is teaming up with a whole mess of major publishing interests.
But there’s more to the excitement around Arcade than that. Historically, Apple has maintained a relatively hands-off approach to investments in gaming. The first iPhone essentially kicked mobile gaming up to a new level of popularity, but Apple has largely been content to allow the App Store to serve third-party creators.
The App Store has come a long way since those early days, and Apple’s addition of an editorial team has increased the value of browsing through the store and using the recommendations there to discover new titles. But now, with Apple Arcade, the company appears to be actually investing in the development of games directly.
One video highlighted “console quality” games like Beyond a Steel Sky, which looks like some kind of open world-ish sci-fi adventure featuring art from Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons. Another, Fantasian, comes from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, presumably through his studio, Mistwalker.
As with most things in video games, images tell the tale better than words. Check out this handful of first looks at some of Apple Arcade’s exclusives.
A second trailer takes a look at an even wider range of games, though this one is shorter and the looks are far less detailed:
It’s exciting stuff, but unfortunately all we know for now. Stay tuned for pricing and catalog details as that fall 2019 launch gets closer. We’ll be watching this one closely.