Apple Arcade makes a serious play for your gaming dollar

Apple Arcade makes a serious play for your gaming dollar


Apple Arcade is closing in on 200 games.
Apple Arcade includes 180 titles at a cost lower than what the average American spends on iPhone games.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

Hey, iPhone gamer, save yourself some money: Subscribe to Apple Arcade. A recent study showed that the average American spends way more on games every year than the annual cost of Apple’s $4.99-a-month gaming service.

Plus, the deal just got a lot better. Almost a dozen original games debuted on Apple Arcade last Friday, and the service added a bunch of classic ones as well. After launching with just a few dozen games in 2019, Apple Arcade is now closing in on 200 really great titles.

Apple Arcade is loaded with great games

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the games in Apple Arcade are rejects that joined up with Apple out of desperation. The service delivers exclusive access to top-tier games, without ads or other annoyances.

For example, the only way to play the just-launched Star Trek: Legends is on Apple Arcade. It’s a big enough deal that covered the release, even though it’s only for Apple devices.

And that’s just one of the titles that debuted Friday. There are plenty more. NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition puts you in the the shoes of your favorite basketball stars. And the man behind the classic Final Fantasy series just brought an intriguing-looking RPG called Fantasian to Apple Arcade.

That’s on top of other great titles already offered by the service. Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time offers an amazing hack-and-slash adventure. Spire Blast is a block-breaking game that’s surprisingly addictive. Sneaky Sasquatch has drawn in legions of fans. Sports fans can enjoy Ballistic Baseball or Charrua Soccer.

If you prefer something more old-school, Apple Arcade recently added backgammon, sudoku and crossword puzzles. And some classic App Store games recently moved into Apple’s gaming service, too. If you’ve always wanted to play the award-winning Monument Valley, for instance, you can explore its wonders thanks to your Apple Arcade subscription.

All these suggestions barely scratch the surface. Apple Arcade currently houses 180 games, all ready to play. And Apple adds more games almost every Friday.

Save money with Apple Arcade

The usual objection to Apple Arcade is that it costs $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year, while the App Store is full of free games.

It’s really not that simple, though. The average American spent $76.80 on iPhone games during 2020, according to the latest numbers from market research firm Sensor Tower.

A lot of that money went into “free” games. Fortnite is called a free-to-play title, yet it earned Epic Games $1.8 billion in 2019. That’s because it’s full of in-app purchases. And it’s not just Fortnite. The top-grossing iOS games are all “free.”

If you’re one of the many people dumping lots of money into “free” games, you can get your spending under control by subscribing to Apple Arcade. There are no in-app purchases or sneaky loot boxes allowed on Apple’s subscription gaming service. You’ll never get suckered into paying real-world money for in-game items you need to actually win a game.

Plus, you’re not locked into one type of device. All the original Apple Arcade offerings are playable on iPhone, Mac, iPad and Apple TV. And they support game controllers, too.

Savings come in other ways as well. Here’s one example: The Pathless is part of Apple’s gaming service, so playing it is included with a subscription. The PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC versions cost $39.99.

Also, consider that the $76.80 a year spent on iPhone games is the U.S. average, which means plenty of people are spending more than that. If that’s you, $49.99 should sound like a bargain. Especially if you buy into one of the money-saving Apple One subscription bundles. They all include access to all Apple Arcade games in addition to Apple Music, additional iCloud storage, Apple TV+ and other services.

Maybe Apple Arcade is right for your kids

One of the big advantages of Apple Arcade is that one subscription works for up to six family members thanks to Family Sharing. Even if you’re not into gaming, this could be a good way to get your kids access to tons of games at a relatively low price.

Especially since you won’t be hit with any unexpected costs. As mentioned, Apple’s service bans in-app purchases, loot boxes and ads.

As an extra bonus, Arcade games must comply with Apple’s high user-privacy standards. So you can rest assured these games won’t gather information about your children and sell it to third parties.

Just think about it

As with everything in life, there are drawbacks to Apple Arcade. The primary one is that it doesn’t include big-name games. If you’ve dedicated your life to PUBG Mobile or Roblox and nothing else will do, then Arcade isn’t for you — at least not as your sole source of gaming options.

But if you just want to have fun, there’s plenty of great stuff in Apple’s service. Sports games, RPGs, adventure games, puzzle games, story games, little kids’ games. The list goes on and on.

I’ve been an Apple Arcade subscriber from day one, and have never considered dropping out. I’ve played many hours of Spire Blast when I needed a quick break, but my real preference is RPGs. Over many months, I’ve gone through most of the ones on Apple’s subscription service, and more keep coming. I’m considering taking a break from Oceanhorn: Chronos Dungeon to try the amazing-looking Fantasian.

Having more games at my disposal than I have time to play is a good problem to have. And it’s all due to Apple Arcade — and costs less than $5 per month.


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