Apple launched its Arcade video games subscription service to great fanfare last September. However, the Silicon Valley giant has reportedly canceled several in-development titles as it seeks to make the platform more compelling to users.
Still lacking a crossover title almost a year after debuting, it is unknown if Apple’s gaming offering will succeed.
The Problem with Apple Arcade
At a glance, Apple Arcade seems like a no-brainer for players wary of contemporary gaming’s acquisitive nature. The titles featured on the service eschew irritating ads and do not have in-app purchasing mechanics. The platform is also incredibly affordable; consumers can access 120 games for $4.99 a month.
Unfortunately, Apple Arcade does not host a “Call of Duty: Mobile” or “Candy Crush Saga” equivalent. That is not to imply the platform’s titles are poorly conceived or designed. The Cupertino, California-based corporation spent millions to produce novel and thought-provoking offerings like “Assemble with Care” and “Bleak Sword.” The issue is the company’s contracted designers have yet to create a breakout hit.
According to Bloomberg, Apple told some studios behind its previously in-development games their work did not have the right level of “engagement.” The publication notes the Big Tech giant wants more titles like “Grindstone,” a conceptually simplistic but addictive puzzler. It seems the firm’s new strategy is building a platform more akin to Netflix than The Criterion Channel.
Apple’s unparalleled track record indicates its Arcade pivot could bear fruit. However, its real problem might be it is trying to reinvent a paradigm that does not need reinvention.
Will Apple Arcade Ever be a Hit?
Golden Casino News states mobile games generated $49 billion in revenue last year and will reach $56.6 billion in market value by 2024. The segment owes its remarkable profit-making capacity and rapid expansion to its developers’ business model. Whereas console and online game publishers make money from software sales, mobile designers earn cash from ads and in-app purchases.
Activision, Tencent, and Epic Games rake in billions of dollars annually selling players exotic weaponry, special attire, and dance animations.
Apple knows how the industry works as an estimated 75 to 90 percent of App Store revenue comes from mobile game sales. The company’s decision to launch Arcade under a subscription model is an extension of its “Think Different” ethos. Thus far, its efforts have apparently resulted in a Newton-style flop rather than iPad like successes.
The firm’s decision to focus on producing more engaging mobile games seems wise. Apple might follow another industry practice and buy a promising startup to bolster its content library. “Farmville” developer Zynga has maintained relevancy in a highly competitive field for over a decade by making a series of strategic acquisitions.
If the company takes its mobile games production in-house, it will align with the Cook Doctrine’s tightly controlled approach to development. With greater creative control and improved hardware/software alignment, Apple could finally make its version of “Pokémon Go” or “Hearthstone.”