Apple Arcade is Starting to Restore My Interest in Mobile Gaming

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I’ve always been the busy sort. I’ve never tended to have tons of free time and always have plenty to do. However, lately I’ve been crazy busy even by my own standards. As such, there hasn’t been a lot of time for gaming over the last year. However, even when there was, it’s been a long time since I was doing much of anything on mobile.

The Nintendo Switch took over that role as soon as I could get my hands on one over two years ago. I tried playing things beyond puzzle and strategy games on my iPhone and iPad in the past, but Apple just didn’t make it as easy as it should have been. Not every game works well with touch and they were way too late with controller support. Then you had the onslaught of fremium games, the success of which choked out the market for high-quality paid for games.

There was a time years ago when games like World of Goo, Infinity Blade and the Real Racing series made me believe that iOS could grow into a suitable platform for serious gaming. I can also remember jailbreaking my old iPhones and iPad and iPad 2 so I could run emulators and play console classics with a Bluetooth WiiMote. I thought that the iPad had real potential, but Apple never saw it through. Instead, Nintendo got the mix of power, portability and versatility right with the Switch and they took full control of quality, paid-for mobile gaming.

When I first heard the rumors and then the announcement of Apple Arcade, I thought maybe Apple had finally gotten serious about making iOS a legitimate platform for quality gaming experiences. maybe this would work to pay developers for well-made games that don’t need ads or loot buckets to pay the bills. Would they see it through this time, or would this be another half-assed App Store for the Apple TV launch? So far, my money’s on the former, and that’s very good news.

As I said above, I still have very little time for any kind of gaming. My Switch has basically been gathering dust this year because of that. However, some of the unique titles available on Apple Arcade have gotten me interested enough to invest a little time over the past few weeks. The fact that, as with the Switch, I can take these titles anywhere and play them with quality controllers is a huge selling point. Unlike the Switch, I can far more easily port my game saves between different devices on the go, making this an even more portable gaming experience.

So far, I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen. Over the last two days I’ve been playing a title called Neo Cab.

It’s sort of a futuristic text-based adventure game. It isn’t quite as open as I might have liked, but I still found it interesting and engaging. It’s the kind of game I likely wouldn’t have sought out on its own, but was happy to try out because it was included with my Arcade subscription. In hindsight, I’m glad that I did.

Neo Cab was well-crafted, easy to play, and short enough that it maintained my interest. I completed the storyline over two days of playing and really enjoyed it. It feels like the perfect kind of game for Apple Arcade and for mobile devices.

Another good example of a perfect Arcade title is the new Crossy Road platformer that is rumored to be coming soon. Even though it was a fremium title and it came out after my interest in mobile gaming had waned, I still put some time into the original Crossy Road.

If you don’t remember it, think a modern take on a touch-based Frogger with lots of characters. My kids loved it, it was fun and it worked well on mobile. Also, it was a rare example of fremium done right. You could pay to get new characters and other add-ons, but you didn’t have to. You could play as much as you wanted and you slowly upgrade and add new characters as you progressed normally through the game. That’s one of the big reasons I liked it.

If Crossy Road came out today, it would be a perfect Apple Arcade game. That gives me a lot of confidence that a follow-up from the same developers will be a lot of fun and something I want to play. The fun characters from the original also seem like a perfect fit in a platforming game, I know my daughter is already looking forward to this one, as well.

These aren’t the only games I’ve found interesting. Sayonara Wild Hearts is out there, but fun to play. Overland is a great concept, but it’s not easy. My daughter loves her a good Rayman game. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the available content and I’m having a lot of fun trying out new games on all three of the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. Also, there are new games trickling out all the time, so looks like Apple is making good on its commitment to provide a large selection of games in Arcade.

Apple still has a job in front of them keeping their devs happy and keeping great new content rolling in. However, for now, I think Apple Arcade is the best thing to ever happen to gaming on iOS. For me so far, it is worth every penny of the $4.99 per moth it costs. It has also breathed new life into my interest in mobile gaming, which I had completely given up on. Keep it up, Apple. Keep it up.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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