In its on stage presentation a few weeks ago, Apple let us know a little of what will make their new Apple Arcade service unique. It won’t be littered with the same freemium or ad-supported games that currently dominate the App Store, but will come with exclusive stand-alone titles that subscribers will get access to. With over 100 titles at launch, there ought to be plenty to choose from.
Just by the number of games, we can tell that Apple is putting a significant investment into this new service. However, if a report from last week is true, there is more money behind it than most would have thought going into the reveal. $500 million, to be exact. That is a significant number and if it proves to be true, it shows that Apple is finally making a real commitment to gaming on iOS.
Why is this amount important? One reason is that it shouldn’t cost Apple all of $500 million for the first run of 100 games that will be available at launch. This tells me that they have the longer view in mind right from the start. Apple’s investment should insure that many more new titles will follow in the months after the launch of Apple Arcade. That kind of up-front commitment to making the launch of the service and beyond go smoothly is important to note.
The amount of money Apple is putting in is also notable because it shows how important Arcade must be to them. They supposedly put $1 billion into the beginnings of Apple TV+ and we know it is a very high priority in their new services push. By the same logic, half that amount invested to start up a gaming service can’t be ignored. Going into Apple’s media event, I don’t think anyone expected their rumored gaming service to be this much of a focus, but it appears that they have bigger ambitions than many expected, myself included.
I will be the first to say that money invested isn’t a guarantee of success. Apple stayed on the sidelines for years and watched as paid title gaming on iOS withered and died, so they will have to continue to invest in Arcade to get gamers to take them seriously. A $500 million investment is impressive, but it will take time and continued investment to bring people like myself, who gave up on iOS gaming being anything more than a momentary diversion, back to the platform. Casual gamers aren’t going to pay $10-12 per month for Arcade en masse, so Apple will have to win get hardcore players to take notice, either again or for the first time.
$500 million isn’t an instant fix or a guarantee of success, but it is proof that Apple gets it. They have a hole in the App Store. They have a weakness when it comes to gaming and they have finally taken steps to address it. Personally, I think some kind of move to shore up paid gaming should have come a long time ago, as Apple could have positioned themselves to enjoy some of the success that the Nintendo Switch has had all to itself for the last two years.
However, that is all water under the bridge at this point. At least Apple is making a legitimate and well funded service to try and bring some of us back to iOS for gaming. I think Apple does have a long road ahead to prove itself in gaming and that it may take time for Arcade to really catch on. I also don’t think the company has a lot of room for error, so a great start is really, REALLY important. However, if they stick with it and put their focus on backing talented developers making great games, then there is definitely an opportunity for Apple to get hardcore gamers interested again.
It will definitely be interesting to see if the games prove that Apple’s reported $500 million was well-spent. I look forward to finding out this Fall.