In the leadup to Apple’s services event on Monday, there are fresh reports that they have been working with developers on a subscription gaming service. I think this sounds like a good idea for the company that will bolster an area that is still a strong point for them. However, I have been skeptical that it might be coming soon based on how few reports there have been from trustworthy Apple sources, especially in comparison to how many we have for subscription video and news.
That changed today, as Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has published an overview of Monday’s Apple event that touches on the company’s work here. According to the article, their coming gaming service will not directly compete with Google’s Stadia streaming service that was revealed this week, but will focus instead on mobile gaming. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Apple’s efforts in larger-screen gaming on Apple TV have been a failure, but they continue to be a force on the small screen. Such a service should insure that continues to be the case.
The key is keeping developers engaged and more importantly, making money on iOS gaming. While freemium games are still very popular, it seems that Apple is looking to bolster the struggling paid gaming market. According to Gurman, the service will pay developers based on time spent playing their titles:
The company would collect these monthly fees, then divide up the revenue between developers based on how much time users spend playing their games, one of the people said. Apple is likely considering popular paid titles on the App Store and would exclude titles that are free to download but generate revenue via in-app purchases.
This seems like a good way to bring some balance back to the App Store, as even a company like Nintendo struggled to make money on a Mario game as a paid iOS app. The App Store model for games has been broken for a while now, as developers have either swapped to freemium or abandoned iOS. There are still a few large companies that offer paid games today, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Maybe a subscription service will change that for the better.
According to Mark Gurman, Apple may talk about this service on Monday, but that isn’t certain.
Apple could discuss the service as soon as Monday, or it may choose to detail the offering at its conference for developers later this year.
So we won’t know which way this goes until Monday’s event is wrapped up. However, with a source as plugged into the inner-workings at Apple as Mark Gurman weighing in, you can bet that an Apple gaming service is coming by WWDC. We shall see.