Ap­ple shifts its Ap­ple Ar­cade strat­egy

Some types of games aren’t prov­ing as en­gag­ing as Ap­ple had hoped, ac­cord­ing to a Bloomberg re­port. Ja­son Cross re­ports

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Ac­cord­ing to a new re­port from Bloomberg (fave. co/2NWh9tZ), Ap­ple is shift­ing its Ap­ple Ar­cade strat­egy and re­cently can­celled a num­ber of game de­vel­op­ment con­tracts for the ser­vice. The re­port cites “peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter” in claim­ing that an Ap­ple Ar­cade pro­ducer in­formed de­vel­op­ers of their can­celled con­tracts and change in di­rec­tion in April.

Reached for com­ment, Ap­ple said, “We are proud to have launched the first-ever mo­bile game sub­scrip­tion ser­vice that now fea­tures more than 120 games, many of which are award-win­ning and widely cel­e­brated for their artistry and game­play. The vi­sion has al­ways been to grow and evolve the Ap­ple Ar­cade cat­a­logue, and we can’t wait for our users to try the games de­vel­op­ers are work­ing on now.”

It seems, some of the deeper and move in­volved games weren’t keep­ing play­ers en­gaged, and thus didn’t make Ap­ple Ar­cade seem like as good a value. The re­port claims that Ap­ple gave one spe­cific ex­am­ple of the kinds of games it wants to see more of: Grind­stone (see over­leaf).

It’s the sort of bite-sized level-based puz­zle game that of­ten suc­ceeds as freemium games on the App Store. It’s also a per­fect ex­am­ple of how re­mov­ing the preda­tory ‘freemium’ game de­sign ob­sta­cles could make so many games bet­ter.

Evolv­ing Ar­cade

It’s not hard to see where Ap­ple is com­ing from with this. Many of the big­ger, deeper games, like Ocean­horn 2, are im­pres­sive but not the sort of games peo­ple want to play on their phones while watch­ing TV at night. Many of the mo­bile games of that scale seem made for the liv­ing room TV, with small fonts and con­trols that prac­ti­cally demand a gamepad.

The Ap­ple TV hard­ware just isn’t viewed as a gam­ing box, and nei­ther are Macs. That leaves those ‘big screen, long ses­sion’ ex­pe­ri­ences in an awk­ward place. They can’t com­pete with big-bud­get con­sole

games, but they’re too deep and in­volved, with com­plex con­trol de­mands, to thrive as mo­bile games. Ap­ple may be well-served to fo­cus more on more tra­di­tional mo­bile-style games for now.

Ide­ally, Ap­ple would re-ex­am­ine its ex­clu­siv­ity pol­icy for Ap­ple Ar­cade. Games like Threes! or Alto’s Odyssey would add tremen­dous value to Ap­ple Ar­cade and help lure mo­bile game fans, but can’t be a part of it be­cause they’re al­ready avail­able on their own. The ‘only on Ap­ple Ar­cade’ isn’t the sell­ing point Ap­ple had hoped.

Grind­stone, one of the more pop­u­lar Ap­ple Ar­cade games

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