At the company’s keynote address today Apple lifted the lid on Apple Arcade, a game subscription service across all of Apple’s platforms. The service will be coming later this year, Fall 2019, for over 150 countries and regions. While pricing details have not yet been announced, Apple said that Apple Arcade will launch with over 100 new and exclusive original gaming apps, that will not be available on other mobile devices at the very least. You’ll be able to freely play every game across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV, and seamlessly move between platforms.
Apple notes that its iOS is the largest gaming platform in the world, and more than 1 billion people have downloaded games from the App Store worldwide. The Apple Arcade subscription service is meant to be the third pillar in the way that Apple users buy games, after “free with ads or in-app purchases” and paid apps. Apple has multiple developers working on games exclusively for Apple Arcade, which includes such legendary developers as Hironobu Sakaguchi (creator of Final Fantasy), Ken Wong (Monument Valley), Will Wright (SimCity, The Sims), and Charles Cecil (Broken Sword). Studios signed up for the service include Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Devolver Digital, Finji, Disney, Klei Entertainment, Konami, LEGO, Mistwalker Corporation, SEGA, WayForward and more.
Games coming to the service include the next game from veteran adventure game studio Revolution, creators of the Broken Sword series and Beneath a Steel Sky. That team are working on a sequel to Steel Sky, titled Beyond a Steel Sky, and that’ll be a third-person adventure coming (on mobile at least) exclusively to Apple Arcade. Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi is working on a game called Fantasian, which seems to feature levels based on real-life models and dioramas, with a digitized character navigating them.
The new game from SimCity and The Sims creator Will Wright, who left Maxis in 2009 after the release of Spore, was not shown off. However, this is almost certainly Proxi, the new mobile game that Wright revealed last August, a simulation of an Artificial Intelligence based on your memories and interaction with the game. “The player controls the concepts and memories which are the building blocks of their proxi,” the website reads. “In the game world, they can sculpt these memories into a fantastic world of experience and exploration.” Whether Proxi is the new game coming to Apple Arcade, or whether Proxi has evolved into something else, we don’t yet know.
Other games shown off an unnamed first-person shooter, a post-apocalyptic road-trip puzzle game called Overland, a cel-shaded third-person ninja adventure, a hack-and-slash title that was very reminiscient of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (right down to the character’s outfit), and a 3D version of Frogger (or Crossy Road) with multiple baby frogs. There was also an adventure title called Where Cards Fall, which the developers describe as “a personal coming-of-age story that most publishers wouldn’t take a chance on,” and they admit “most people typically wouldn’t see it unless Apple Arcade existed.”
Perhaps most intriguing was the appearance of Sonic the Hedgehog, who made a notable (if brief) appearance in the Apple Arcade preview video, which you can see above. The video showed Sonic running in a 3D landscape which fills in with color as he crosses it, which could be related to the next 3D Sonic game, or it could just be a placeholder. It certainly doesn’t seem to be related to upcoming racing title Team Sonic Racing, due this May, although Apple did confirm that Team Sonic Racing was coming to Apple Arcade when the service launches later this year.
The games will not be available on any other mobile platform, or any subscription service, although presumably they will at least appear on PC. The service will be curated by Apple’s editors, and will feature no ads, ad tracking or any additional purchases. No data will be collected with a player’s express consent.
In many ways Apple Arcade is Apple’s answer to Google’s Stadia, which also offers a seamless game streaming service over multiple platforms. Google was not willing to commit to announcing a subscription service, nor did it reveal any original games, but Stadia does have the advantage that it’s planned to be available across all platforms, including PC, consoles, and all TV, tablet, and mobile types phone — including Apple’s. With both services launching later this year, the future could be well and truly streaming.