With the addition of 32 new games, all dropped simultaneously on April 2nd, Apple Arcade now has over 180 games.
It's now been 18 months since Apple launched their gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade, and - from the outside - it's seemed like a little bit of a bumpy ride. It was clear that the subscription service, which works out $4.99 a month, had been in the works for quite some time, but despite that, it took quite some time before we finally had our hands on every title which was revealed alongside the service. Games like Overland, Hitchhiker and The Pathless were revealed in late 2019, but some of these didn't within land in the first year of the product being on the market.
That said, it did launch with over 70 games, and it was an absolutely phenomenal selection. Not only that but for the first few months after it became available there was at least one game launching every week, at times as many as four. The selection of games was vast, from Battle Royale games like Butter Royale through to Peggle meets Roguelike sensation Roundguard. Each of the games was mobile-exclusive to Apple Arcade too, meaning that you couldn't pick them up on Google Play, TapTap or any other mobile storefront - although plenty also launched on console and PC. After a while, though, the launch schedule thinned out a little, there were weeks where nothing released, and people started to question whether the platform was struggling... it was an interesting offering - ad-free, IAP free, premium experience games - and Apple could advertise it as heavily as they wanted to their captive audience but was it enough?
The major, April 2nd, change to the Apple Arcade store gave an indication of how the service is going to continue to survive against increasing competition from other premium service alternatives (Xbox Game Pass, Stadia, Google Play Pass, etc) in that Apple released two new categories on the store, and immediately populated them. Not only that, but it also released some fantastic games.
Both 'Timeless Classics' and 'App Store Greats' were added to the service. The former, Timeless Classics, includes what Apple describe as 'universally loved' and 'quintessential' and features games like Good Sudoku, Backgammon and Really Bad Chess. Interestingly, some of these apps are completely constructed for the section, while others, like Good Sudoku, have been altered to fit the service. 'App Store Greats' is the same as the latter, it includes award-winning titles from the App Store catalogue which have been stripped of their ads, in-app purchases and other monetisation methods, essentially being bundled as premium products under the Apple Arcade mantle.
The latter includes some real gems, games like Mini Metro, Fruit Ninja Classic and Threes.
Many of these new titles are now strapped with a + symbol at the end, something we saw late last year with the release of Spelltower+, a revisited version of the original. Interestingly, that game is also part of this update, albeit with all bundles and packs unlocked in this version.
It wasn't just that though, the major April 2nd update coincided with a few major releases too. Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat, The Oregon Trail, Wonderbox: The Adventure, World of Demons, and Fantasian were all added to the service. Even without the addition of the two new categories, there are some real standouts in the list of releases. I'm personally incredibly happy about Taiko no Tatsujin making its way to the small screen, and I've spent a lot of this extended weekend tapping away to the game. The Oregon Trail is another one that really delivers, with Gameloft - who seem to have become quite well known for their monetisation practices - delivering a fantastic take on the educational classic.
What does this mean for the future of Apple Arcade?
We've still not seen numbers detailing the adoption rate of Apple Arcade, but this move from Apple clearly shows that there is intent to keep the service alive and populated. A showing of so many great games, and a rework of the existing categories really feels like a show of strength. Is this the rumblings of a sleeping giant as it starts to wake, fully rested and ready to rock? Or is this instead perhaps a big push of previously pitched initiatives in an attempt to rekindle a dwindling product? We don't know, and we won't know until we find out more about adoption rates of the service, but one thing that we do know is that the addition of 30+ games to an already strong line-up is a big show of intent, and Apple Arcade is really starting to fill up with some fantastic games.
Apple Arcade is $4.99 a month, if you haven't tried it yet then there's a free trial.