With the launch of iOS 13 in 2019, Apple finally brought its mobile game subscription service to the masses—and played a big role in shaping the future of mobile gaming's landscape.
Mobile games have gone through many changes since their pre-smartphone debut in the 1990s. At first, there were lots of free mobile games. Then, developers charged a dollar or two. Later, freemium mobile games with in-app purchases took over.
Of all the mobile gaming trends we've seen, Apple Arcade is perhaps the most exciting one. This subscription service costs a modest fee and offers several benefits that promise to shake up the mobile gaming landscape for years to come.
Here's everything you need to know about Apple Arcade, whether Apple Arcade is worth it, and why you might want to subscribe.
1. How Much Does Apple Arcade Cost?
Apple Arcade costs a modest $4.99/month. But you don't have to dive in blind—there's a free 30-day trial so you can try it out and see for yourself if it's worth it for you.
The Apple Arcade free trial grants full access to the service, meaning there's no limit to the number of games you can download and play.
Apple Arcade is also compatible with Family Sharing. For no extra cost, you can share your Apple Arcade subscription with up to 5 other family members, which turns this excellent-value service into an insane-value service. That's less than $1/person per month!
2. What Games Are on Apple Arcade?
Subscription services like Apple Arcade live and die based on their video game lineups. Fortunately, Apple Arcade came out of the gate with an enticing library, and continues to improve it every month.
As of this writing, Apple Arcade has over 180 video games that span all kinds of genres. That means there's a little something for everyone, no matter what kind of gamer you are. And while a lot of those games are timeless classics, there are plenty of hits from the past year or two.
Notable games in the Apple Arcade library include Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm (an adventure game similar to Zelda), Sonic Racing (a cooperative team-based racing game), What the Golf? (a golf game with a twist), and Manifold Garden (a unique puzzle game).
A lot of the games on Apple Arcade fall under the "indie games" umbrella, but you'll find occasional releases from companies like Capcom, SEGA, and Konami.
Not every game on Apple Arcade is perfect, but most of them offer solid gaming experiences. I've played about half of them so far, and I can attest that Apple Arcade is a tremendous value.
3. Do Apple Arcade Games Have Ads?
No! One of the main selling points of Apple Arcade is that every game on the service has no advertisements and no in-app purchases.
Apple actually takes it one step further and promises that none of the games on Apple Arcade have always-on DRM. Digital Rights Management often hinders the gaming experience with all kinds of inconveniences, so this is a welcome feature.
Apple Arcade would be a pretty good value even without any of these provisions, but their inclusion is really what makes Apple Arcade so worth it for many mobile gamers. You can finally get away from so many of the issues that have plagued mobile gaming for years!
4. Which Devices Support Apple Arcade?
Apple Arcade has come a long way since it launched in 2019. At first it was only available on iPhones (iOS 13+), but it's now available on iPads (iPad OS 13+), Apple TVs (tvOS 13+), iMacs and MacBooks (macOS Catalina or later), and more.
What's even more interesting is that you can start playing an Apple Arcade game on one device, pause, and seamlessly continue progress on any other device that supports Apple Arcade. Apple Arcade game data is saved to your account and accessible across all devices.
5. Can I Play Apple Arcade Games Offline?
Yes! Every game on Apple Arcade can be downloaded to any device that supports Apple Arcade, meaning you don't need an internet connection to launch or play any of them.
6. Does Apple Arcade Support Controllers?
Another big selling point of Apple Arcade is that a lot of the games in the library support the use of game controllers—including Xbox One controllers, PlayStation 4 controllers, and other Bluetooth controllers.
Simply pair them with your device to play any game that supports controller input. While not every Apple Arcade game does, the ones that would make sense to play with a game controller (like sidescrolling platformers) usually do.
7. Does Apple Arcade Track Users?
Usually, subscription services that are as cheap as Apple Arcade try to seek out other ways to profit off of their subscribers—and a lot of them resort to tracking user behaviors and selling user data.
But Apple has clearly communicated their stance against user behavior tracking and invasion of data privacy without explicit, informed consent. Apple promises not to track your user data and sell it to other parties without your knowledge or approval.
Is Apple Arcade Worth It for You?
If you so much as dabble in the world of mobile games, you should absolutely sign up for Apple Arcade. Not just the free trial, either!
The sheer quantity AND quality of mobile games as part of Apple Arcade make it an absolute no-brainer for mobile gamers. Apple Arcade is one of the best value media subscription services out there, period. Its entertainment-per-dollar ratio is excellent.
The Future of Apple Arcade
Apple has made it clear that the selection of mobile games on Apple Arcade is just the beginning. The Apple Arcade library grows with new games every month, further improving the value of the subscription's monthly fee.
And Apple Arcade is even available as part of Apple's broader Apple One subscription, which is a good sign for skeptics who aren't sure if Apple will support Apple Arcade for the long-term.