How Apple Arcade is challenging the status quo in mobile gaming?

At the WWDC event of 2019, Apple went on with its usual keynote layout by presenting the new iOS 13 with some new features and changes. However, as Steve Jobs coined it, there was “one more thing”: Apple unveiled its own mobile gaming platform called Apple Arcade.

In a world where literally everything goes online, the entertainment industry certainly doesn’t fall behind this trend. From Japanese anime and manga streaming on the one end of the globe to the likes of top Norwegian bookmakers listed here, all the way to Google and its new game-streaming services in the other end, entertainment becomes more and more accessible through the internet.

Stream the game

Here’s where the Apple Arcade comes in to make an impact. The way it’s designed to work is characteristically new to the gaming industry: you don’t need to buy the games one by one; they all become accessible once you buy a subscription package.

Take an example of Netflix. Before that, you had to buy movies separately and pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to watch them. However, with this movie-streaming service, you just need to pay $10 a month and that’s it, you can watch anything you want without additional payments.

That’s exactly what happens with Apple Arcade. You’re paying $5 a month to get over one hundred different games at your fingertips. Now, several dozen games were available on the platform at its launch on September 19, however, by the time we’re writing this piece, there are already 100 games in the collection which, by the way, is still being updated and refilled.

The most fun part about the Arcade games is that you can play as many of them as you want, as often as you like. There are no restrictions or limitations. And what’s more, when you buy a one-month subscription for $5, you can share it with your family members as well since the subscription has a five membership plan.

No in-app purchases

But there’s one particular aspect that’s attracting so much attention in the industry: the fact that there are no in-app subscriptions and purchases, not even ads. Since the majority of mobile games, and even the PC ones, depend on further purchases like skin packs, additional weapons, and many more, people are asking questions as to what economic model lies behind this subscription-based service.

You can download conventional games such as Call of Duty: Mobile, Fortnite, Pubg, etc. without paying anything for them, however, their revenues depend on in-app purchases that drive this whole industry. If you take a look at the most popular top-grossing games on the App Store, all of them have additional purchases. In general, billions of dollars are made by these exchanges annually.

And while Apple has been partaking in this model by taking 30% of the in-app purchase revenues, it’s still trying to overthrow this status-quo economic layout with Apple Arcade. With Arcade, as mentioned above, there will be no in-app purchases whatsoever – the whole platform will depend on the initial subscription purchases.

However, there are certain short-term drawbacks to this platform as well. Apple Arcade is a curated platform, meaning that only a small subset of developers, who cooperate with Apple, have an opportunity to put their games on it. This leaves the whole myriad of software developers out of the picture.

However, in a long-term outlook, this can increase their embeddedness on this platform, giving them the incentive to further their connections with the company and provide their games with no in-app purchases. As challenging as it might sound, it can still be achieved with increased coordination between the parties.

And “one more thing”: big platforms like Ubisoft, Konami, Capcom, and Lego have already to the Apple Arcade launch lineup. This means that their games will also feature in these collections and will be available for just one single subscription. This doesn’t mean that their conventional games will go out of the market; what it means is that they’ll have more incentives to innovate and incorporate new gaming technologies on their platforms.