Since its surprise unveiling of Apple Arcade earlier this week, Apple has wasted little time in starting to promote the service both to users and developers. The App Store editorial team has already published story Introducing Apple Arcade, highlighting the service, but not telling us too much we don’t already know.
For example, Apple tells us that it’s a gaming subscription service, adding that it’s the “first-ever” service that spans everything from mobile devices to the living room. It’s also going to launch in the fall, Apple is “working closely” with developers, and it will include “over 100 innovative titles” that will be playable on he iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac, both online and offline, with progress carried over between devices. More games will be added, and the service will be fully supported by Family Sharing, meaning up to six family members can enjoy the same subscription. However, other than rehashing everything it told us on Monday, Apple still hasn’t revealed the one thing that end users really want to know: How much will it cost?
Despite the many questions that still remain for developers, however, one that seems to have been at least partially answered is whether they will be able to participate in the program. With the A-list talent that Apple showed off on Monday — industry greats such as Hironobu Sakaguchi and Will Wright — many developers feared that this would be an exclusive service that would be accessible only to those developers hand-picked by Apple.
Although it appears this may still be partially true, Apple has put up a Developer Page for Apple Arcade on which it is inviting developers to let them know about any games they’re working on that could be worthy of consideration for Apple Arcade. While the request is essentially an application to participate, Apple stops short of calling it that, suggesting that it’s merely an expression of interest in Apple Arcade.
The only hard criteria Apple is offering at this point is that the game must not have been previously released. Considering how Apple has been promoting Apple Arcade, this makes sense, but adds additional confirmation that the new service will not simply be a place to subscribe to titles that are already available on the App Store; clearly every game that’s included in Apple Arcade is going to be an entirely new title, although we suspect that Apple will also allow room for sequels to previously-acclaimed titles such as Monument Valley and Alto’s Adventure/Odyssey.
Of course Apple also wants the games to be “groundbreaking,” but that’s considerably more open to interpretation by whatever group at Apple is going to be acting as the gatekeeper for Apple Arcade. The “application” form itself is actually fairly sparse, asking only for the developer’s contact information, the name of the game being submitted for consideration, a short description (500 words or less), links to video or PDF -based artwork previews, and an expected launch date.
Apple also includes the usual laundry list of terms and conditions at the bottom, labelled as the Apple Arcade Submission Agreement, and while it’s mostly boilerplate, developers should read it carefully and be aware that, as these things usually state, Apple basically reserves the right to not only reject any submissions, but use any ideas that are submitted to it without compensation to the developers involved, especially if those ideas as “not new or novel” or have been submitted by more than one party. The terms also imply that those who are invited to participate in Apple Arcade will have to agree to a separate set of terms specifically related to the development and distribution of their game.
On the flip side, however, Apple is reiterating its commitment to working closely with any developers who will be participating in the program, suggesting that Arcade developers will have a closer relationship with Apple than most iOS developers have in the past, and may in fact get direct assistance and technical support. Exactly how this is going to work for developers, however, is one of the bigger questions that still remains — along with exactly how developers are going to be compensated for their efforts.