Although we haven’t heard much about Apple Arcade lately, it looks like Apple is still on track to launch the service this fall as promised, and like it did with the Apple Card, is giving its own employees a sneak peek at the service prior to its wider launch, which is expected to coincide with iOS 13 next month.
According to 9to5Mac, Apple is running an “early access” program for its new gaming subscription service that’s open to at least some Apple employees. Despite the early nature of the program, participants are still being charged a $0.49/month subscription fee, with a one-month free trial. The program is expected to end “with the launch of iOS 13” so with a one-month trial and iOS 13 expected to land in less than a month, it seems unlikely that subscribers will ever be charged under the “early access” program.
Signup and Pricing
9to5Mac was able to get access to the Apple Arcade early testing program via the Mac App Store — although it’s presumably also available on the iOS side as well — and was therefore able to share some insights into what it will look like and how it will work.
As the report notes, the process starts with a welcome page that seems pretty much like what we’d expect, highlighting some of the content available through the subscription, followed by a big button that lets users start a free one-month trial of the service.
However, 9to5Mac notes that the actual price that’s offered to the public will likely be more than $0.49 per month, suggesting that the displayed price is just a temporary one for the internal testing period. This seems logical as the lower pricing tier on the App Store up until now has been $0.99.
No official information is yet available on what the actual pricing for the gaming subscription service will be, or if Apple has even made a final decision on pricing yet, but we’d expect it to be considerably higher — likely closer to the price of Apple’s other content services such as Apple Music and Apple News+, each of which cost $9.99/month. Although newer reports suggest that Apple Arcade will cost as low as $4.99 per month after a one-month free trial.
Getting the Games
Once the user has completed the signup process, they’ll be taken to a new page that shows featured games. These must be downloaded and installed in the same way as any other app — they’re not “streamed” from Apple Arcade — and the process is exactly the same as downloading a free app or game from anywhere else in the App Store.
The pages for the games themselves are presented a bit differently, however, with a large artwork image followed by a small section for the game’s title and tag line, and an easily accessible download button. Additional information such as the age rating, category, and size of the game can be found in an info bar below the fold, followed by the rest of the page which is like any other App store product page.
What’s There Now
9to5Mac also revealed a few of the games that are currently being highlighted, including Way of the Turtle, Down in Bermuda, Hot Lava, Sneaky Sasquatch, Kings of the Castle, Frogger in Toy Town, and Lame Game 2, although the descriptions suggest that most of these are still development builds for testing.
There also doesn’t yet seem to be any sign of the more flagship titles expected from gaming greats such as Hironobu Sakaguchi and Will Wright, but it stands to reason that Apple is likely holding these back for a much bigger reveal when the service actually launches, and there are undoubtedly many more to come — Apple has promised that over 100 games will be available on Apple Arcade when it launches, and all of the promo text maintains this number, both in the iOS 13 “Coming Soon” page and the current early access program. Apple has also committed to spending over half a billion dollars to help fund great new games for Apple Arcade, so it’s fair to say that there are many more exciting things coming.