Apple Arcade Games Hands-On Roundup: Hits and Misses

BY Mahit Huilgol

Published 16 Sep 2019

Apple Arcade

Apple took us by surprise after it announced Arcade Gaming service for $4.99. Apple Arcade gives you unlimited access to 100 exclusive games on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Lately, Apple has been focussing on bolstering its services and the gaming service is one of the many moves. The hands-on included a bunch of curated games.


Engadget describes Apple Arcade as follows,

Apple is trying to build a service that shows off what its devices can do with truly innovative games. It might even be compelling enough to convince people to switch away from Android, something they’ll have to do since Apple Arcade games are either exclusive to iOS or the service entirely.

After playing for a few minutes, I was struck by its clean art direction and addictive gameplay (I’m a sucker for tactical games). I played it on an iMac using a PlayStation 4 controller (expanded gamepad support is coming to all Apple platforms), which is a scenario I never would have predicted sitting through a year ago.

Despite packing in powerful hardware and a clean operating system, Apple has not concentrated much on the gaming aspect. Perhaps this one of the reasons why avid gamers shy away from buying MacBook’s. The Apple Arcade might finally give an edge to Apple when it comes to gaming.

The Verge

The Verge explains how the games seem “lackluster” at first but the gameplay is actually immersive. They also mention that the six games are “just scratching the surface” and Apple Arcade subscribers will get more than 100 games to choose from.

The titles are an interesting mix of big-name game studios and indie developers. But it’s a surprisingly deep lineup that goes way beyond the lackluster onstage debut.”

Even that Frogger game has more to it than first thought. It’s made by Q-Games, which previously made PixelJunk Monsters, and it’s almost indicative of the entire Arcade reveal: lackluster at first until you look closer and see that there’s actually a lot happening


Mashable’s Apple Arcade hands-on review mentions the nitty-gritty of the platform. The review also explains why Arcade is not like Netflix and Hulu while drawing parallels to Xbox Gamepass.

This isn’t exactly a Netflix or Hulu for games. Some of the Arcade titles offer online features, but the games themselves aren’t streaming. You can play them offline during subway commutes and long flights. The better comparison is to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service, since both give subscribers access to a library of offline-friendly titles


Gizmodo’s Apple Arcade review was a mixed bag. The review walks us through different playstyles of titles like Snownal’s Skate City, Overland, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Shinsekai and Where the Cards Fall.

The demo games I played had potential, but they could all end up being stinkers on a full play-through—or they could end up being the only good games that ever appear on the service

For $5 a month, Apple curates a list of over a hundred titles that don’t have any of the little annoyances we’ve come to expect from mobile games. There are no microtransactions, no weird in-game currencies that require you to spend real-world money, and no characters or storylines you can only experience by spending a few extra dollars


CNET speaks about the lure of freemium games and how freemium games will invariably end up costing more than paid games.

Like a frog slowly boiling in ever-hotter water, a freemium game may end up costing many times the $5-$10 you’d never pay for a more premium game in the first place

The review also sheds some light on the competition and how Apple Arcade fairs against the same.

Apple Arcade embraces a new direction in offering wider access to games, but it’s not alone. Google’s Stadia service, launching later in the year, Nvidia’s GeForce Now service and a handful of others all want to be the heralds of the new same-game-play-anywhere model. The endgame is the same in each case — the games become hardware-agnostic, making you a potential customer at home, at work, on vacation, anywhere.

Hits and Misses

As we noted in the beginning, Apple Arcade is definitely a steal at just $5 for the entire family. Games like Overland are priced significantly higher on other platforms like Switch. Engadget notes that Overland is priced at $25 for Switch. In other words, Apple Arcade subscription seems like a value for money subscription. Moreover, the service is exclusive to Apple devices and in the future, it might convince Android users to switch to Apple.

We also need to note that Apple is restricting the Arcade service for Apple devices. That apart, a majority of hardcore gamers are already subscribed to services like Xbox Gamepass and the Arcade might lead to a subscription overload. Typically developers prefer releasing their games for multiple platforms and Apple is likely to have a hard time keeping the games exclusive to Arcade.