Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
63,481
30,716


Some game developers are dissatisfied with Apple Arcade amid concerns about the subscription service's future, a new report claims.

applearcade.jpg

Sources speaking to mobilegamer.biz described a "smell of death" around Apple's games subscription service and noted the difference between the company's investment in TV and music, and its interest in games. "At the very top of the company there needs to be a passion and respect for games, and there just isn't," one developer said. "It all depends on how much buy-in there is from those guys at the top, and I don't think they really value Arcade or invest in it the same way you see them invest in music or TV."

The service initially touted generous upfront payments to developers. Most games released on Apple Arcade in the service's first few years were apparently profitable, providing a lifeline for studios. "Despite its imperfections, we're very very happy Arcade exists. It has made premium games viable on mobile," one games studio executive said, explaining that their company would not exist without Apple's support.

The report claims that Apple Arcade's payouts to developers have been falling for several years, noticeably starting in October 2020. Both upfront payments and the per-play "bonus pool" have shrunk, and Apple is said to be evasive about how these sums are calculated. "They have this opaque metric that they call a qualifying session, and bonus pool payments are made based on that," one source said. "But no-one knows what a qualifying session actually is – it has something to do with if the game was launched, how long the player played for and how often they return. But it's a black box, really."

"App Store Greats" are not eligible for upfront payments, receiving bonus pool contributions only. As a result, games with shorter narratives and premium indie titles earn less than games with longer-term retention. This apparently explains the slow loss of certain types of games on the service. Moreover, there has apparently been a strong shift toward prominent family-friendly IP in Apple's commissioning decisions, with one or two new "App Store Greats" per month. Very few original games are greenlit for the service unless they meet these requirements.

While some developers spoke about their relationship positively, others described the company as "vindictive" or "spiteful" in its dealings. Some developers claim that the Apple Arcade team has not made its strategy shift and overall direction clear, and often simply stops replying to emails. "I got the sense they didn't really know where they were going with it all – almost like they weren't sure if they'd have jobs at the end of it," one studio representative said.

Developers similarly spoke about their difficulties getting marketing support or obtaining features on the App Store, even when their games are struggling to get traction on Apple Arcade. "We have to basically beg for featuring from Apple. Getting that banner featuring at the top is like squeezing blood from a stone," one developer added.

Apple "rebooted" the subscription service in April 2021, cancelling a large number of projects. Some developers believe that Netflix's competitive move into gaming subscriptions has prompted Apple to consider another Apple Arcade reboot, but the long-term future of the service is unclear.

Article Link: Game Developers Describe 'Smell of Death' Around Apple Arcade
 

tekcor

macrumors member
Jun 27, 2007
73
225
I really hope Arcade doesn't go away. I tell my kids I will approve anything from the Arcade, since I know I can trust the content. No microtransactions, no ads, no manipulative gameplay... you know, actual games. I don't have to scrutinize Arcade content like I have to non-Arcade games, which are more often ad platforms with games attached.
 

centauratlas

macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2003
1,821
3,773
Florida
A 4 player, single screen game like Sackboy on PS5 would be great. Ditto a racing game like Mario Kart on the switch would do well. The key is to have games that the family can play together vs ones that isolate.

Games like that on the AVP would be amazing too.
 

BigBag

macrumors member
Apr 13, 2012
43
88
I really hope Arcade doesn't go away. I tell my kids I will approve anything from the Arcade, since I know I can trust the content. No microtransactions, no ads, no manipulative gameplay... you know, actual games. I don't have to scrutinize Arcade content like I have to non-Arcade games, which are more often ad platforms with games attached.
I agree with this. People here will crow because Apple Arcade didn’t reinvent gaming subscriptions, but the service absolutely serves a useful purpose and I hope it remains.
 

cateye

macrumors 6502a
Oct 18, 2011
621
2,459
They are just realising no one wants to pay a subscription for games.

XBox Game Pass says hello. Real games, real value, broad support across PC, XBox, and streaming. Solid discounts on buy-to-own. Think of that, an actual gamer-oriented service instead of Apple's half-baked insult. Apple's ridiculous product isn't compelling and deserves its failure, that's the actual problem. The tilting at windmills about subscriptions is tiresome.
 

Cryates

macrumors 68040
Nov 19, 2013
3,312
5,209
One thing that’s devastatingly bad about Apple Arcade on the App Store is that they bury some of their best titles. Example being that right now if you go to the Arcade tab on the App Store, you’ll be lucky to even find mention of TMNT Splintered Fate which has been heavily lauded as a terrific game (gets compared to Hades) AND Apple has exclusivity on it right now. Dead Cells, Stardew Valley, Limbo/Inside… all great titles that are buried in leu of some filler games.
 

Spaceboy88

macrumors regular
Apr 2, 2005
205
438
New York, NY
+1 loving Apple Arcade, both for myself and my family.

I'm a big gamer and will use my PS5 for my more intense gaming experiences, but that doesn't mean that a service like Apple Arcade, which is a great addition to the Apple One bundle, doesn't also fit in to my routine. I absolutely love that there are no microtransactions or ads in the games and that feel totally comfortable for my young kids to play everything there. It's the perfect way to play fun, casual games. I'm not expecting any 100 hour Zelda-like gaming experiences here, mostly quick, fun games to pass the time.

That said, there is a lot of garbage in the Arcade. I'd rather see Apple take a quality over quantity approach with the games there. They could easily remove at least half of what's there and nobody would miss them.
 

DestructoTim

macrumors member
Aug 30, 2021
69
167
I hate to break it to them, but a lot of these developers games are the problem. I don’t know who is in charge of the selection process, but they need to be replaced. There is like 15 good games on the service and the rest are uninspired and all look they could have been made by the same person. Many are too niche for the masses, and others are just plain bad games. There are a couple bangers, but not enough engaged or sought after games to keep interest in a monthly subscription.

I think the best solution for both parties is to remove most of these games from the service and use whatever funds were going to them and add in new games that can actually pull in players. Even if that means dropping 50 games and bringing in 15 exciting games.

I am guessing the devs that are complaining to the press are not from titles like Sonic and NBA, but the folks who would be more appreciated on itch. Hey I mostly play indie games only, but most of the games on AA are never going to be in demand, I hate to say it, but they feel souless.
 

cateye

macrumors 6502a
Oct 18, 2011
621
2,459
That said, there is a lot of garbage in the Arcade. I'd rather see Apple take a quality over quantity approach with the games there. They could easily remove at least half of what's there and nobody would miss them.

But that would require Apple to exercise judgement based on an understanding and respect for gaming as an artform and passtime, which they've shown for 40+ years they are physically and philosophically incapable of. Notice how in this article, and the countless developer stories about submitting work to Apple Arcade on X and elsewhere, we constantly hear about the typical Apple black box? No feedback, no understanding of monetization, no vision, no embracing of broader gaming trends, no person who publicly represents the platform with passion (alliteration for the win! :p )

So of course the service is a crapshoot of winners and losers and a mess of go-nowhere-isms. Every bit of scorn it gets it deserves, in spades.
 

Spaceboy88

macrumors regular
Apr 2, 2005
205
438
New York, NY
But that would require Apple to exercise judgement based on an understanding and respect for gaming as an artform and passtime, which they've shown for 40+ years they are physically and philosophically incapable of. Notice how in this article, and the countless developer stories about submitting work to Apple Arcade on X and elsewhere, we hear stories of the typical Apple black box? No feedback, no understanding of monetization, no vision, no embracing of broader gaming trends, no person who publicly represents the platform with passion.

So of course the service is a crapshoot of winners and losers and a mess of go-nowhere-isms. Every bit of scorn it gets it deserves, in spades.
You're absolutely right. You can see that in the way they run the service. They'll get some huge games in there like the NBA 2K games, which are just as good as they would be on Nintendo Switch, but do the bare minimum to promote it. Also, I still have no idea if the games are mandated to support controllers or not. There's also a lot of games that are available for iPad but not on macOS.

I think for the price, Apple Arcade is a great deal, especially for causal gamers and parents, but the problem is they don't have people that understand **** about how to market and source games that people want to play.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,558
6,058
I really hope Arcade doesn't go away. I tell my kids I will approve anything from the Arcade, since I know I can trust the content. No microtransactions, no ads, no manipulative gameplay... you know, actual games. I don't have to scrutinize Arcade content like I have to non-Arcade games, which are more often ad platforms with games attached.

Apple is responsible for all those business models you hate. Apple's insistence on taking a 30% cut on everything drove developers to adopt ads, since Apple didn't take a cut on those.

Using ads instead of payments upfront meant that people who did want to just charge were competing against a tidal wave of "free". It became totally unviable to try to charge for an app.

So they went for the other "free" option - in-app purchases.

The whole point of the rules and review process was initially to ensure quality in the app store, under Jobs. Ensuring quality meant spending money though. Cook was against that, so he cut the review process to the bone.

Instead, Cook found a new purpose to this all - use the rules to ensure Apple's own apps didn't have to have any competition from the App Store.

Under Jobs, I think there was a chance that the App Store would have been great. He was constantly revising the rules to fix issues, making customers and developers love the App Store. Under Cook, the focus has flipped to just maximizing this quarter's profits, even when it's openly hostile to both developers and customers.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.