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Apple Reportedly Canceling Some Apple Arcade Games and Changing Direction

Over at Bloomberg, Mark Gurman and Jason Schreier report that Apple has canceled some upcoming games as the company struggles to keep subscribers on its $4.99-per-month Apple Arcade gaming service. Apple has reportedly informed developers that it is changing its strategy, seeking out more addicting games that will retain subscribers. Bloomberg has its problems (see “Apple Categorically Denies Businessweek’s China Hack Report,” 8 October 2018), but Gurman is known for reliable sources and accurate reporting.

Apple Arcade

While the struggles of Apple News have been well-publicized (see “The New York Times Pulls Out of Apple News,” 30 June 2020), this is the first hint of trouble related to Apple Arcade, which debuted last year (see “Apple Unveils Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ Prices and Dates,” 10 September 2019). We’re not surprised—most of the Apple Arcade lineup is extremely shallow, and Apple has done a weak job of marketing it. The eagerly awaited Beyond a Steel Sky game dropped on the Friday of WWDC with nary a bit of promotion.

More concerning is this new direction Apple is taking. In its quest for services revenue, will Apple resort to the same sort of sketchy tactics employed by social networks and many mobile game developers to get users hooked keep users engaged?

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Comments About Apple Reportedly Canceling Some Apple Arcade Games and Changing Direction

Notable Replies

  1. If Apple wants to do gaming then they need to engage the mainstream gaming companies and the culture. They have been avoiding it like the plague since forever. The Arcade seemed to be an attempt to bypass mainstream gaming. They need to engage the professional gaming companies directly and they need to give them what they need not what they say they want. Apple needs to solve their problems vs. caving to their demands.

    There are some technical hurdles around gaming on Mac but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is cultural. Technical problems are solvable. There is no good reason that games cannot run on Mac other than the cultural divide. That’s the biggest problem.

  2. I’m still subscribed, but probably won’t be for long. I like some of the games a lot, but I detest that every time I open a game I have to wait for the Apple Arcade billboard for far longer than I have tolerance for, then I have to keep waiting for the game to load.

    The mac versions don’t work well via screen sharing (huge lags in mouse responsiveness that I don’t get from any other apps), and they often don’t work with a real (scroll wheel) mouse. It’s nearly impossible for me to expand a card stack in Where Cards Fall.

    If Apple is having trouble with engagement, they should start by making them less frustrating, especially the casual ones–if I only have 5 minutes to play something, I’m not going to waste 20% of that waiting for it to load–I’ll just open a non-arcade game.

  3. I’m not anything resembling a gamer, but I’m going to take a guess on this one. It would not make sense for Apple to try to compete with stuff that Xbox and PlayStation owners already paid for, or probably will pay for, especially since they are allowing Arcade members to use Xbox and PlayStation controllers on Arcade. And IIRC, they want Arcade games to run on iPad, iPhone and Mac. Rather than competing with the major blockbuster titles, they are creating a super cool distribution platform for indie production studios, Like the film distributors that work with studios such as Spike Lee’s Fifty Acres And A Mule, Quentin Tarantino’s A Band Apart, and the studios Margo Robbie and Greta Gerwig started. It’s a decidedly “think different” approach to gaming…all stuff that I don’t think has been done before on a long term basis. And IIRC, there’s just a $5.00 per month fee, no nickel and diming in games, or big purchase costs for games.

    So like the rest of the entertainment business, if a movie or a show isn’t selling tickets, a TV series isn’t getting viewers, or a record isn’t getting airtime, the plug gets pulled.

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