Apple’s new Apple Arcade subscription-based gaming service is finally here. It’s basically Apple’s way of helping customers sort through the chaff in the App Store, as the highly curated service features premium games that are untainted by in-app purchases and ads. If it works as well as it sounds, it could elevate the perception of mobile gaming in general.
Got questions? Fortunately we have plenty of answers. Here’s everything we know about Apple Arcade so far.
Updated 10/4/19: Apple Arcade is available on Macs running the macOS Catalina beta. Here’s how to sign up.
What is Apple Arcade?
Apple Arcade is a gaming subscription service for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS that Apple said will initially feature more than 100 “new and exclusive” games. (As of October 4, though, there are only 71.) Apple is “handpicking” the games that you’ll get with the service and working with highly regarded game developers such as Hironobu Sakaguchi and Ken Wong. Apple Arcade games have no in-app purchases, are downloadable for offline play, and can be played across the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.
When will it be available?
During its September iPhone event, Apple announced that Apple Arcade will launch on Thursday, September 19. As of October 4, it’s available on iOS 13, iPad OS 13, tvOS 13, and the macOS Catalina beta. Read our iOS 13 FAQ to learn how to install the operating system.
How do I sign up for Apple Arcade?
There isn’t an Apple Arcade app. In iOS 13, iPad OS 13, and macOS, you access it through the App Store app. (You’ll need to be running the macOS Catalina beta to run it on Mac for the moment, and here’s how to download the beta profile. We expect the official release of Catalina to drop sometimes in the next few days, so it might be wise to wait for that if you’re not on the beta already.)
Look for the Arcade button at the bottom of the App Store app (or in the left column on macOS). A sign-up screen with a Try It Free button will appear. You get the first month free, then it’s $4.99 per month. Tap the button to sign up.
You’ll need to enter your Apple ID password. And you’ll have to confirm your subscription purchase a few times.
Once you’re done with the sign up, the Arcade section of the App Store shows what games are available to you. To access a game, tap on it in the App Store, then tap the Get button. When the game is done installing on your device, the Get button turns into a Play button, and you can tap it to launch the game. The game app icon will also appear on your device’s Home page.
On the Apple TV, you’ll see a separate tab for Apple Arcade on your home screen. It’s pink and has a controller icon. Press it, and you’ll go through much the same process.
How much does it cost?
Apple Arcade costs $4.99 per month, and you’ll also get a one-month free trial.
Which Apple devices will allow me to play Apple Arcade games?
Apple says “subscribers can play Apple Arcade games across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.” Apple also says that you can pick up where you left off when you switch to another Apple device. Currently all the stated devices are updated, although the number of games varies from system to system. The iPad, for instance, has 71 games, while (at the time of writing), macOS only has 23.
Do Apple Arcade games have microtransactions or in-app purchases?
No. In Apple’s words, “since every game includes access to the full experience, including all game features, content, and future updates, no additional purchases will be required.”
Do Apple Arcade games have ads?
No. On a related note, Apple says Apple Arcade has no ad tracking.
How do I access Apple Arcade games?
On iOS 13, iPadOS 13, and macOS, you can find Apple Arcade in its own tab along the bottom bar of the App Store app alongside the usual Games tab. You can sign up for the subscription service and download games through that menu. On Apple TVs running tvOS 13, you’ll see a separate tab with a controller icon for Apple Arcade. Once you download the games, you’ll see each game listed with its own icons on the Apple TV home screen.
Can you download Apple Arcade games for offline play?
Yes. It’s essentially like downloading an existing non-freemium game like The Room, but the game is tied to the Apple Arcade subscription service rather than a one-time purchase.
Is Apple Arcade a remote game streaming service like Google’s Stadia?
No. All Apple Arcade games involve downloads, much as we see with the existing App Store. As it stands, nothing about Apple Arcade will rely on streaming.
Does Apple Arcade support family sharing?
Does Apple curate the games on Apple Arcade?
Yes. Apple says it is “handpicking the games in Apple Arcade” and that curates them “based on originality, quality, creativity, fun, and their appeal to players of all ages.” If all goes well, this approach should allow Apple to sidestep the quality concerns that are causing controversies on more open services like Steam.
Are Apple Arcade games available on other systems?
It depends on which systems you’re talking about. Apple says that Apple Arcade games “will not be available on any other mobile platform or in any other subscription service” (emphasis ours).
So while you won’t see an Apple Arcade game on Android, you might see it on, say, the PlayStation 4 or the Nintendo Switch.
The upcoming Shantae 5 is one example of a game that will come to Apple Arcade in addition to non-mobile platforms like PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Will I still be able to buy games on the App Store without an Apple Arcade subscription?
Yes. There’s no sign that the existing games model will be going away, as it works fine for freemium games like Idle Heroes or Toon Blast. Keep in mind that inclusion in Apple Arcade comes with mobile exclusivity, so games that are also available on Android will still be found on the regular App Store.
Apple is focusing on “handpicked” games for Apple Arcade, so there’s little doubt that the library will be much smaller than the wider App Store.
Am I able to buy Apple Arcade games individually from the regular App Store if I don’t want to pay the subscription?
The games are exclusive to the service, so no.
Are there demos for Apple Arcade games?
No, unless you count a free trial of the subscription itself. In fact, Apple partly envisions Apple Arcade as a way of letting players try out non-freemium games with more freedom than the App Store currently allows (which is basically none). In its own words, “rather than pay up front for each game, a subscription to Apple Arcade will give players the opportunity to try any game in the service without risk.” The service has a free trial, though, as we’ve seen with both Apple Music and Apple News+.
Am able to keep playing Apple Arcade games if I decide to stop subscribing to Apple Arcade?
Can I use controllers with Apple Arcade games?
Yes. In additional to traditional MFi (Made for iOS) controllers, you can pair some specific Bluetooth controllers for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with either your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. Since many Apple Arcade games are playable on Mac and Apple TV (where controller support is more common), it’s possible that the majority of games will support them. Here’s a list of all the Apple Arcade games known to support controllers.
Is Apple doing anything to assist with the development of games on Apple Arcade?
Yes. The extent of Apple’s participation isn’t clear (and I’m sure it varies per title), but Apple says it’s “contributing to the development costs and working closely with creators to bring the games to life.”
What are all the games announced for Apple Arcade so far?
Apple said that “over 100 new and exclusive games will be available at launch,” but there were 53 available when Apple Arcade first became available to select beta testers on September 16. As of October 9, the list was 71 games long. More games will be added over time.
- Agent Intercept
- Assemble with Care
- The Artful Escape
- Atone: Heart Of The Elder Tree
- BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner
- Beyond A Steel Sky
- Big Time Sports
- Bleak Sword
- The Bradwell Conspiracy
- Card of Darkness
- Cat Quest II
- ChuChu Rocket! Universe
- Cricket Through the Ages
- Dead End Job
- Dear Reader
- Dodo Peak
- Don’t Bug Me!
- Doomsday Vault
- Down in Bermuda
- Dread Nautical
- The Enchanted World
- Enter The Construct
- Exit the Gungeon
- Fledgling Heroes
- Frogger In Toy Town
- The Get Out Kids
- Hexaflip: The Action Puzzler
- Hot Lava
- HyperBrawl Tournament
- Jenny LeClue—Detectivu
- King’s League II
- Kings Of The Castle
- LEGO Brawls
- Mini Motorways
- Murder Mystery Machine
- Mr. Turtle
- Neo Cab
- No Way Home
- Oceanhorn 2: Knights Of The Lost Realm
- Operator 41
- Over the Alps
- Painty Mob
- The Pathless
- The Pinball Wizard
- Projection: First Light
- Punch Planet
- Rayman Mini
- Red Reign
- Sayonara Wild Hearts
- Shantae and the Seven Sirens
- Shinsekai Into the Depths
- Skate City
- Sneaky Sasquatch
- Sonic Racing
- Speed Demons
- Stellar Commanders
- Stranded Sails
- Super Impossible Road
- Tangle Tower
- Towaga: Among Shadows
- UFO On Tape: First Contact
- Various Daylife
- Way of the Turtle
- What the Golf?
- Where Cards Fall
- Winding Worlds
- Word Laces
Does Apple plan to release more games for Apple Arcade?
Yes. Apple says “new games will be added to the service on a regular basis.” At the moment, it’s anyone’s guess as to what “a regular basis” means.