Early hands-on time with Apple Arcade shows generally positive outlook

Apple Arcade is one of the company’s newest subscription services, and it will give subscribers access to over 100 games (on a rotating basis) for just $4.99 per month starting on Thursday, September 19.

And while Apple is already promoting the new service on its own, some folks have already managed to get some early, albeit brief hands-on time with it as well. Publications like The VergeGizmodoLifewireCNET, and others, all managed to write up (or video record) their impressions of the upcoming service.

And while most of the feedback is generally positive, some had some small issues along the way.

So, let’s take a look in this quick roundup of early impressions of Apple Arcade:

The Verge

Dieter Bohn of The Verge says that, “All the games are good”, which is probably about all Apple is looking for with a service like this:

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. My colleague Dieter Bohn got to try out a few of the upcoming games, and his take is: “All the games are good.” 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.


CNET praises the titles they were able to play, and specifically notes that Apple’s goal here is to make it possible for more people to play more games across a range of devices more easily. However, what’s available on day one for Apple Arcade may prove super important for Apple:

The biggest potential pitfall for Apple Arcade at the start is its Day 1 game lineup. There are several big names working on Arcade games, from Will Wright (The Sims) to Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy), and some major publishers, such as Capcom and Konami. But the first wave of games demoed by Apple during the iPhone 11 launch event looked and felt more like slightly fancier mobile phone games than cross-platform experiences that could compete with an Xbox (or at least a Nintendo Switch).

Frogger in Toy Town was an odd choice for the first trailer shown on-stage during that event, while most of the other games demoed were 2D side-scrolling experiences, not the console-like “big” games such as Beyond a Steel Sky or Sakaguchi’s Fantasian. Those are coming later, but hopefully not too much later.


In light of most of the games being developed for something like an iPhone, the experience on a larger iPad may be degraded a bit. Even so, Gizmodo thinks Apple Arcade is “probably going to be good”.

How well the games support the different playstyles depends, at least in my experience. Finji’s Overland, a strategy game set in a procedurally generated post-apocalyptic wasteland, was created for consoles initially and played well with a controller, or even with a mouse. Other titles, like Snowman’s Skate City, a side-scrolling Tony Hawk Underground-like affair, felt a little clunky with a controller but was wonderfully intuitive on the phone. That makes sense as Snowman is a mobile app developer first, having already created popular iOS games like Alto’s Adventure and Alto’s Odyssey.

Across the board, most of the games were a drag on the iPad. Quite a few of the games like to use the device itself to mimic a controller when played on touch devices. That works with a phone, which is roughly the same size as a controller from Sony or Microsoft. But using the iPad as a giant controller was really uncomfortable. My hands were too damn small to pretend a 10.2-inch iPad had joysticks on either side of the display.


Meanwhile, Mashable says Apple Arcade is a “no brainer” for iOS users.

Apple Arcade immediately feels like a confident first step for a company that has generally kept video games at arm’s reach.

That’s a funny thing to say about Apple, more than a decade after its inaugural iPhone effectively created a new market for mobile gaming. But while plenty of developers and publishers have hopped on the iOS gaming (and later, Android gaming) train, Apple itself has been content to just watch it all unfold.

No longer. Apple Arcade is a subscription service that unlocks access to a library of games that you won’t be able to find on any other mobile platform (even a la carte from the iOS App Store). The premise is simple: for $4.99 per month, roughly the cost of one or two mobile games, you get access to an entire library of titles, plus any add-ons released for the same.


Lifewife believes Apple Arcade shows promise, even if it might be too early to say how successful it might be.

It’s too soon to tell if Arcade has a title like that, but, when it launches on September 19, Arcade will not want for variety. Recently, I had the opportunity to use Apple Arcade to try a dozen or so titles, all of which are set to launch exclusively on Apple Arcade, and many of which are playable across multiple Apple platforms, including iOS (iPhone and iPad), tvOS (Apple TV), and macOS (iMac).

And finally, we will wrap it up with Vector, Rene Ritchie’s podcast from Mobile Nations, who is very positive about the potential and the impact from Apple Arcade:

So, how do you feel about Apple Arcade? Are you counting down the days until the subscription service launches later this week? Excited about any specific games you’ve seen marketed for the service?