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Apple Arcade has the 'smell of death' around it, devs say

Game developers are reportedly worried about Apple Arcade's future.
By

Published onFebruary 26, 2024

Apple Arcade logo on iPhone 15 Pro Max
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • A new report doesn’t paint a pretty picture of how Apple is handling its subscription gaming service.
  • Game developers describe Apple as “famously vindictive” and “spiteful” in its dealings, with one dev saying Apple Arcade has the “smell of death” around it.
  • The company may be preparing to reboot the service to better compete with Netflix’s gaming service.

Apple Arcade launched back in 2019, offering a subscription service that would bring new premium games to the platform without in-app purchases or advertisements. Since then, the service has declined in a way that has game developers wondering about its future.

In a report from mobilegamer.biz, a number of game devs are raising concerns about Apple Arcade. The outlet’s sources are citing various issues with declining payouts, canceled projects, the company’s apathy toward the service, and more.

When the service rolled out, upfront payments were “very generous,” as well as the per-play payouts afterward, a source told the outlet. Most games were reportedly profitable right out of the gate, which encouraged more premium games to come to the service. However, it appears this started changing in late 2020.

The sources claim Apple started to reduce the per-play “bonus pool” payouts around October 2020 and later started canceling projects after a reboot in spring 2021. This led to the company “piss[ing] off a lot of people,” according to one source. Apple also reportedly started slashing upfront payments as well.

It seems Apple isn’t being very clear with Arcade’s direction either. Apple is reportedly laser-focused on family-friendly games that have a big IP attached to them, but hasn’t told that to its partners. The outlet says developers who have talked about putting their games on the service have walked away confused.

One studio head said Arcade has the “smell of death” and the people running it appear to be unsure of its direction. It’s “almost like they weren’t sure if they’d have jobs at the end of it,” the source told mobilegamer.biz.

The report also mentions Apple is “famously vindictive” and “spiteful” when dealing with devs. This appears to especially be the case when the tech giant learns that the dev has signed a deal with Netflix.

Netflix is currently pushing its own competing gaming subscription service on its platform. This has seen popular titles like Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, Death’s Door, Valiant Hearts, and more come to the service. The devs believe that Netflix’s presence in the space will force Apple to continue to be competitive and relevant.

While there are quite a few developers who are worried about Apple Arcade, there are some who were more positive about the platform. “Despite its imperfections, we’re very very happy Arcade exists. It has made premium games viable on mobile,” one dev told the publication.

Although the service has previously experienced a reboot, it’s believed another could be coming in the future to help Arcade better compete with Netflix’s service.

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