Apple’s new Apple Arcade subscription-based gaming service is 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 all goes well, it could elevate the perception of mobile gaming in general.
Got questions? We’ve got plenty of answers.
Updated 03/05/21: SP!NG is now available.
What is Apple Arcade?
Apple Arcade is a gaming subscription service for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS that features well over 100 games. 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.
What does it run on?
Apple Arcade is now available on iOS 13, iPad OS 13, tvOS 13, and macOS Catalina or later.
How do I sign up for Apple Arcade?
There isn’t an Apple Arcade app on mobile devices. In iOS 13, iPad OS 13, and macOS, you access it through the App Store app. 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 or $49.99 per year. 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 joystick icon. Press it, and you’ll go through much the same process.
How much does Apple Arcade cost?
Apple Arcade costs $4.99 per month, and you’ll also get a one-month free trial. You can also sign up for the annual plan, which is $49.99. (Apple introduced this new annual plan in December 2019.)
If you’re currently on the $4.99 month-to-month plan and want to switch to the annual plan, you can do so on your iPhone or iPad. Open the App Store app, then tap your account icon in the upper right. Tap Subscriptions, then tap the entry for Apple Arcade. Here, you can switch to the annual plan.
Apple Arcade is also included in the Apple One subscription bundles.
How do I cancel Apple Arcade?
First off, keep in mind that if you cancel Apple Arcade before your one-month free trial is up, you won’t be able to keep playing the games unless you resubscribe. If you’re okay with that, you can use the same process you use to cancel any other subscription service on iOS. Here’s the easiest way to do it on the iPhone and iPad:
- Open the App Store app and press on your profile photo in the upper right-hand corner.
- In the screen that pops up, press Subscriptions near the top of the page.
- You’ll then see a list of active subscriptions, and Apple Arcade should be listed there. Press it.
- You’ll either see Cancel Free Trial or Cancel Subscription toward the middle of the page that appears. Press whatever option is available.
- You’ll then see a prompt that says Confirm Cancellation, and when this pops up, press Confirm.
- You’re done.
And here’s how to cancel Apple Arcade on the Mac:
- Open the App Store app and then press the icon with your profile photo in the lower left-hand corner.
- The Account window will appear, and you should then press View Information in the upper right. Enter your password when/if prompted.
- When your Account Information appears, scroll down to the Manage section and press Manage to the right of Subscriptions.
- When the list of your active subscriptions appears, press Edit to the right of Apple Arcade.
- Toward the middle of the page that appears, you’ll see a button that says either Cancel Free Trial or Cancel Subscription. Press the option that shows up.
- You’ll then see a prompt that says Confirm Cancellation, and when this pops up, press Confirm.
- You’re done.
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 supported, although the number of games available for Mac and Apple TV is a tad smaller because a handful of Apple Arcade games rely on touch controls.
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?
Yes. One $4.99 per month subscription can be shared between up to six people.
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.
Shantae 5 is one example of a game that’s available one 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 on iOS, 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 upfront 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 I 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), the majority of games will support them. Here’s a list of all the Apple Arcade games known to support controllers.
It seems to be a requirement for Apple Arcade developers, as every game released from early 2020 onward includes official controller support.
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 games have been released for Apple Arcade so far?
Apple said that “over 100 new and exclusive games will be available at launch,” although Apple didn’t reach 100 until November 8. More games will be added over time.
- Agent Intercept
- Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
- All of You
- Assemble with Care
- The Artful Escape
- Atone: Heart Of The Elder Tree
- Ballistic Baseball
- BattleSky Brigade: Harpooner
- Beyond A Steel Sky
- Beyond Blue
- Big Time Sports
- Bleak Sword
- The Bradwell Conspiracy
- Butter Royale
- Card of Darkness
- Cat Quest II
- Charrua Soccer
- ChuChu Rocket! Universe
- The Collage Atlas
- Cricket Through the Ages
- Crossy Road Castle
- Dead End Job
- Dear Reader
- Dodo Peak
- Don’t Bug Me!
- Doomsday Vault (Macworld’s impressions)
- Down in Bermuda
- Dread Nautical
- The Enchanted World
- Enter The Construct
- Exit the Gungeon
- Fallen Knight
- Fledgling Heroes
- A Fold Apart
- Frogger In Toy Town
- Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows
- The Get Out Kids
- Hexaflip: The Action Puzzler
- Hot Lava
- HyperBrawl Tournament
- Jenny LeClue—Detectivu
- Jumper Jon
- King’s League II
- Kings Of The Castle
- The Last Campfire
- Legend of the Skyfish 2
- LEGO Brawls
- LEGO Builder’s Journey
- Little Orpheus
- Loud House: Outta Control
- The Lullaby of Life
- Manifold Garden
- Marble It Up: Mayhem!
- Marble Knights
- Mind Symphony
- Mini Motorways
- A Monster's Expedition
- The Mosaic
- Murder Mystery Machine
- Mr. Turtle
- Neo Cab
- Next Stop Nowhere
- Nightmare Farm
- No Way Home
- NUTS - A Surveillance Mystery
- Oceanhorn: Chronos Dungeon
- Oceanhorn 2: Knights Of The Lost Realm
- Operator 41
- Over the Alps
- Pac-Man Party Royale
- Painty Mob
- The Pathless
- The Pinball Wizard
- Populus Run
- Projection: First Light
- Punch Planet
- Rayman Mini
- Red Reign
- Redout: Space Assault
- Reigns: Beyond
- Rosie’s Reality
- Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time
- Sayonara Wild Hearts
- Secret Oops!
- Shantae and the Seven Sirens
- Shinsekai Into the Depths
- Skate City
- Slash Quest!
- Sneaky Sasquatch
- Sociable Soccer
- Sonic Racing
- South of the Circle
- Speed Demons
- Spire Blast
- SpongeBob: Patty Pursuit
- Star Fetched
- Stellar Commanders
- Stranded Sails
- Super Impossible Road
- Super Mega Mini Party
- The Survivalists
- Survival Z
- Takeshi and Hiroshi
- Tales of Memo
- Tangle Tower
- Things That Go Bump
- Towaga: Among Shadows
- Towers of Everland
- UFO On Tape: First Contact
- Unleash the Light
- Ultimate Rivals: The Rink
- Various Daylife
- Warp Drive
- Way of the Turtle
- What the Golf?
- Where Cards Fall
- Winding Worlds
- Word Laces
- Yaga The Roleplaying Folktale
- Zombie Rollerz: Pinball Heroes
How frequently does Apple plan to release new games?
Games are almost always released on Fridays, but not every Friday. The release schedule is sporadic—some Fridays there are no new games released, some have one game released, some more than one game. Sometimes there will be no new game release, but existing games will get a big update.
On average, new games are released at a rate of about one every 2-3 weeks.