Apple is pouring money into video games, so much so that its gaming service Apple Arcade might become a bigger cash cow for the tech giant than Apple TV+ and Apple News. That’s a lot of money. Even your freshman year roommate who maxed out his cash supply on Call of Duty DLC packs would be impressed.
According a report in Financial Times, Apple is spending “hundreds of millions” to get more than 100 of the best and brightest video games onto its platform—and ensure no other platform can touch them, at least for a good chunk of time. Its total budget for Apple Arcade is reportedly on track to blow past $ 500 million for the year. And it’s easy to see why. Gaming is a massive industry right now, and more and more subscription services are crowding the market; Google introduced us to Stadia just last month. Apple needs to get a foot in the door.
So what are all those millions going toward? Besides the big brands that we already know Arcade will showcase, like Sonic the Hedgehog from Sega, Disney, Lego, and Cartoon Network, Apple is betting on indie video game titles from studios like Annapurna Interactive and Bossa to hook an intensely passionate audience that will eagerly pay for unlimited play on Arcade. (Find a full list of confirmed games for Apple Arcade here.) You can get an idea of what those indie creators are working on thanks to this video Apple released in March when it first announced Apple Arcade.
In return, Apple wants the titles all to itself for at least a little while. Financial Times says Apple is “offering developers an extra incentive” if they withhold their games from Apple’s biggest competitor, Google Play’s app store, or console gaming subscriptions like Xbox’s Game Pass. But after a few months of Apple exclusivity, those titles will make it onto PCs and other consoles like Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.
Apple Arcade is a subscription service (pricing TBD) that will launch sometime this fall for mobile, desktop, and TV. Subscribers will have access to over 100 exclusive titles, free from ads and micro-transactions, with more joining the library regularly, ranging from AR to multiplayer. It will also allow offline play. And although its budget is impressive, it doesn’t match the reported $ 1 billion Apple spent on Apple TV+ in 2017 to get Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, J.J. Abrams, and a bunch of other extremely famous celebrities on board with original television shows and movies. But hey, the payoff could be bigger. Gamers are passionate, spendy people.