Apple Arcade

GameClub offers mobile gaming’s greatest hits for $5 per month

Posted by | app-store, Apple Arcade, Apps, Arcade, gameclub, games, Gaming, Mobile, mobile gaming, Startups, subscription service | No Comments

Apple Arcade introduced the idea of all-you-can-eat subscription-based mobile gaming to the mainstream. Google Play Pass soon followed as a way to subscribe to a sizable collection of both apps and games on Android devices. Today, a startup called GameClub is launching in the U.S. to offer an alternative. For $4.99 per month, mobile consumers will be able to access a library that includes some of the best games to have ever hit the App Store.

To be clear, GameClub is not a cloud gaming platform, like Google Stadia. It’s a way to subscribe to actual App Store games, similar to Arcade. In GameClub’s case, however, the focus is not on new releases but on quality games that already have proven track records and high ratings.

In fact, many GameClub games have made Apple’s own editorially selected “Game of the Year” lists in years past. And like the games offered on Apple Arcade, they don’t have ads or any in-app purchases.

LegendaryWars2

At launch, GameClub’s library includes more than 100 titles, with around half that available for play today. More titles will roll out on a weekly basis in the months ahead. Combined, the games have over 100 million collective downloads, the company says.

On GameClub, you’ll find games like: Super Crate Box, Hook Champ, Mage Gauntlet, Space Miner, Forget-Me-Not, MiniSquadron, Plunderland, Pocket RPG, Sword of Fargoal, Incoboto, Tales of the Adventure Company, Hook Worlds, Orc: Vengeance, Mr. Particle-Man, Legendary Wars, Deathbat, The Path to Luma, Grimm, Zombie Match, Faif, iBlast Moki 2, Kano, Baby Lava Bounce, Run Roo Run, Gears and many others.

It’s a selection that extends across gaming categories, like Action, Arcade, Puzzle, Adventure, Platformer, Retro, Role Playing, Simulation, Strategy and more.

To use the service, you first download the main GameClub app, which becomes the hub for your GameClub activities. You then sign up for the $4.99 per month subscription, which includes a 30-day free trial. Within the main app, you can browse the available titles as well as read editorial content like in-depth overviews and histories, get tips and learn about gaming strategies.

MiniSquadron2

The startup was founded last year by game industry vets Dan Sherman and Oliver Pedersen.

Sherman, GameClub CEO, has worked in the gaming industry for around 17 years, including time spent at EA and his own startup, Tilting Point. His experience has involved, predominantly, signing content partnerships with game creators. Pedersen, meanwhile, built backend systems and platforms for games, including at Yahoo Games.

Though GameClub is seemingly arriving after Apple Arcade’s debut, it actually began before that. The startup was founded in 2018, ahead of any Apple Arcade rumors. It went live on iOS outside the U.S. before Arcade launched.

HookWorlds2W

The founders say they were inspired to address the issues caused by the free-to-play model that has infiltrated the gaming industry. In addition, they had witnessed a decline in consumers’ willingness to purchase content upfront, which was impacting the industry.

“I was seeing all these amazing game developers leave mobile because the types of games they make are not the types of games that monetize through in-app purchases and ads,” Sherman tells TechCrunch. “The free-to-play model actually only works for a handful of genres,” he explains. “A lot of companies make a lot of money through a very small number of genres and game experiences — to the exclusion of a lot of other types of genres that GameClub is bringing back — action, adventures, arcade, tower defense — anything that can be completed.”

With free-to-play, games are built around perpetual retention loops. “And the freemium model comes out of the casino industry, not the premium game industry,” Sherman points out.

But because this is how games could make money, it led to homogeneity in the marketplace, he says.

SuperQuickHook1

GameClub aims to offer a subscription to the premium games that got left behind.

They are meant to be wholesome and fun, not overly addictive. They’re not designed to manipulate you into spending money. You simply pay your subscription fee every month to access the catalog, then play unencumbered.

Thanks to Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass, consumers are now comfortable with the idea of the subscription model for mobile games. And other services — like Spotify Netflix, and Xbox Game Pass, for example — have pushed the idea of subscription access to content across platforms and genres.

SleepingPrince1W

GameClub is different from Arcade, however, because it’s not funding the development of content upfront — at least, not yet. Instead, it’s forging agreements with largely indie developers to release their existing IP as a GameClub exclusive.

This may include bringing an older game into the 64-bit era — something GameClub handles on their behalf.

“Many of [the GameClub titles] have been gone for many years,” says Sherman. “It’s with our team, our technology and our developers that they’ve been brought back. And they’ve been brought back in a way that is 100% using the original code and the exact same design…but making them look and feel new, with higher resolution, Retina Display assets and by optimizing for the latest screen sizes and configurations,” he adds.

The company doesn’t discuss the business model for GameClub, but it’s not the same as Apple Arcade’s pay-upfront model.

BreachAndClear2W

What Sherman could say is that the more important the game is to the GameClub service, the more money the creator makes. Additionally, GameClub says it’s transparent with developers about its subscription revenue, so there’s no question about which games are earning or why.

The same can’t be said for Apple Arcade, which is a total black box to the point that consumers don’t know which Arcade games are most popular, developers can’t see how they’re doing compared with others and third-party measurement firms have no data.

Of course, there could be concerns that GameClub exists in a gray area, with regard to App Store policy. Those with longer memories may recall that Apple banned app-stores-within-a-store starting back in 2012. The company had kicked out apps that recommended other apps like AppHero, FreeAppADay, Daily App Dream, AppShopper and more. It also banned the more popular app recommendation service AppGratis the following year.

But Apple’s concern was that these apps were leveraging their power to manipulate App Store charts and rankings, often charging for that service. GameClub, on the other hand, plays fairly. Its service also benefits Apple, by offering subscription access to quality games that couldn’t thrive as free-to-play titles.

CursedTreasure2W

Longer-term, GameClub wants to produce its own original content and offer its service across platforms, starting with Google Play, but eventually tackling PC and console gaming.

The startup is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Copenhagen. In addition to the founders, it includes Eli Hodapp, the former editor-in-chief of the popular game news and review site TouchArcade, and COO Britt Myers, the former chief product officer of subscription-based edtech apps platform Homer.

With the close of a seed round last week, GameClub is backed by $4.6 million in funding.

Investors from a round that closed last year include GC VR Gaming Tracker Fund, CRCM Ventures, Watertower Ventures, Ride Ventures, BreakawayGrowth Fund and others. New investors include GFR Fund, Gramercy Fund, Century Gold and others.

GameClub is available on the App Store.

Powered by WPeMatico

Apple’s iOS and iPadOS 13 support multiple PS4 or Xbox One controllers, which could be huge for Arcade

Posted by | app-store, Apple, Apple Arcade, apple tv, Bluetooth, Gadgets, Gaming, iOS, iPad, ipad air, iPads, iPhone, Nintendo, tablet computers, TC, Touchscreens, Xbox One | No Comments

Apple’s iOS 13 update (and the newly renamed iPadOS for iPad hardware) both support multiple simultaneous Bluetooth game controller connections. Apple added Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controller support in the updates, and after doing some digging, I can confirm that you can use multiple of either type of controller on one iOS device running the update, with each controlling a different player character.

That’s the good news: The bad news is that not many games take advantage of this right now. I wasn’t able to find a game in Apple’s new Arcade subscription service to try this out, for instance — and even finding a non-Arcade iOS game took a bit of digging. I finally was able to try local multi-controller multiplayer with “Horde,” a free-to-play two-player co-op brawler, and found that it worked exactly as you’d expect.

With Arcade, Apple has done more to re-invigorate the App Store, and gaming on iOS in particular, than it has since the original launch of the iPhone. The all-you-can-game subscription offering, which delivers extremely high-quality gaming experiences without ads or in-app purchases, has already impressed me immensely with the breadth and depth of its launch slate, which includes fantastic titles like “Where Cards Fall,” “Skate,” “Sayonara: Wild Hearts” and “What the Golf,” to name just a few.

Combine the quality and value of the library with cross-play on iOS, iPadOS, Apple TV and eventually Mac devices, and you have a killer combo that’s well-positioned to eat up a lot of the gaming market currently owned by Nintendo’s Switch and other home consoles.

Local multiplayer, especially on iPads, is another potential killer feature here. Already, iPad owners are likely to be using their tablets both at home and on the road, and providing quality local gaming experiences on that big display, with just the added requirement that you pack a couple of PS4 or Xbox controllers in your suitcase or carry-on, opens up a lot of potential value for device owners.

As I said above, there’s not much in the way of games that support this right now, but it’s refreshing to know that the features are there for when game developers want to take advantage.

Powered by WPeMatico

Google Play Pass launches with 350+ premium apps and games, initially for $1.99 per month

Posted by | Android, android apps, Android games, app stores, Apple Arcade, Apps, games, Gaming, Google, Google Play, Mobile, mobile game, play store, subscription service | No Comments

Following the well-received launch of Apple Arcade, Google today is officially introducing its own take on subscription-based access to premium mobile games — or, in Google’s case, premium mobile apps, too. The new Google Play Pass subscription, arriving this week, will offer more than 350 apps and games that are completely unlocked, with no upfront fees, in-app purchases or advertisements. And the initial price point is something of a no-brainer — it’s just $1.99 per month for the first year, Google says.

That price will increase to $4.99 per month after the first 12 months have passed, which is the same price as Apple Arcade at launch. This launch promotion is only available until October 10, 2019, however.

The two services are similar in concept, as both are providing a large library of premium content for a monthly subscription. But there are some differences between the two.

For starters, Apple Arcade is filled with exclusives — meaning its games will not be found on Andriod. The reverse is not true for Google Play Pass. Instead, the Play Pass catalog includes many cross-platform titles, including some that even found their fame first on iOS, like ustwo’s Monument Valley.

In addition, Play Pass’s launch titles aren’t all games. There are also ad-free versions of popular mobile apps, like AccuWeather, Facetune and Pic Stitch, for example.

Notable launch titles include Stardew Valley, Risk, Terraria, Monument Valley, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Reigns: Game of Thrones, Titan Quest and Wayward Souls. Some lesser-known additions include LIMBO, Lichtspeer, Mini Metro and Old Man’s Journey. Others, like This War of Mine and Cytus, are coming soon. And for little kids, there are some preschooler-friendly titles like Toca Boca classics and the My Town series.

More titles are added on a monthly basis, Google says.

pph realistic

Because it’s not relying on exclusives; Google’s catalog is more than triple the size of Apple’s at launch. That being said, Apple’s Arcade library is filled with gorgeous, high-quality games while Play Pass is rounded out with a lot more utilities, like weather apps and photo editors.

Play Pass ticket logoLike Apple Arcade, the new subscription gets its own tab in the Google Play app, where the games are organized by genre, popularity and other factors — just like a mini app store. However, unlike Apple Arcade, where games are only found in the Arcade tab or through search, Google Play Pass titles will appear directly in the Play Store. They’ll be designated with a Play Pass ticket badge, so you can easily identify them.

The Play Pass subscription also allows the games to be shared with the whole family. The family manager can share their Play Pass subscription with up to five other family members, who can each access the titles independently. This is comparable to Apple Arcade.

We already knew Google was working on an Apple Arcade competitor before today. The Play Pass subscription’s existence had been leaked, and Google later confirmed the service with a tweet. What we didn’t yet know was the launch date, lineup or the official pricing.

Google Play Pass service is rolling out this week to Android devices in the U.S., with more countries coming soon. A 10-day subscription is available, before it converts to the $1.99 per month limited promotion, followed by the $4.99 per month price point when the promotion ends.

While neither Apple nor Google is discussing the terms of their deals with developers, Google says the more people download a Play Pass title, the more the revenue developers receive on a recurring basis. It also explained that Google itself is funding the initial launch offer, so developers can gain more subscriber interest without impacting their revenue.

 

 

Powered by WPeMatico

I hope Apple Arcade makes room for weird, cool shit

Posted by | app-store, Apple, Apple Arcade, apple inc, apple tv, computing, controller, Forward, Gaming, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, loot box, monument valley, TC, technology | No Comments

Apple Arcade seems purpose-built to make room in the market for beautiful, sad, weird, moving, slow, clever and heartfelt. All things that the action, shooter and MOBA-driven major market of games has done nothing to foster over the last decade.

I had a chance to play a bunch of the titles coming to Apple Arcade, which launched today in a surprise move for some early testers of iOS 13. Nearly every game I played was fun, all were gorgeous and some were really, really great.

A few I really enjoyed, in no particular order:

20190524 WCF GameplayScreenshot wcf screenShot mcFishShakeJump 1080

Where Cards Fall — A Snowman game from Sam Rosenthal. A beautiful game with a clever card-based mechanic that allows room for story moments and a ramping difficulty level that should be fantastic for short play sessions. Shades of Monument Valley, of course, in its puzzle + story interleave and in its willingness to get super emotional about things right away. More of this in gaming! Super satisfying gameplay and crisp animations abound.

20190729 Overland GameplayScreenshot 09 Basin

Overland — Finji — Overland is one of my most anticipated games from the bunch, I’ve been following the development of this game from the Night in the Woods and Canabalt creators for a long time. It does not disappoint, with a stylized but somehow hyper-realized post apocalyptic turn-based system that transmits urgency through economy of movement. Every act you take counts. Given that it’s a roguelike, the story is told through the world rather than through an individual character’s narrative and the world does a great job of it.

20190517 Oceanhorn2 Oceanhorn2 Screenshot 7

Oceanhorn 2 — Cornfox & Brothers — The closest to a native Zelda you’ll get on iOS — this plays great on a controller. Do yourself a favor and try it that way.

20190712 Spek GameplayScreenshot Spek Screen C 3

Spek — RAC7 — One of those puzzle games people will plow through, it makes the mechanics simple to understand, then begins to really push and prod at your mastery of them over time. The AR component of the app seems like it will be a better party game than solo experience, but the effects used here are great and it really plays with distance and perspective in a way that an AR game should. A good totem for the genre going forward.

I was able to play several of the games across all three platforms, including Apple TV with an Xbox controller, iPhone and iPad. While some favored controller (Skate City) and others touch controls (Super Impossible Road), all felt like I could play them either way without much difficulty.

There are also some surprises in the initial batch of games, like Lego Brawls — a Smash Brothers clone that will be a big hit for car rides and get-togethers, I think.

My hope is that the Apple Arcade advantage, an aggressive $4.99 price and prime placement in the App Store, may help create an umbrella of sorts for games that don’t fit the “big opening weekend” revenue mold, and I hope Apple leans into that. I know that there may be action-oriented and big-name titles in the package now and in the future, and that’s fine. But there are many kinds of games out there that are fantastic, but “minor” in the grand scheme of things, and having a place that could create sustainability in the market for these gems is a great thing.

The financial terms were not disclosed by Apple, but many of the developers appear to have gotten upfront money to make games for the platform and, doubtless, there is a rev share on some sort of basis, probably usage or installs. Whatever it is, I hope the focus is on sustainability, but the people responsible for Arcade inside Apple are making all the right noises about that, so I have hope.

I am especially glad that Apple is being aggressive with the pricing and with the restrictions it has set for the store, including no in-app purchases or ads. This creates an environment where a parent (ratings permitting) can be confident that a kid playing games from the Arcade tab will not be besieged with casino ads in the middle of their puzzle game.

There is, however, a general irony in the fact that Apple had to create Apple Arcade because of the proliferation of loot box/currency/in-app purchase revenue models. An economy driven by the App Store’s overall depressive effect on the price of games and the decade long acclimation people have had to spending less and less, down to free, for games and apps on the store.

By bundling them into a subscription, Apple sidesteps the individual purchase barrier that it has had a big hand in creating in the first place. While I don’t think it is fully to blame — plenty of other platforms aggressively promote loot box mechanics — a big chunk of the responsibility to fix this distortion does rest on Apple. Apple Arcade is a great stab at that and I hope that the early titles are an indicator of the overall variety and quality that we can expect.

Powered by WPeMatico

Apple Arcade is now available for some iOS 13 beta users

Posted by | Apple, Apple Arcade, Gaming, TC | No Comments

If you’re running a beta version of iOS 13 or 13.1, chances are you can now open the App Store and subscribe to Apple Arcade. The company has been rolling out its new subscription service, as MacRumors spotted. It works on my iPhone running a public beta version of iOS 13.1.

Apple Arcade requires iOS 13, tvOS 13 or macOS Catalina, which means that you won’t be able to access the service before updating to the new major versions of the operating systems. The final version of iOS 13 is set to launch on Thursday on the iPhone.

Originally announced earlier this year, Apple has been working on an ad-free gaming service that lets you download and play games for a monthly subscription fee. These games have no ads or in-app purchases.

Essentially, you pay $4.99 per month to access a library with dozens of games. Subscriptions include a one-month free trial and work with family sharing.

You can browse the selection of games without subscribing. There are currently 53 games available, but Apple said that it plans to launch more than 100 games this fall.

Apple Arcade 1

Each game has its own App Store page with a trailer, screenshots and some new icons indicating the age rating, category, number of players and more.

If you search for a game on the App Store and you’re not an Apple Arcade subscriber, you get a new button that tells you that you can try it free by subscribing to Apple Arcade. It also says “Apple Arcade” above the app name.

Apple Arcade 2

Powered by WPeMatico

Apple Arcade launches later this month for $4.99/mo

Posted by | Apple Arcade, Apple Hardware Event 2019, Gaming, TC | No Comments

Apple finally delivered more details on its gaming subscription program, Apple Arcade.

The ad-free gaming service will launch September 19 for $4.99 per month with a one-month free trial.

Users will access the service via a dedicated Arcade tab in the App Store. The company reiterated that the service will boast “more than 100 ground-breaking exclusive games,” also noting that new titles will be added every month.

Arcade titles are playable on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. Though Apple maintained that the additions will be cross-genre, it’s apparent that the emphasis is on more snack-able titles rather than desktop class epics.

Apple has partnered with some high-profile studios like Konami, Square Enix and Capcom. We saw a few demos, which all seemed very mobile-friendly.

Powered by WPeMatico

Watch Apple unveil the new iPhone live right here

Posted by | Apple, Apple Arcade, Apple Hardware Event, Apple Hardware Event 2019, apple tv, Apple Watch, Apps, Gadgets, iOS, iOS 13, iPad, iPad Pro, iPados, iPadOS 13, iPhone, iphone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, macos, macOS Catalina, Mobile, watchOS, watchOS 6 | No Comments

Apple is set to announce new iPhone models today. The company is holding a keynote on its campus at 10 AM PT (1 PM in New York, 6 PM in London, 7 PM in Paris). And you’ll be able to watch the event right here as the company is streaming it live.

Update: And it’s over. The video of the event isn’t up just yet (Update 2: the video is up), but head over to our coverage of the event:


Rumor has it that the company plans to unveil three new smartphones. The iPhone 11 should replace the iPhone XR in the lineup, while the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max should replace the iPhone XS and XS Max respectively.

Apple could also update the Apple Watch with a new titanium version. You can also expect to get the release date of iOS 13, iPadOS 13, tvOS 13, macOS Catalina and watchOS 6. Let’s see if Apple announces the launch dates of Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade as well.

When it comes to less likely announcements that could still happen, Apple has been working on new MacBooks, a new Apple TV with a more powerful system-on-a-chip and new iPads. All eyes are on the new iPhone, but Apple could use today’s conference to announce those other products.

You can watch the live stream directly on this page. For the first time, Apple is streaming its conference on YouTube.

If you have an Apple TV, you can download the Apple Events app in the App Store. It lets you stream today’s event and rewatch old ones. The app icon was updated a few days ago for the event.

And if you don’t have an Apple TV and don’t want to use YouTube, the company also lets you live-stream the event from the Apple Events section on its website. This video feed now works in all major browsers — Safari, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Of course, you also can read TechCrunch’s live blog if you’re stuck at work and really need our entertaining commentary track to help you get through your day. We have a team in the room.

Powered by WPeMatico

Apple said to be spending more than $500M on Arcade gaming subscription effort

Posted by | Apple, Apple Arcade, Gaming, TC | No Comments

Apple’s new gaming subscription service Apple Arcade may have been a bit of a footnote at its Services event earlier this month compared to the stage time given to more prime time-ready efforts like Apple TV+ and Apple News+, but the company is throwing some major funding behind its effort to get people paying a monthly fee for exclusive titles.

The company has already set aside a budget of more than $500 million for its Arcade service, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The service, arriving in the fall, will let users play exclusive gaming titles across their Apple devices ad-free and offline. The titles will be free of micro-transactions, unlike many of the popular gaming titles on the App Store.

While the company has already reportedly spent more than $1 billion on its TV+ content service, the gaming subscription world marks another uncharted territory for Apple as it will put the tech giant in the position of curating with its cash by directly funding titles for exclusive launches on Apple Arcade. At its event, the company detailed that it will have more than 100 new and exclusive gaming titles launching as part of its service.

The report states that in order to receive funding from Apple, developers will have to eschew releases on the Google Play Store and refrain from taking part in other gaming subscription services. After a “few months” of exclusivity, developers will be able to release their games on non-mobile platforms such as PCs and gaming consoles. The company is focusing its efforts on funding indie titles as opposed to bankrolling AAA studios to create an exclusive epic.

As with Apple TV+, we’re still waiting on exact details regarding price and availability.

Powered by WPeMatico

Apple Arcade is Apple’s new cross-platform gaming subscription

Posted by | Apple, Apple Arcade, Apple Hardware Event 2018, Gaming, TC | No Comments

Apple wants to tilt the balance from ad-laden freemium gaming titles toward all-access ad-free gaming experiences that can be downloaded across platforms on iOS, macOS and tvOS.

At the company’s services event this morning, they announced Apple Arcade, their new premium subscription service for gaming across their hardware products. “We want to make gaming even better,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said onstage.

The subscription will boast 100+ new and exclusive games while Apple will be adding new content “all the time.” It looks like the company will have a hand in building out the titles by working directly with developer partners to produce titles. Early partners include names like Disney, Konami and Lego.

Another important note: All games will be playable offline. This is a content play rather than a tech product like Google’s recently announced Stadia game-streaming platform. The subscription will provide access to all of the content in the games without ads.

Apple has the benefit of building this directly into the App Store; you’ll be able to access Apple Arcade from a new bottom tab in the App Store app. This may be the company’s best chance at leveraging its strength on iOS to finally build a better home for games on Mac.

The service is coming this fall. Apple oddly didn’t detail pricing, though they did share it would be launching in 150 regions.

Powered by WPeMatico