With iOS 13, Apple launches a new video game subscription system “Apple Arcade games” for five euros per month, it can play dozens of games in unlimited on its iPhone. The Pixels editors have tested the service.

Since September 19th, owners of iPhone and mobile game enthusiasts can be tempted by the new Apple Arcade game offer. It is displayed, in fact, after updating its operating system on iOS 13, in a new tab of the AppStore, the application manager of the smartphone.

Listening only to his courage, the Pixels editors have installed the iOS 13 update on various iPhone models, then activated the first month of use offered Apple Arcade, in order to clear the operation. Here are our first impressions and explanations.

  • Does Apple Arcade work well?

Yes, because basically, it does not change much to the model of the AppStore (which already works quite a lot). By choosing to subscribe to Apple Arcade, you will not find yourself in a new specific portal dedicated to video games. You only need to be able to access a list of games to download: their access is made possible once you subscribe. They will then install like any other application on your iPhone, and will build on the already existing Apple mobile gaming ecosystem (including Game Center features).

The Apple Arcade Catalog AppStore page works as both a commercial showcase and a download manager. The curation portion is similar to that offered by Apple for other types of applications in the AppStore, with editorialized parts and game selections highlighted, such as news, or according to certain themes. Nothing new on this side for Apple brand users.

Regulars of OCS, Netflix, PlayStation Now or MyCanal will, on the other hand, be unaware of not finding an application, nor of a clear and exhaustive library of the offer. It exists, but in a sub-tab “See all games”, hidden at the bottom of the Apple Arcade home page. We almost did not find Mini Motorways, strangely hidden.

  • Should I buy a new iPhone?

Not necessarily. The most important is that it can run on iOS 13, the latest version of the operating system for iPhone, available since September 20. The Apple site (where you will find instructions for installing it) indicates that iOS 13 is intended for the devices listed below. Apple Arcade and its dozens of games are therefore planned to turn on the iPhone models released after the iPhone 6S, including the iPhone SE.

In general, if you want to make the most of Apple Arcade games, we recommend one thing: make them run on a model of iPhone widescreen (type “Plus” or “Max”), in order to have more maneuverability and better visibility. A tip that is true for the majority of mobile gaming experiences.

But according to our first tests, most Apple Arcade games run smoothly regardless of the iPhone model. Of course, the games are more beautiful and display better on the most recent models: but this is related to the best screen quality of the iPhone XS Max, compared to that of an iPhone 6S, and not to game display performance.
During our tests, the very rare occasional bugs do not seem related to the release date of the material. The game Skate City was thus blocked during the tutorial on iPhone XS Max (released in 2018). In parallel, we ran several Apple Arcade games on an iPhone 6S: everything went pretty well. Only Hot Lava did not work properly – but this was caused by a problem with the smartphone’s gyroscope, which prevented us from moving properly.

  • Can I download the entire catalog for access without a network?

In most cases, no, you will have to choose which games to download and then delete them. Some games are relatively large (up to 1.21 GB for Overland, 1.73 GB for Shinsekai, 2.93 GB for Hot Lava …), and you have to download them one by one before you can play – with or without a network afterwards. On a 64 GB iPhone, admittedly already cluttered with applications, photos of cats and late-night videos, it was only possible to download about twenty before saturation.

  • Are there services associated with Apple Arcade to enrich the gaming experience?

No, except that Apple Arcade takes over the already existing features of Apple’s Game Center. The cloud backup will also allow you to resume your game on any mobile device (Apple) connected to the same account.

By October, the service must be available on iPadOS, tvOS and macOS Catalina, according to Apple. This will be convenient, for example, to play the same game on multiple devices, and finish at home on your last iPad the level of Cat Quest II that you had started on iPhone in public transport.

  • Is Apple Arcade competitive?

For $ 4.99 a month (excluding first month, free – which will be close to 55 euros for the first year of use), Apple Arcade gives access to a catalog that must, according to Apple, have more than a hundred games accessible to the player. The day of the launch, it was rather 73, but it seems that this number will gradually increase. “In the coming weeks, the catalog will grow to more than 100 games, as new titles will be added each month,” promises the brand to the apple.

On paper, it is currently one of the cheapest subscription offers among those already in place at major manufacturers. At Nintendo, you have to pay four euros per month for the Nintendo Switch Online retro catalog. At Microsoft, it takes ten euros for the Xbox Game Pass, and on the side of Sony, fifteen euros for the PlayStation Now.

This in a context where five euros were until then the average price of a big game on mobile, without possibility of being reimbursed. For the same price, Apple Arcade can test, then play, dozens of games for a month. This subscription is without commitment: it will be possible to pay Apple Arcade during the summer holidays, to have dozens of games available on an iPad to entertain children. Then suspend the subscription at the beginning of the school year.

With all these possibilities, we can say that, yes, Apple Arcade is competitive. It must be borne in mind, however, that this is technically a rental system: the day the subscription ends, the games will no longer work. The kind of detail that we appreciate only ten years later, when we stumble upon his old iPhone with the edges sketched and on the screen half broken, and that we try, in vain, s to offer a quarter of an hour nostalgia.

  • What is the Apple Arcade Game Catalog worth?

Apple aims at the top of the mobile gaming basket, with original creations, licked, creative, aesthetic. The height of chic, these mobile games are ad-free and do not offer purchases during the game to increase its capabilities, or other paid refinements that have gradually invaded mobile games in recent years.

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