You might have noticed that mobile games are having a kind of renaissance age. It’s long been in the making, and in the past few years mobile games like PUBG, League of Legends: Wild Rift, and Genshin Impact have come to legitimize mobile devices as a gaming platform. But mobile games have yet to break a certain barrier—their quality when compared to console and PC games.
Think about it: when you hear about a mobile version of Call of Duty or League of Legends, you imagine a game that’s been scaled down, optimized, and with a few corners cut so that it can be satisfactory for a mobile gaming experience. There’s a clear-cut distinction between mobile games and “real” games on console and PC, and I assume that it’s the perception of many that mobile games just aren’t on par with those “real” games yet.
It’s understandable when you consider the difference in user experiences for mobile and console/PC. When we sit down to play a game on a console or PC, it’s a commitment that can take anytime between an hour and a whole day. But mobile games capitalize on their platform being an on-the-go device, meaning the ideal mobile game is something you can play in transit, during a short break, or while you’re waiting in line at the bank. Mobile games were never meant to replicate the epic, engaging experience of console/PC games. Mobile games provide short bursts of fun and are easy to put down.
But what if mobile games weren’t restricted to just being short, low-commitment affairs? The massive success of last year’s Genshin Impact is proof enough that gamers are willing to invest time and money in their handheld games just as much as their big(ger) screen counterparts. You might even know someone who’s spent more money on their Genshin pulls than their console or PC games in the past year.
And yet, even the success of Genshin Impact isn’t strong enough to convince most people that mobile stands on par with console or PC. After all, you can play Genshin on those other platforms too, and it’ll be a preferable experience. What the mobile platform needs is an exclusive, flagship single-player title. The PlayStation 4 has games like Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War, the Switch has The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and the Xbox One has the Halo and Gears of War series. Nothing legitimizes a gaming platform quite like a groundbreaking single-player exclusive, and Apple Arcade understood this when they tasked Hironobu Sakaguchi and Mistwalker Corporation with creating Fantasian.
It’s an unexpected move from a tech company that’s never been known for their contributions to the video game industry. Apple is, however, known for being a leader in creating accessible and intuitive user experiences, which is why Apple Arcade could soon be a leading mobile gaming platform. With the release of Fantasian as their first big step, they’ve put a foot in the door and are now showing off their platform’s strengths.
So far, Apple Arcade has three major factors going for it, with the first being their big investment in exclusive projects like Fantasian and Platinum Games’ upcoming World of Demons, which looks like the closest thing we’ll ever get to an Ōkami sequel. These are high-profile games made by industry veterans, and you won’t find them on any other platform.
The second major factor that points to Apple Arcade’s success is its games-as-a-service model. In short, it’s a subscription service. This could be a pro or a con depending on who you ask, but right now, an Apple Arcade subscription only costs ₱249 a month, or ₱2,988 for a whole year. That’s the price of a single triple-A game on launch day (or a years-old Nintendo Switch game that never goes on sale). Even if you only subscribe to play Fantasian and World of Demons, you still won’t be spending more than you would to play something like Persona 5 Royal or Breath of the Wild. If Apple continues to fund quality exclusives like Fantasian, ₱249 a month seems almost like a steal.
Finally, Apple Arcade’s most important factor for success is the most obvious of the three. It’s the fact that so many people own Apple devices, and that Arcade is compatible with nearly all recent devices, going as far back as the iPhone 6S. Aside from the iPhone, Arcade can be accessed on the iPad, Apple TV, and Macbooks with macOS Catalina or later.
Having multiple devices compatible with Arcade is bound to give the platform an edge over others, because you don’t have to buy a specific device for the service, and it’s likely that you already have one of these devices for use in your daily life. When you consider the non-gamers who own Apple devices, the audience for Apple Arcade is even bigger, and through Arcade even non-gamers can get to experience “real” games at a fraction of the cost. Want to play a JRPG but don’t want to buy a PS4? Your iPhone’s got you covered.
Apple Arcade’s wide accessibility is a step up from the Nintendo dogma of catering to non-gamers and casual gamers. You can almost think of it as the equivalent of downloading a console onto your iPhone, iPad, or Macbook. It’s just that Arcade’s line-up of games can’t compete yet with the hundreds of games available on console and PC right now, but if Apple plays their cards right, they might just become a mobile gaming powerhouse.
What do you think about Apple Arcade? Share your thoughts with us in the comments! And for more news and updates on the latest console, PC, and mobile exclusives, be sure to stay tuned to our website and Facebook page.
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