Apple Arcade cancels some developer contracts in bid for more engaging games

Apple has shifted the strategy of its Apple Arcade gaming service, canceling contracts for some games in development while seeking other titles that it believes will better retain subscribers, Bloomberg News reports under the headline “Apple Cancels Some Arcade Games in Strategy Shift To Keep Subscribers.”

Apple’s new service, Apple Arcade, costs just $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year for access to over 120 exclusive games without ads or in-app purchases.
Apple’s new service, Apple Arcade, costs just $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year for access to over 120 exclusive games without ads or in-app purchases.

Mark Gurman and Jason Schreier for Bloomberg News:

On calls in mid-April, an Apple Arcade creative producer told some developers that their upcoming games didn’t have the level of “engagement” Apple is seeking, the people said. Apple is increasingly interested in titles that will keep users hooked, so subscribers stay beyond the free trial of the service, according to the people.

Apple Arcade, which launched in September with a one-month free trial, charges $4.99 a month for unlimited access to a wide variety of games, including with some that support hardware controllers. Unlike many mobile games, Arcade titles eschew intrusive ads and don’t push players to pay extra to win or make progress. The approach won praise from video game critics.

“Apple Arcade has redefined what a gaming service can be, putting unlimited play at the fingertips of subscribers and their families across all their Apple devices,” Apple said in a statement. “We are proud to have launched the first-ever mobile game subscription service that now features more than 120 games, many of which are award-winning and widely celebrated for their artistry and gameplay. The vision has always been to grow and evolve the Apple Arcade catalog, and we can’t wait for our users to try the games developers are working on now.”

Apple added that it has always planned to make changes to its Arcade games lineup based on subscriber feedback.

MacDailyNews Take: Is this really a “strategy shift?” It sounds like basic business to us.

Obviously, the contracts were written with the clause that Apple could cease funding development if they didn’t like the direction of the projects. Of course, Apple wants engagement for a subscription service; they want people to sign up after the free trial period. That’s how it’s supposed to work; always was.

Why would Apple or anyone else continue to put money into productions in which they lack confidence when they could smartly redeploy that capital to the most-promising projects? Duh.

This comes across yet another Gurmanesque non-story with a drummed up angle (“strategy shift”) to make it seem like news, when it’s really just the execution of the existing contract clauses and the type of moves that sound businesses make routinely.


  1. The games are pitiful, just like the App Store. I love Apple, but it’s never has been a gaming company and does not understand it. They should just buy Steam and get more games on a Mac. The fact that I had to go buy a crappy Windows computer during Covid to play more games says it all. BTW Windows 10 it is the same basic operating system back to Windows 3.1. Honestly the same dialog boxes when you go underneath the GUI. That said, Apple should get its game act together and the Arcade is a very poor representation for a great product and services company.

  2. Game playing is not my MO; I do not understand the attraction to electronic game; It does not entertain me at all. It’s so non-productive. History, politics, tech news especially about Apple, and, of course, art making entertain me and engage my mind.
    The proliferation of electronic games and sports games seems to be an echo of the classical Roman gladiatorial games in colosseums intended to keep restless Imperial Roman citizens engaged away from the tribulations of cheap Roman lives.

    1. You are right, add to that the “gameification” of computing in general, social media, smartphones, etc. Engaged minds tend to have a harder grip on their wallets.

    2. I don’t disagree… but politics… also mostly a waste of time.
      News… has turned more into voyeuristic entertainment or just political drivel.

      The word entertainment comes from a French word which means: “to divert the attention, beguile, delude… fool, tease, hoax, entrap; make fun of…”

      The original Greek word essentially meaning “without muses” or “uneducated”

      Much of what we take in these days is amusement, entertainment… we THINK we’re becoming more informed… but many times we have to question ourselves… am I just “entertaining” myself.

      Although I’m the first to admit that game-playing can indeed be a waste of time… one who spends their time in other forms of entertainment isn’t much more productive. Particularly if one is choosing to be entertained by something as divisive as politics.

      The key is balance. Whether we’re entertained/engaged/stimulated by politics/games/sports/news/history/reading we need to 1) be careful of the content we’re consuming. We are what we eat when it comes to what we choose to be entertained by and 2) How much we’re consuming… we can become mentally obese if all we do is absorb and take in, rather than be productive.

  3. I would love if Apple was able to bring all the old school games to the arcade app. I am talking games from Atari, Texas Instrument, ColecoVision, Sega, Nintendo. That would be an absolute blast… to house all those games under 1 roof would be fantastic. When I look at the arcade now it does not feel like an Arcade… there is no essence of that feel right now. If you went old school and brought back the 8 bit versions… WOW!!!!! Now that would be a fantastic subscription.

    1. Yes, compiling old school games and bringing them under the Apple Arcade moniker would provide a sense of history, of continuity, and a new validation to modern games. People would enjoy seeing influential predecessors who blazed the early trails.

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