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Apple has reportedly been evasive on the future of its mobile game storefront, and is keeping quiet on its overall strategy for the Arcade.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

February 26, 2024

2 Min Read
A selection of titles used to promote the Apple Arcade.
Image via Apple.

At a Glance

  • Developers just want answers on the Apple Arcade's next moves, but Apple may not even fully know what those plans are.

The Apple Arcade's future is in some kind of tumultuous flux. Developers speaking to MobileGamer claim several projects for the popular storefront have been cancelled in recent years, and that payouts are getting smaller and smaller.

Apple Arcade has grown into one of mobile games' biggest platforms. But Apple's lack of communication is making creators uncertain about its future and the tech company's next move.

Sources allege Apple's payouts have gradually declined since late 2020. Upfront payments used to be "very generous" when the Arcade launched in 2019, and the majority of titles would launch at a profit.

These days, Apple's upfront fees to buy a game for the Arcade have lessened, as have per-play bonus payments. Bonuses are based on "opaque" qualifying sessions, but no one's fully clear on what counts as such a session.

Likewise, no one can get a straight answer for the reduced payments. One source called the whole process "a black box," and Apple's largely been evasive when asked.

For example, a second source claimed Apple lost interest on their project after previously positive responses. Its reasoning back then was simply a "change in strategy."

What does Apple want from its Arcade?

When the Arcade rebooted in 2021, Apple decided to "cancel a shitload of projects and pissed off a lot of people," a third source told MobileGamer.

Nowadays, the Arcade is largely about IP games, like 2023's Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge. Others, labeled 'App Store Greats,' are just previously released games with removed in-app purchases and monetization mechanics.

An unnamed studio boss claimed the Arcade is surrounded by a "smell of death. I got the sense [management] didn’t really know where they were going with it all," they said.

Whatever plan Apple has for its Arcade, studios aren't looped in. But one developer claims it's considering a reboot of the platform now that Netflix has its own games service.

Per MobileGamer, Netflix may end up pushing Apple to improve its Arcade. The streamer is allegedly easier to work with than Apple, and is said to pay studios "generously" to put their games on its service.

"[Netflix] is requiring Apple to continue to try to be relevant and competitive," said one developer.

Conversely, a second studio boss suggested a lack of "passion and respect for games" is hurting the mobile game industry.

"It all depends on how much buy-in there is from those guys at the top," they said, "and I don’t think they really value Arcade or invest in it the same way you see them invest in music or TV."

MobileGamer's full report on the Apple Arcade, and developers concerns about Apple, can be read here.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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