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Apple Arcade developers aren’t confident about the service’s future

Published Feb 26th, 2024 5:04PM EST
New games coming to Apple Arcade for holiday 2023.
Image: Apple

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Apple has invested heavily in a wide range of subscription services in recent years, from music, movies, and shows to news and fitness. Many of those services have found success, but a new report from suggests that Apple Arcade isn’t one of them.

Speaking with multiple sources — including a number of developers who have released games on Apple Arcade — found that there is growing concern about the future of the platform. At first, Apple was offering generous payouts for developers to launch their games on Arcade along with monthly payouts as part of the “per-play bonus pool.” Over the years, those payments have declined, making profitability a more difficult prospect.

But lower payouts are just part of the problem. Some sources say that Apple is far less likely to greenlight any projects that aren’t attached to major intellectual properties, which explains why games like Sonic Dream Team and Tamagotchi Adventure Kingdom have highlighted recent library additions. Meanwhile, original games are being turned down.

For example, one source said that Apple “cancelled a shitload of projects and pissed off a lot of people” when Apple Arcade was effectively rebooted in the spring of 2021. Now, Apple focuses almost exclusively on brand-name titles while tossing in a few “App Store Greats” each month, which are reworked free-to-play games with the microtransactions and ads removed.

Several developers have also found Apple to be less responsive and more challenging to work with as time goes on. One studio head claimed that after receiving “months of glowing feedback” from Apple on one title, Apple suddenly told the team that it was no longer interested. The studio was willing to reduce the budget and even retool the game to better suit the platform, but Apple allegedly stopped responding to their emails altogether.

One studio head who met with Apple to discuss bringing their games to the service walked away with a fairly dire read: “I got the sense they didn’t really know where they were going with it all – almost like they weren’t sure if they’d have jobs at the end of it.”

Other problems developers discussed include confusion surrounding the metrics that determine bonus pool payments, struggles getting Apple to market specific games, and the general lack of clarity regarding the company’s overall strategy for the service.

In the meantime, Netflix has seemingly become a more attractive option for many game studios working on mobile games. The article notes that Netflix pays developers more upfront but doesn’t have a similar bonus pool system in place. One source even noted that Google Play Pass is better for developers than Apple Arcade, even though Google isn’t doing a very good job marketing it. Hopefully a report like this pushes Apple to improve.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.