Apple Arcade has just been released a couple of days ago to quite a lot of fanfare in the mobile gaming industry. The service launched side by side with iOS 13 is extended to all devices in the Apple ecosystem: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac. It symbolizes a much-needed change from the atypical money-centric design perspective to a truer gaming experience. But just in case you’re still hesitant about whether the $4.99 monthly fee is worth it or not, from my personal experience, you definitely should try it out.

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Apple's exec introduced the idea of Apple Arcade all the way back to the service-focused event in March

I got early access to the Arcade thanks to its sooner availability in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 Beta. Out of the 53 games currently available for play in the Arcade, I played through quite a lot of highlights including Hot Lava, Oceanhorn 2, Speed Demons, and Spaceland.

The first impact the service had on me is how high quality and polished each game are. I didn’t truly appreciate Apple’s promise of an ad and micro-transaction free gameplay up until I experience it for myself. There are none of the annoying and downright frustrating elements of mobile games like timers, ads, micro-transactions, and in-game currencies. Instead, it is the purest breed of gaming where the gameplay, the plot, and the atmosphere are everything of a video game, and there’s no addition of a convoluted business scheme. 

All of the games in the Arcade feels like a PC or console game, and I love the change.

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All of the games are PC and console-grade. That's such a welcomed change in an age where most mobile games are quite bad in term of quality

A Very Polished Library

Oceanhorn 2

It helps immensely that the first-day game selection is quite expansive with a lot of genres, art style, and gameplay mechanics. Let’s take an example and say Oceanhorn 2. Quite possibly, it is one of the biggest 3D RPG game that I have ever had the honor of playing, rivaling the size of the infamous Legend of Zelda franchise. Though the start of the game can be a little bit underwhelming as you lug around a rudimentary sword and shield combo, running around the island beating up giant crabs. By the end of the game (Hopefully), if the trailer is correct, then you would be able to take on heavily-armed mechs while riding, get this, a motorcycle.

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Oceanhorn 2 is a big reason for you to subscribe to Apple Arcade

If that’s not enough incentive, I don’t know what else will.


For those who like the turn-based strategy genre similar to XCOM series, you have Spaceland. In comparison to XCOM, the art style is considerably cleaner and more kid-friendly, though you seriously cannot fault the AI or the strategic aspect of the game. It is because of the art style that I mistakenly thought it would be a light-hearted game, but it proved me wrong completely. Spaceland is a full-breed tactical game. 

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Spaceland is as tactical as a game could possibly be

By the second level, I already found myself with one dead soldier while being surrounded on all sides by extremely basic aliens. It was a situation of pretty high pucker factor, but if you react well enough to the dangers by setting up directional overwatch or standing by over spawn points, you might get out alive to fight for another day.

Speed Demons

For those who enjoy the rapid tempo of a racing game, take up Speed Demons. This overhead racing game is very addictive, and all of the game modes force your hands at navigating through crowded traffics with extremely basic left-right control. This is just the thing that you might be looking for if you’re a fan of games like Burnout Paradise and Dangerous Driving.

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Speed Demons will test your reflex and driving skill by kicking you into busied traffics

Some Other Games You Definitely Should Check Out

There have some been some very noticeable games in my playthrough that if you have already signed up for the trial period for Arcade you definitely must see through.

Jenny LeClue

A return to the classic point-n-click adventure and mystery mixed genre, the storyline is compelling and will get you invested in no time.

Jenny LeClue is a return to the classic point-n-click genre

Agent Intercept

Spy Hunter minimized and colourized, this game is all about gathering all of the nitrous boosts available, taking up all of the items you possibly can, and use said items to annihilate anything that stands in your way.

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Apple Arcade does offer a lot of good racing games too

Sayonara Wild Hearts

This game has a particularly special place in the Arcade. It was one of the games that were demonstrated to the audience during the recent Apple Special Event on September 10th. It’s essentially a rhythm-based game that gets you to witness our main heroine doing all sorts of insane stunts from riding a flying skateboard, to commandeering a muscle car, and just about anything between and beyond that, you must play to see. Everything was based on the beat of the beautiful soundtrack in the background.

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The art style of Sayonara Wild Hearts is simply mesmerising

The neon-lit aesthetic of the game was simply dazzling to see while everything was happening in fast motion.


Similar to SpacelandOutlanders is essentially a strategy game that’s focused on the missions. The game doesn’t get too deep from the very start, but if you love games like Northgard, the atmosphere is similarly entrancing. There’s no combat, however, but I assure you that you’ll love it from the get-go whether you play it on your phone or your tablet.

Deep Integration

The one thing that I love most outside of the expansive game library is the level of integration between Apple devices. I played all of the aforementioned games between my iPhone XR and my iPad Pro 9.7-inch (It’s an old beast, but it still works very well). Since all of the save files are stored on the cloud, switching back and forth is a breeze more or less. There was one instance when I got trouble syncing my devices when I switch from my iPhone to my tablet only to see some of my progress lost, but I think it’s more of a networking issue rather than the devices themselves.

Still, not a lot of harms were done, and I picked up the pace pretty quickly. Other than that one time, though, Apple Arcade worked just as expected of it, and I’m a happy customer seeing all of my progress saved, every items and level unlocked being right there no matter what device I chose to continue my adventure on.

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Apple Arcade's deep integration is also a huge advantage too

Apple Arcade has yet to be officially released to the iPad and Macs just yet and is set for a September 30th release. Apple TV got the shortest straw with a release date all the way to October. I’m quite pumped up for this one since there’s never been a real opportunity to play mobile games on the big screen before. But for now, I’m contented with connecting my controller to my phone and tablet for the experience.

Is Controller An Essential?

The one thing that makes Arcade particularly accessible for gamers is that it makes it possible for people to plug in via Bluetooth wireless controllers like Sony’s PS4 DualShock 4 and Xbox One’s controller. Note here before you go ahead and buy an Xbox One controller: Only the most recent models that launched with the Xbox One S have Bluetooth added in, earlier ones do not.

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Apple Arcade does have a lot of supports for controllers

With controller support, Arcade can become more or less a console experience, giving you extended flexibility and actual buttons to control your characters and fire the weapons. The controller also removes the slow-motion mechanics that’s both annoying but necessary for people who use touch controls to improve precision.

There’s nowhere else for Apple Arcade to go but up as it was promised that the platform will be improved with each new game added and will see new functionalities over time. Furthermore, the current 53 games that’s available at launch will increase to about 100 games by the end of the year. From here on out, excluding the one-month free trial period, you will have spent in total about $10 to play all of them.

One Flaw, But Not Really That Significant

If there’s one flaw in Arcade is that you really can’t buy any of the games outright. If you want to play Hot Lava, for example, you will have to pay $4.99 forever for access. You can’t just buy the game and cancel the service. As a result, Apple Arcade is just an extremely ingenious way of marketing for a game rental service. The moment you cancel the subscription, you will have nothing left to play. There’s too much gatekeeping in the service for my liking, but considering the dirt-cheap cost, all of the benefits, and the fact that there might be changes in the future… it’s not that significant of a flaw.

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Apple Arcade still has flaws, though it's too inconsequential for me to consider it a no-no

Although I do plan on keeping my subscription to Arcade for a very long time, there definitely are people out there who just want to take a quick look during the one-month free trial. You can just sign-up for the free trial and set a reminder to cancel it before the trial ends if that’s how you want to do it. It’s considerably easier for me to hold onto the service since I already many compatible devices and is a voracious gamer. But even for the normal person with one or two Apple devices, Arcade subscription might be an essential monthly buy.

Whatever the case, this is probably one of the greatest service ideas Apple had ever put into motion and I’m very interested in seeing how it would play out for them and the service in the future.