Apple’s Gaming Subscription May Cost a Lot Less Than You’d Expect Staff Staff

For the price of a Starbucks latte a month, you can play over 100 premium games across your Apple devices as much as you want.

That promise, or something like it, will probably be the pitch for Apple Arcade, Apple’s game subscription service that the company revealed at its “services” event back in March. At the time, Apple just outlined the basics of the service — that it would allow access to certain premium titles on iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple TVs; that privacy was built into the system; and that it would be a monthly subscription.

Now we have a good read on the price. According Guilherme Rambo at 9to5Mac, who discovered some promotional text in an API, Apple Arcade will cost subscribers $4.99 a month, with a one-month free trial. Apple Arcade will also work with Family Sharing — Apple’s service that allows family members to share content and apps — meaning up to 6 people can share an account.

In-app gaming subscriptions have existed for a while, and sometimes those individual subscriptions can run higher than $5 a month for a single game (“Jurassic World: The Game,” for instance, costs $9.99 a month to subscribe), so Apple Arcade’s price seems reasonable. Google Stadia, which similarly works across platforms but puts a greater emphasis on game quality and a cloud platform that can support it, will cost $9.99 a month when it launches in November.

Of course, it’s important to note the $4.99 monthly price was just in a line of code, and Apple may change things up before it formally launches the service, which will likely happen in September during its annual iPhone event (nothing official there either, but Apple has consistently announced new iPhones every fall since 2011). There’s been no formal roster of games, but at the March event, developers showed off titles like “Lego Arthouse,” “Doomsday Vault,” and “Sonic Racing.”

Apple didn’t invent casual gaming, but the success of the iPhone certainly took it to another level. Cheap, easy-to-play games like “Bejeweled,” “Dots,” and “Candy Crush” became hits, both financial and culturally, thanks to the platform. Although Apple shared in that success, iPhone sales have flattened over the past year, and the company has turned its eyes to services as a way to secure its future. Getting customer lock-in via a monthly subscription would help ensure financial success isn’t feast or famine as gaming fads like “Angry Birds” come and go.

However, for that to work, it would mean the overall quality of the package needs to be worthwhile for subscribers, and preferably get better over time. And we won’t know that until September.

Image: Apple Arcade could launch in September in more than 150 countries from a new tab on the App Store across iOS, macOS and tvOS. A recent report suggests the service could debut at $4.99 per month. (Provided photo / Apple)