Tag Archives: subscription

I Wish I Could Just Buy My Favorite Apple Arcade Game

Grindstone is probably the best mobile game I’ve ever played. I’ve spent much of my downtime over the last few days fighting through its monster-slaying puzzles. There’s just one thing: I would prefer to simply buy it rather than playing it through my Apple Arcade subscription.

Apple Arcade is a fairly new subscription service that charges users $5 a month for access to an avalanche of excellent mobile games. I decided to dive into its offerings after a recent update made the service accessible on my iPhone. The first trial month is free, and during that time, I’ve been going down the list of Stephen and Mike’s favorite games to try and decide whether my subscription is worth keeping. Some of the games that others have loved, like Card of Darkness and Mini Motorways, were frustrating to me (maybe I’m just not very smart), but I immediately fell in love with Grindstone.

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Developed by Sword & Sworcery and Below creators Capy Games, Grindstone puts you in the shoes of a hulking barbarian who is tasked with traveling up a mountain and slaying hordes of cute but deadly monsters. You rack up combos by defeating as many of the color-coded enemies as possible with a single, unbroken line. Deducing clever ways to string together hits and gathering resources has proven to be mighty compelling to my lizard brain. The only problem is that the end of my free month of Apple Arcade is still looming overhead, and this is the only game I want to keep playing. It’s made me realize that I’d rather just purchase the game from the developers outright instead of chaining myself to a service that removes all sense of ownership from the equation.

Digital media is inherently tricky. While you technically own the movies, albums, and video games that you purchase, they’re still susceptible to the whims of copyright protection methods. Oftentimes, this means that the pieces of media you “own” are still intrinsically tied to whichever digital storefront or proprietary media player that you used to make your purchase. Subscription services like Apple Arcade only exacerbate this problem because they become the only place to watch, listen to, or play this digital media. My hard copy of the Kevin Smith movie Dogma, for instance, is precious to me because you can’t watch it online anywhere—at least, not legally. Lions Gate Films’ unfathomable decision to not make it available on streaming services doesn’t affect my VHS copy. It’s easy to understand why this might not sit well with the major corporations of the world: they’re no longer making any money from it while it’s sitting on my shelf.

There’s also the issue of devaluation, which was brought up by Maddy and Kirk on an episode of Kotaku Splitscreen last month. When hundreds of games are accessible for just $5 a month, why would anyone drop that much money on a single mobile game again? Hell, why pay $20? Or, god forbid, even $60? And unlike movies on Netflix or music on Spotify, there sometimes isn’t an option to purchase Apple Arcade games elsewhere. My worry is that this system won’t be sustainable for anyone but Apple, and developers will get fleeced by contracts and stipulations when they could have had an actual hit on their hands if they had decided to release their games traditionally and hadn’t tied it to a third-party subscription service. These are complicated, time- and labor-intensive projects, and the people who work on them deserve to be compensated fairly.

I want game developers to be fairly compensated, of course, but I admit, I don’t want to pay $5 a month for a ton of games that I’m not actually playing either. Grindstone is fantastic, so much so that it might even be worth renewing my Apple Arcade subscription for another month, but I don’t know where my $5 is going, exactly, and I’m not really interested in anything else the platform’s library has to offer. What I really want is to feel, no matter how fake the feeling might be in this new digital age, like I own the game on which I’m being asked to spend money, not to mention that the developers are getting their fair share for their labor. I’m willing to fork over at least $20 for this game, Capy. Just let me know where to send the check.

Source: Kotaku.com

One Month Later, Apple Arcade Is Worth My Five Bucks

It’s been nearly a month since the official September 19 launch of Apple Arcade. With my free 30-day trial of the subscription gaming service on the verge of expiring, I ask myself if I’m getting enough out of it to give Apple five of my hard-earned dollars to keep playing. Having barely made a dent in the 71 launch games, let alone the nine that have been added since, I’d say I still have plenty of playing to do.

Stephen Totilo and I called Apple Arcade “mobile gaming without all the bullshit” in our initial impressions of the service, and that assessment holds true. Having instant access to a massive, curated selection of quality games with no annoying microtransactions, energy meters, life timers, or other annoyances of free-to-play mobile gaming has changed how I play games on my iPhone and iPad. Instead of immediately heading to the iTunes app store’s game section to check out “New Games We Love,” I go straight to the Arcade page to see if anything new has popped up.

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The service has spoiled me for traditional free-to-play games, like the recently-released Mario Kart Tour. I don’t mind the microtransaction model as much as some, but I’ve started minding it more since Arcade went live. Why spend money on chances at winning random Mario karts and racers when there’s a full-featured Sonic Racing game with all the trimmings on Arcade?

Apple Arcade hasn’t reached the 100-game mark yet. Between the launch games and two subsequent mini-waves of releases (which included some surprises), the service has 80 titles to choose from. I’ve downloaded every single one to my iPad Pro. Now when I pick up my tablet, I spend a good minute perusing the menu, trying to figure out what sort of game I’m in the mood to play. The soothing picture puzzles of Patterns? The random multiplayer madness of Lego Brawls? The unique future racing of Super Impossible Road? The Zelda-riffic Oceanhorn 2? A “Play Random Apple Arcade Game” button would not be unwelcome at this point.

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Is Apple Arcade’s approach the future of gaming? I don’t know, but I do know it’s my next five dollars’ worth of gaming. We’ll see how I feel next month.

Source: Kotaku.com

Discord Nitro Games Are Going Away Next Month Because Most Users Weren’t Even Playing Them

Discord announced it will be removing all games from Nitro, almost one year after adding a collection of games to the paid subscription service. On October 15, 2019, users will no longer have access to 100+ games that were included with the service.

According to a post on the official Discord blog, the removal comes down to the simple fact that not many players actually played any of the games.

Last year, Discord began offering a library of games to any users who paid for the Nitro subscription. This is a premium tier of Discord that also offers users different bonuses including larger file upload limits, streaming video options and server boosts.

After a year of reviewing data and listening to users, Discord determined that most Nitro subscribers weren’t playing the free games. So instead of renewing various contracts for these free games for another year, Discord has decided to end the Nitro games program and remove all games from the service.

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Nitro and Nitro Classic, a cheaper plan with fewer options, will continue to be available and Discord is planning on adding more features to these services.

Discord also clarified that any games that users bought through Discord will still be available to play. The only games being removed are the games included with Nitro subscriptions.

Source: Kotaku.com

Google Play Pass or Apple Arcade: Which App Subscription Service Is Better?

Photo: David Murphy

Subscriptions are all the rage, and it’s easy to see why. Everyone loves a “buffet” model for content—see Netflix, et al—where you can just pay a single reasonable monthly fee for unlimited access to a body of stuff you’re interested in, be it documentaries, 90s-era TV shows, or (now) apps.

You’ll soon be able to subscribe to major services from Apple and Google, which will let you pay a single monthly fee to access lots of apps that would normally cost you money to buy or subscribe to individually. And these services—at least, Apple’s so far—will also let you play games that you won’t find on competing smartphone platforms.

Neither Apple nor Google have spilled the full details of their services yet. (Heck, Google is just starting to test its own offering, Google Play Pass.) With the smartphone wars getting ready to heat up again this fall, both offerings are incredibly compelling reasons to pick one platform over the other. But which do you go with? Let’s examine everything we know about these subscription services so far:

Apple Arcade

Screenshot: David Murphy (Apple)

When Apple Arcade debuts—possibly alongside the expected September release of iOS 13, but potentially as late as November—it’ll (obviously) be geared for games, not apps.

Apple hasn’t announced pricing for the service, but I’d expect eager gamers will have to cough up at least $10 monthly for the pass. That’s comparable to what Apple charges for Apple News+, and it would put the subscription service right in the middle of competing entertainment services like the slightly more expensive Netflix; Google’s Statia streaming service and Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service (just for consoles); or the slightly discounted Hulu, Disney+, or PlayStation Now services.

Since Apple is big on services nowadays, as they represent roughly twenty percent of the company’s revenue and offering some slight relief for slowing iPhone sales, a $10 monthly subscription fee feels right. Any higher, and I’m not sure an overwhelming number of gamers will be very inclined to pay $15 for smartphone games—no matter how interesting or exclusive they are—when they can have a more compelling subscription service in front of their TVs.

Similarly, I doubt you’ll see this service priced at $5; Apple wants more revenue than that, and it also wants to establish Apple Arcade as a premium product. From a marketing standpoint, a mere five bucks a month doesn’t make the service appear all that fancy, even if it would be a great deal for smartphone gamers.

Above all else, the most compelling reason to pick up Apple Arcade—beyond the list of games, which I’ll get to in a second—is that these titles will be free of bullshit mechanics like in-app purchases to bypass progress, annoying timers that gate your gameplay, or irritating video advertising. If you’re tired of seeing these in every title you play, maybe $10 a month (or whatever) doesn’t sound so bad after all, especially when game developers start designing exclusively for this kind of a setup instead of stripping free-to-play titles of annoyances and relanching them in Apple Arcade.

As for the games themselves, here’s the list of Apple Arcade titles the company has confirmed so far, courtesy of Macworld:

  • Atone: Heart of the Elder Tree
  • Beyond a Steel Sky
  • Box Project
  • Cardpocalypse
  • Doomsday Vault
  • Down in Bermuda
  • Enter The Construct
  • Fantasian
  • Frogger in Toy Town
  • Hitchhiker
  • Hot Lava
  • Kings of the Castle
  • Lego Arthouse
  • Lego Brawls
  • Lifelike
  • Little Orpheus
  • Mr Turtle
  • Monomals
  • No Way Home
  • Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
  • Overland
  • Projection: First Light
  • Repair
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts
  • Shantae 5
  • Sneaky Sasquatch
  • Sonic Racing
  • Spidersaurs
  • The Artful Escape
  • The Pathless
  • The Bradwell Conspiracy
  • UFO on Tape: First Contact
  • Where Cards Fall
  • Winding Worlds
  • Yaga

There’s no word yet on which ones are exclusive titles, if any. And this isn’t the final list, either; expect to see around 100 games or so arrive with Apple Arcade’s official launch.

Google Play Pass

We just heard that Google started testing its own app subscription service today, so we’re still ironing out all of the details. First, and most importantly, note the use of the word “app” instead of “game.” That’s intentional, as Google Play Pass will give you access to a lot more than just games on your device. According to Google’s description of the service, which a tester sent along to Android Police:

“Explore a curated catalog spanning puzzle games to premium music apps and everything in between. From action hits to puzzles and fitness trackers, with Google Play Pass you unlock access to hundreds of premium apps and games without ads, download fees or in-app purchases”

While we don’t have a full list of apps or games on the service, or even the ones Google is initially testing, a cursory look at some of the app icons in Android Police’s screenshots indicates that Google appears to be unlocking access to titles you can already find within Google Play: games like Stardew Valley, Terraria, and Monument Valley, for example.

These are also all titles that also exist on iOS, so it appears that Google is focusing a little less on the exclusivity of its subscription service. I would still expect Google to have some Android- or Play-Pass-only apps and games to entice people to sign up. At the very least, I’m sure there will be some exclusive deal or two that brings an incredibly popular app under Google Pass (crossing my fingers for Spotify, even though that’ll never happen).

As for the price, Google’s early test lists the Play Pass at a mere $5/month—an incredible value that basically means you’re paying the equivalent of one high-quality app or game a month for access to a lot, lot more. That feels like a reasonable purchase for most people. Heck, that’s one-and-a-half Stardew Valleys (a game you will already sink way too many hours into if you get hooked).

That’s not saying that Google (or Apple) charging $10/month for a subscription service would be out of the question. The actual difference between $5 and $10 a month is minimal—just another coffee—but the perception of that difference is huge. I know I’d be a lot more amenable to paying $5 for a subscription service that grants me full access to apps and games without any IAPs, advertising, or other annoyances.

Consider waiting on these services before you make that next big smartphone purchase

Were I on the fence about going Android or Apple for my next smartphone, Google’s cheaper subscription service could be a pretty compelling argument to hop over to a new Samsung or the upcoming Pixel 4. If you’re a big gamer, though, the exclusivity of Apple’s Arcade could be similarly enticing.

Can we make up your mind for you? Likely not. I’d definitely make it a point to check on the status of both services before I pick up a new smartphone this fall. And I would even recommend postponing that purchase to see if a competing platform’s subscription service offers a killer deal for your favorite apps or the games you’re most interested in playing.

The battle for your subscription dollars is just starting up. Unless you’re a loyalist to Android or iOS, you should wait until the dust clears a little bit before you pick a side—you might be able to save some serious cash for your apps and games, even with that monthly subscription fee.

Source: Kotaku.com

Apple Announces Apple Arcade, A Subscription Service For Premium Games

During a special event in Cupertino today, Apple announced Apple Arcade, a premium subscription game service for Apple devices, with a lineup including games from developers like Sega, Konami and Mistwalker, the studio founded by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi.

Coming this fall to iPhone, iPad, Apple computers and Apple TV, Apple Arcade is service that provides unlimited access to premium games for a monthly subscription. The service was introduced on stage with a video showcase of game creators, including Hironbu Sakaguchi, showing off the gorgeous Fantasian.

As well as handpicking games for the service, Apple is also contributing to the development of games for the platform. All games on Apple Arcade will be playable offline, and will feature no ads or in-app purchases.

No pricing was announced for the Apple Arcade subscription service, which launches across Apple devices this fall. The service will launch with more than 100 games, including Overland, Beyond A Steel Sky, Where Cards Fall, Sonic Racing and more.

A list of developers onboard with the service.

The official announcement, which calls Apple Arcade “the world’s first gaming subscription service for mobile, desktop and the living room.” also lists Ken Wong and Will Wright as creators contributing to the platform. It’s clear the service has piqued a lot of interest among developers. We’ll find out how it plays with gamers this fall. 

Source: Kotaku.com