Indie Devs: Apple Arcade is Healing a Wound in Mobile Gaming

Apple’s mobile gaming subscription service, the Apple Arcade, was a bit of a surprise when it first launched. In the days since, it’s gathered many high-profile games under its umbrella, from Sayonara Wild Hearts to smaller indie gems like Grindstone and the recently launched Guildlings.

This new service is, according to longtime mobile devs, fixing a long-standing problem in the mobile space. Asher Vollmer, the developer of breakout indie hit Threes who’s currently working on Guildlings, told USgamer in a recent interview that it’s “healing a wound that has shown up over the course of time” in mobile gaming.

“The mobile game space has been in a strange place for the past few years, because free-to-play games have sort of been turning off this core audience that would be more interested in traditional games,” Vollmer told USG over Discord. “And so it ended up in this feedback loop where developers would not create premium mobile games because the audience had left, and then if anyone showed up there, there would be no games for them.”

Vollmer credits Apple’s work towards making a library of premium games that are up-front, rather than a scattered collection of free-to-play games with “unclear motives.” Fellow Guildlings developer Jamie Antonisse echoed the sentiment.

“I think it allows for a more positive, honest relationship between the developers and the players,” Antonisse says.

Apple’s subscription service raised a lot of questions about the price of games and how those models might evolve in the future. With other options like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now also coming forward, it seems like subscription services are quickly becoming as popular in gaming as they are in other media.

But for mobile specifically, the model allows premium games to avoid microtransactions and models that can make the space look excessively greedy. The idea of longer, narrative experiences or even just a discrete, transaction-less game on your phone can become the norm when a subscription can bear the overhead costs.

We’ll have more about Guildlings’ Apple Arcade debut next week. In the meantime, check out our thoughts on another Arcade gem, Sayonara Wild Hearts.

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