Why Apple Arcade is important to Apple’s AR plans

Apple isn't playing games, but you will be.

Apple, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Apple Glass, Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade seems set to become a luxury item for hardcore iOS gamers, offering up a curated collection of titles from some of the greatest and most innovative names in the games industry for a set monthly fee.

What would an Apple gaming platform do?

For a monthly fee, Apple Arcade subscribers will get unlimited access to a curated collection of titles at the App Store.

Developers include Lego, Sega, Konami, Disney, Sumo Digital, and Cartoon Network, with 100 exclusive games set to be made available on launch. Games will work on iPhones, iPads, Macs and on the Apple TV, the company said.

Apple says it is "Contributing to the development costs and working closely with creators to bring the games to life.”

That’s a much bigger commitment than simply opening an online shop, even an online Apple-related shop.

Apple now takes gaming seriously

Reading between the lines of Apple’s March 2019 ‘Showtime’ services launches, I was struck by the company’s resolve to make a difference in each one of these sectors.

TV+ will be dedicated to providing deep reporting and unique content; News+ will offer a highly curated selection of news you can read in complete privacy; Apple Card provides a unique offering that will define consumer expectations in the industry.

Perhaps Apple’s plans for Apple Arcade will be just as ambitious?

It wasn’t so long ago that Apple had no place at all in gaming.

Now I think Apple is making a transition from being a platform upon which people can create and play games into becoming a games publisher in its own right.

I can’t help but wonder how Apple and its new games subscription platform can meet its own often-stated ambition to “make a difference” in the new sector it just entered.

Where’s the puck?

Games aren’t new.

Since the first Magnavox arrived, there’s a rich history to gaming that has inspired books, music, films and exhibitions.

Games and movies are intertwined, and most great action films have accompanying games experiences. We’ve all heard of gaming giants such Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo or Sega.

An Ericsson survey claims: “Eight out of 10 consumers surveyed watch TV and video at least daily, while five out of 10 play video games with the same frequency.”

How can Apple enter such a mature space and make a positive difference to it?

How can it create a gaming platform exciting enough that games developers who work with competing systems will want to design games for it?

Perhaps it plans to bring the games to life?

Apple continues to invest in relationships with the big names in the AR/VR space, from Adobe to Unreal and Unity. WWDC 2018 saw it introduce a new AR gaming experience from LEGO. Apple’s relationship with Valve (set to launch the Index VR glasses in June) seems a little more complex.

Deployment of new gaming technologies is expensive, which slows adoption. Games and hardware cost a lot of money — but what if the games were available via subscription and key components of the hardware were items you already had?

With iPhone as the primary processor, I think Apple is building an AR-based gaming platform in which Apple Arcade subscribers can enjoy truly immersive games for playback on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or any other future Apple device — logically including Apple Glass.

This will let gamers experiment with Apple’s platforms, enabling developers, gamers and the company to better figure out what games work in AR without disappointing consumers. You’ll pay a lot for any Apple glasses, but just a few dollars for cutting-edge games that work with them.

What about the enterprise?

There’s an enterprise take to this.

If Apple succeeds in fostering mass market AR device deployment for games, then enterprises will also have an instant audience for their own AR experiences.

History shows Apple is very good at creating platform ecosystems on which hundreds of millions of consumers reside.

If adoption takes place, then enterprises will have an even bigger opportunity to explore use of AR/VR in customer, internal and B2B communications.

This very likely means some of the most viral AR/VR games will be picked up as sponsorship/marketing packages by some big brands.

The only question is when Apple will play its next hand in this game.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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