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Apple Arcade may boost ranks of gamers

San Francisco

APPLE'S entry into online games with a low-cost subscription plan is expected to bring a fresh set of consumers into gaming and potentially reshape the multibillion-dollar market.

Apple Arcade, set to be launched on Thursday, rides a trend of video games played by subscribers instead of purchased as downloads or disks, and its US$4.99 monthly price could wind up boosting ranks of players.

"My hunch is that it's a good thing for the market overall," said NPD Group games executive director Mat Piscatella. "Apple Arcade might eat into free-to-play titles, or it might expand the market overall and attract many new players that haven't yet been drawn to paying for content on mobile."

Apple Arcade differs from rivals by offering unlimited access for a flat monthly price to more than 100 exclusive games uninterrupted by ads or the hawking of virtual goods.

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"The games themselves don't have in-game purchase mechanics; instead, there is a beginning, middle and end," said Wedbush Securities equity research managing director Michael Pachter. "That's a different type of game than free-to-play, so I think there is definitely an audience."

Arcade fits into a subscription model that is gaining traction, according to analysts. AFP

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