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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."

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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.

"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