Technology

What Is Apple Arcade? Should You Subscribe?

If you have yet to set foot in the Apple Arcade, then perhaps it’s time you did. Apple Arcade is an easy and affordable way to play popular games on your iPhone and other Apple devices. It may not be the most popular gaming subscription service, but it has reshaped mobile gaming to some extent, and it is home to a handful of excellent exclusives.

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What Does Apple Arcade Include, and How Much Is It?

Apple Arcade offers around 180 games for iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac. The library is a mixture of exclusive titles developed especially for Apple Arcade and popular games available in the regular app store and on other platforms. There are no ads or in-app purchases in Apple Arcade, and games that usually contain them are ad-free with extra content unlocked.

If you want to subscribe, you can pay $5 per month or $50 per year (£5 and £50, respectively, in the UK). You can share a subscription with up to five other family members. Each person can download, install, and play different games, just as though they had an individual membership.

How to Subscribe to Apple Arcade

It’s easy to set up a subscription on your Apple device. Here’s how:

  1. Open the App Store on your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac.
  2. Tap or click on the Arcade tab.
  3. Depending on whether you have tried Apple Arcade before, you will get the option to Try It Free or Start Playing.
  4. Proceed, and you will be presented with payment terms and prompted to confirm.
  5. Weirdly, there’s no annual option when you first subscribe; it’s just $5 per month, but you can switch to the annual option by going to Settings on your iPhone or iPad, tapping your account name at the top, and choosing Subscriptions (on Apple TV it is found in User and Accounts). Select Apple Arcade and choose Apple Arcade Annual (1 Year) to switch. If you’re doing this on a Mac, you need to open the App Store app and click your account name at the bottom left, then choose Account Settings at the top, scroll down to click Manage, look for Apple Arcade listed in your Subscriptions, and click Edit.

Once you subscribe, you can pick games via the Arcade tab in the App Store app. Content is organized into categories. You will find charts listing New Games and Top Arcade Games. The latest additions here are Timeless Classics, covering things like chess and solitaire, and App Store Greats, which lists games that are available in the App Store but usually have a price tag, ads, or in-app purchases.

Free Trial and Apple One

Apple offers anyone with an Apple device a one-month free trial of Apple Arcade. If you buy a new Apple device, you will often get a three-month free trial of Apple Arcade. It’s worth noting that if you cancel your free trial, you lose access immediately. At the end of the free trial period you will automatically be billed $5 monthly unless you cancel.

You can also get Apple Arcade as part of an Apple One subscription. It starts from $15 per month and includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, and a few other services. Apple offers a one-month free trial on Apple One, but accepting that free trial will immediately end any other free trials of any of the bundled services.

Best Apple Arcade Games

Apple via Simon Hill

When Apple Arcade first launched, it focused on exclusive games, but Apple switched its strategy last year. You will now find several games that are also available in the App Store for a fee (including my favorite tower defense game) and some games that usually have ads or in-app purchases. The Apple Arcade version of a game always has a + added to its name. Apple adds new games frequently, but it also sometimes removes games. Here are a few of the best Apple Arcade games right now:

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