how to jump in and start playing


How do I access Apple Arcade?

Arcade is included in iOS 13, which is rolling out to all recent iPhones (6s or newer) as a software update from today, and is also available on this year’s iPod Touch. Once your device is updated, head to the App Store and you’ll see Arcade as a tab at the bottom. Arcade is also coming to iPad and Apple TV when those devices get their yearly software updates in the coming weeks, and Mac computers sometime this year.

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How much does it cost?

Apple Arcade costs $7.99 per month, but the first month is free so everyone with iOS 13 should be able to try it out and cancel before paying anything. The pricing works out to around $100 for a year, taking the free month into account, which is a good chunk of change but equivalent to fewer than two new packaged retail games.

What do I get for the money?

Subscribers and their families can download and play any number of the available Arcade games from the library at no additional charge. One subscription covers up to six people in a family. There will be more than 100 games at any given time, with new titles being added (and, presumably, removed) on a regular basis. There are no advertisements or additional purchases in any of the games, so you (or your kids) can play safe in the knowledge that $7.99 a month is all you’ll pay. All the games are new and can’t be found on the App Store, Android or in any other subscription service when they launch on Arcade.

So are these all touchscreen games?

Yes, but many support controllers as well. You can play with any wireless controller marked “Made for iPhone”, which includes retro-style pads, more modern controllers and mounts or grips made specifically for phones like the Gamevice. In iOS 13 Apple has also added support for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One wireless controllers. Simply put your controller in wireless pairing mode (there’s a dedicated button on the Xbox Controller, or hold the PS button and the Share button at the same time for PS4), and then find the controller in your device’s Bluetooth settings.

Shantae on the train with a DualShock 4. Of course some sort of mount for the phone is required to make this work.

Shantae on the train with a DualShock 4. Of course some sort of mount for the phone is required to make this work. Credit:Tim Biggs

How do I get the games on my devices?

On the App Store’s Arcade page, subscribers will se a “Get” button next to each game, which they can tap to download. Games range in size from less than 200MB to more than 2GB, which is much smaller than console games but be sure to check the description if you have a tight download cap. Once downloaded, games will work even if you have no internet connection. Progress is saved to iCloud if you’ve enabled that in Settings, so you should be able to pick up where you left off between devices.

Which games should I play first?

Right now there are more than 70 games included in Apple Arcade, with the company saying more will be added soon to bring it up to the promised 100+. That’s a pretty overwhelming number of games to wade through, and we’re yet to take a look at many of them (more have been added since the iOS 13 Beta we’ve been playing with this week), so we can’t offer much in the way of “best of” recommendations. But there’s a few ways you could narrow things down.

We have been playing a lot of Cricket Through the Ages. It's a delight.

We have been playing a lot of Cricket Through the Ages. It’s a delight.

First of all Arcade offers category pages for things like “adventure”, “puzzle” and “for beginners”, which is handy. There’s also a “showcase” and a “daily play” suggestion on the home page, if you want to let Apple select a game for you, and every game has an auto-play video so you could just scroll slowly down the full list and see what takes your fancy.

Seasoned gamers might also spot new games from people or series they’re already familiar with. Such as a few from major publishers:

  • Chu Chu Rocket! Universe and Sonic Racing from Sega
  • Shinsekai Into the Depths from Capcom
  • Rayman Mini from Ubisoft
  • Various Daylife from Square Enix
  • LEGO Brawls from LEGO
  • Frogger in Toy World from Konami
  • Cricket Through the Ages, Bleak Sword, Painty Mob and Exit the Gungeon from Devolver Digital

A few sequels:

  • Shantae and the Seven Sirens
  • Oceanhorn II
  • Cat Quest II
  • Super Impossible Road

And a few which have been made by developers with previous hits:

  • Spidersaurs by Wayforward (Shantae, Mighty Switch Force)
  • Assemble with Care by usTwo (Monument Valley)
  • Grindstone by Capybara (Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, Super Time Force)
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts by Simogo (Device 6, Year Walk)
  • Hot Lava by Klei (Mark of the Ninja, Don’t Starve)

Of course you’ll miss out on a lot of surprising and innovative stuff if you only stick to the familiar, and in this case there’s no risk in dipping your toes into games you’d ordinarily be hesitant to jump into.

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