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Apple Arcade Senior Director: Games Service Is About Fun

Apple Arcade Senior Director: Games Service Is About Fun

The head of Apple’s subscription games service, Apple Arcade, says the service wasn’t set up to make the company any money, even though he insists that Apple Arcade game developers are making money. Apple launched the games subscription service in 2019 and it is about to celebrate its fifth anniversary. The service offers hundreds of games for Apple platforms, including iOS, iPadOS, Apple TV, Mac, and the Vision Pro.

Apple Arcade Senior Director Alex Rofman has told The Guardian newspaper that the service is not about promoting spatial games, or about making money.

“It was about games that were designed just to be fun and engaging, not built around a business model, not built around timers or video ads,” said Rofman. “We were not looking to replicate the top genres on mobile necessarily, we weren’t looking to bring a match-three that was better than Candy Crush we focused on games that wouldn’t have had an opportunity were it not for Arcade.”

“We fund the development of new games so that developers can build them without risk,” he continued. Speaking of “Sneaky Sasquatch” as one example, he said. “It’s very aligned with Apple’s values: it’s an incredibly deep, challenging game, but there’s no violence. There’s nothing offensive.”

“So we do think that Arcade is an outlet for indie studios with creative, innovative ideas,” he said. “That is still important to us and always will be.”

Not everyone has such a high opinion of Apple Arcade, as game developers have said that Apple doesn’t actually care about gaming. Some game developers have gone so far as to say that there is a “smell of death” around the Apple Arcade games subscription service.

“At the very top of the company there needs to be a passion and respect for games, and there just isn’t,” one developer said. “It all depends on how much buy-in there is from those guys at the top, and I don’t think they really value Arcade or invest in it the same way you see them invest in music or TV.”

The service initially paid out generous upfront payments to developers, providing a lifeline to developers. “Despite its imperfections, we’re very very happy Arcade exists. It has made premium games viable on mobile,” one games studio executive said, explaining that their company would not exist without Apple’s support.

Rofman is pushing back on such disparaging comments.

“[Developers] with games where the player base is growing can expect to see their bonus pool earnings grow as well,” claims Rofman, “given that they’re based on engagement.”

“But as you can imagine, despite the incredibly high quality of our catalog,” said Rofman, “not every game in a catalog of more than 200 titles is going to grow its player base month over month.”