A month ago, as I was scrolling through my Apple App Store, I came across a familiar-looking app—Cooking Mama. Hit with nostalgia from my Nintendo 3DS days, I clicked into the game, wanting to revisit a childhood favourite of mine.
Unthinkingly, I pressed the “Get” button, only to be met with a paywall. “Play Over 200 Ad-Free Games”, it read.
Apple Arcade is Apple’s video game subscription service that has been in Malaysia for over three years now. Since I don’t play that many mobile games, I’ve never felt inclined to check it out, despite Apple offering a month-long free trial for it.
But with Cooking Mama staring at me with her bright smile and pink head band, I decided it was finally time to cash in on my free trial. Here’s how the month went.
A quality, curated catalogue
I’m not going to lie, the selection of games on Apple Arcade is actually incredible in both quality and quantity.
To be very clear, most games on Apple Arcade are uniquely kept to the service, and aren’t available outside the subscription otherwise. However, some games are denoted with the + symbol at the end, which seems to mean that they’re available in the app store as paid games too.
In any case, most—if not all—of the games on Apple Arcade seem to be very well-made and feature gorgeous graphics and animations.
Of course, I also downloaded Cooking Mama. Sadly, it didn’t hit as hard as it did when I was 10, but it still made for a fun afternoon.
The ad-free experience
One of my biggest peeves when it comes to mobile games is that so many of them are just stuffed with ads. Sure, you can usually press skip after a couple of seconds, but it’s so frustratingly pervasive, especially when some of these ads are… questionable.
I understand that games have to make money somehow, but the current state of such ads feels way too predatory, especially considering the young demographic many of these mobile games seem to be targeting.
With Apple Arcade, though, you can now pay to play games that are completely ad-free.
However, there isn’t a clear answer online about how Apple is actually paying developers on Arcade. But considering the catalogue of titles available on its platform, it seems to be enough to allow those developers to properly focus on making genuinely good games.
Of course, there are still some great mobile games on the App Store that are free of ads and free to download too. My favourite one is Mario Kart Tour, the only game that has kept my interest for over two years.
No internet, no problem?
During our recent company cruise trip, I decided not to purchase an internet package. Although I spent most of my time doing fun activities with my colleagues, I also had a couple of hours of chill downtime where I found myself having nothing to do.
Thankfully, though, I had downloaded a couple of Arcade games before disembarking the port, and I was delighted to find that the apps did not require an internet connection to work.
I spent a good hour or so drawing roads on Mini Motorway while chilling on the balcony of our room, and boy was that therapeutic.
However, the issue came after I got back on land and connected to the internet. Turns out, my progress on Mini Motorway was not saved. I’m not very sure why, but I think it might have something to do with my Apple Game Centre resetting the game progress.
Other than that, though, I really love how I was able to play games without Wi-Fi. Aside from a cruise trip, I can see it being great entertainment for flights and commutes too.
Sharing is caring
Arguably, one of the best features about the Arcade subscription is the Family Sharing option.
With this, you can get access to Apple Arcade for up to six members. This means that if you fully utilise it, it would be around RM3.30 per person, per month. That’s a pretty good deal in my opinion.
Overall, I believe the price is only worth it for those who actually play a lot of mobile games. Towards the end of my subscription, the only game I was still playing regularly was Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat. As much as I love that game, it really doesn’t justify a monthly price tag of RM19.90.
I recommend giving the free trial a go and downloading everything that stands out to you so you can get a feel for what games you’d play on the regular. This way, you can determine whether the subscription is actually worth it.
Cancelling it is easy too. You just have to go to your settings in the App Store and click into the subscriptions tab. Make sure you set a reminder for it before you get charged for the next month though.