It’s Hard to Use Apple Arcade Without Wondering How Developers Will Be Paid

Apple Arcade launched last week with a huge lineup. This week, I’m trying to unpack the service as I spend time with it, and I’m going to highlight five games, as I work through questions about the service and consider its promise: paying $5 per month for a bunch of games that’ll never ask for another dollar. This kicked off with a closer look at the delightful puzzler Grindstone, a game easy to imagine filled with microtransactions.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Since I read that Apple has apparently paid the initial wave of Apple Arcade developers up-front, I’ve assumed that they might be treating it partly as a marketing expense. They don’t necessarily need to pay developers less than they receive in subscription fees. Some Android phone manufacturers, Samsung especially, have been strongly marketing their phones as gaming devices. Apple Arcade is a grab at the high-end phone gaming market, promising a better experience for not a lot of money (after you buy the hardware, of course).

Play Pass, meanwhile, is a total nightmare. With the royalties being based on the time spent in the app, the optimal way for a business to make money from Play Pass games is to spend as little as possible on games that hook players for as long as possible. Treadmills as far as the eye can see.

I still like how when I pay for a game on modern digital stores, some substantial amount of that money goes to the developer. It feels sustainable, and the fact that so many power players in games want everyone on subscriptions feels like someone’s getting ripped off.


I’m strongly of the opinion that subscriptions screw creators in the long run. Just look at Spotify. Make it big or make nothing.


i wish i could just pay 10 or 15 dollars for Mini Motorways and have it forever. I came back to Mini Metro pretty often, and I’d like to have them both on my iPad to play whenever I want, but I’m not paying a monthly fee just to make sure I can play it for 30 minutes before bed or on the train occasionally.