Imagine not being screwed with while you play mobile games.
September 21, 2019 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Apple Arcade Is Mobile Gaming Without All The Bullshit [Kotaku] “The Apple Arcade service is an all-you-can-play offering of more than 70 new games that is available starting today for $5 a month, with a one-month free trial.. It runs on iPhones and iPads now and will soon also work on iMacs and other devices including Apple TV. Because of the way the games are being offered, there’s no need for the developers to include any of the aggravations typical of modern gaming. There are no timers designed to stop you from playing the game you’re enjoying unless you pay extra. There are no ads. There are no energy meters, and no microtransactions. There are, simply, none of the manipulative systems that have contaminated nearly all of mobile gaming.”

• Apple Arcade is great because developers have steadily made iOS an amazing platform [Eurogamer]
“The iPhone is a really odd games device. It's sort of hard to remember this now, in an era when so many games have mastered it and provided a grammar for others to follow. But clear your mind and look at it: touchscreen, no buttons or sticks, haptic feedback and tilt but no triggers. A lot of the first games on the store really struggled with this. There was a rush of games, in my mind at least, that were cluttered with all kinds of virtual buttons and joysticks. But over time people discovered things. Autorunners like Canabalt proved you could take a lot of control away from the player but still give them meaningful stuff to do. The pinch and the swipe started to take over. Games slowly began to work with the grain of the wood on smartphones. It's been brilliant to watch. And it's all happened without the thing that a lot of game designers over the years have been able to rely on. Not buttons, but a first party that guides the way. Smartphones feel like a platform where the grammar has come straight from the sharp end of development.”
• Apple Arcade Shows What Mobile Gaming Can Be When Freed of Microtransactions [The Hollywood Reporter]
“Mobile gaming has fallen into a familiar rut over the last few years: match-three puzzlers, Battle Royale shooters, augmented reality Pokémon Go copycats, tower defense games that push card-collecting mechanics on unsuspecting users (and parents' bank accounts). Amid the same old routine, truly ambitious mobile titles have been few and far between, further convoluting a market that feels more watered down with each passing year. The majority of these issues stem from developers looking for a good way to monetize their games. Most mobile titles are either free or only cost players a few bucks upfront (or a few hundred bucks over the course of a game's lifetime in the case of free-to-play titles). Apple Arcade, Apple’s game-centric subscription service meant to fit right in between its Apple Music and Apple TV+ services, aims to change that. Debuting alongside iOS 13, the new service is an all-you-can-play, buffet-style selection of games available for a set monthly price. It’s also one of the best things to happen to mobile gaming in years.”
• Is Apple Arcade Worth Getting? [IGN]
“And if you’ve been on the fence wondering if $5 a month is worth paying to play a selection of curated mobile games that are all certified as ad and microtransaction-free, I can tell you that based on my experience with the beta it most certainly is. [...] Instantly, I was taken aback by not only the quality of the Apple Arcade games but also how they felt like a return to everything mobile games were about when they first appeared on the App Store. When you play an Apple Arcade game you won’t be inundated with ads, timers, microtransactions, in-game currencies, or any of the other things that weigh down the vast majority of modern mobile games. You can just enjoy the games as they are, which makes it feel more like a console or PC gaming experience.”
• The 10 Apple Arcade launch games you have to play [The Verge]
“Let’s just get this out of the way: if you’re at all interested in high-quality mobile games and you own an iOS device, Apple Arcade is a no-brainer. The subscription service launches tomorrow for $4.99 a month, and it’s making its debut with a huge range of excellent games from renowned studios like Ustwo, Simogo, and Capy Games. If there are even two titles that pique your interest, that’s worth the price of admission. The biggest problem with the service right now, though, is that it can be overwhelming. There’s just so much. It can make figuring out where to start almost paralyzing. For the past few days I’ve been digging through the Apple Arcade lineup to pick out the 10 games I’d recommend most, spanning a number of genres and play styles. (It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it.) However, it’s important to note that these aren’t the only games worth playing on Apple Arcade. Far from it. In fact, one of the most startling things has been discovering just how excellent the fairly large lineup of games is. There are a few disappointments — most notably the stiff and drab Various Daylife, from the team behind the excellent JRPG Bravely Default — but Apple Arcade has a solid batting percentage at launch.”
posted by Fizz (112 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hey! I remember the Sega Channel!

I assume this will go about as well. Brief popularity followed by dissolution and never being spoken about again.
posted by downtohisturtles at 2:53 PM on September 21, 2019


I hate this shit on pure principle alone.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:59 PM on September 21, 2019 [8 favorites]


Scorching takes... this seems to have a LOT of decent content, why the intense scepticism?

I'm Android all the way, so no dog in this fight, but... it seems impressive?
posted by ominous_paws at 3:03 PM on September 21, 2019 [13 favorites]


ok but why would they offer a seemingly good usable service for a low price. why would i trust this. it is 2019 and the only reason for something good and useable and affordable to exist is for it to plan to kill my entire family.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:03 PM on September 21, 2019 [82 favorites]


I'm not part of the Apple Ecosystem, so I don't have a horse in this particular horse-fight. But:

Getting rid of the worst of the microtransactions and pay-to-win and loot-box gambling is all to the good. Apple deserves full marks for that. But this is still "games as a service" rather than "games as a thing you buy and own". And this is still gaming with no past and no future.

From where I sit typing this, I can glance over and see a shelf full of physical copies of PS2 and Game Cube games. When I get nostalgic about any of them, I can pop them in an play them (now, almost two decades later) and, barring failures of the console hardware, they'll work. There's no fundamental reason they can't still work in twenty more years.

Even if the console hardware and physical storage media for the games succumb to the ravages of time, these old games can be preserved through emulation.

I don't see any analogous way for Apple Arcade games to have a legacy. Without the ability to experience all of gaming history, developers and players can't build on the rich language of the medium that encompasses that history. Without the ability to look at what has gone before, we cannot enable the culture of criticism that video games need to grow as an artistic medium.

Imagine if the only "classic" movies you could watch or music you could hear were those bits that earned enough commercial success to be re-made for the platform du jour...
posted by sourcequench at 3:04 PM on September 21, 2019 [23 favorites]


I think it's easy to snark on mobile gaming. There's been a lot of improvement to the mobile marketplace and a lot of developers are porting really amazing games and adapting them for the touchscreen nature of mobile devices.

Of course, they're never truly going to get rid of microtransactions, shovelware, etc. But creating a walled garden where you pay an upfront fee for entry is probably the best workaround. You're paying for a service and that service has promised to get rid of certain things and this is what Apple Arcade seems like, a step towards this style of gaming.

I'm not a huge fan of games as service and not owning the games I play, but this seems like a middle ground. You're getting some well-known game developers and they're releasing games in such a way that they get rid all of the bad, all that extra pay to win bullshit, all of that has been removed. Maybe it'll work. Maybe it won't.

The games they've opened up with all look amazing and I'll be trying out on my wife's iPhone. We get one month free, so why not give it a whirl. The worst thing that could happen is that we're proven right and it's same old same, in which case, you just cancel that trial and move on.
posted by Fizz at 3:05 PM on September 21, 2019 [7 favorites]


I would still hate it even if they allowed my family to live.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:08 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


I just find it appalling that Apple created this problem of a screwed up mobile gaming ecosystem, and now their solution is a different form of rent-seeking. I mean it sounds better than what came before, and it's not like the Android world has any real solution either. Still it all just kinda sucks.
posted by Nelson at 3:10 PM on September 21, 2019 [9 favorites]


Maybe we're so used to being screwed by microtransactions and pay to play type of gaming that the very concept of a game that doesn't do that, seems like a water fountain in an oasis. And maybe this has all be carefully arranged to get us used to the idea of games as a subscription service. Maybe this was their evil intent all along.

The games do look good, but this is likely the tip of an iceberg, and we won't own physical games in about 10 or 15 years.

*sighs*
posted by Fizz at 3:18 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


Yeah I don't really get the hate here. People aren't willing to pay enough for mobile games to make them work as standalone products. Various developers have tried at various times and it just doesn't pan out—people are willing to pay a buck or two upfront, but that's not enough to support high-quality game development. Which created a nasty cycle of low-quality reskinned games produced with minimal effort. So then more complex, higher-budget games went to ads and (especially) microtransactions, because that's a model that works—people will pay significant amounts of money in small chunks, over time—but it's annoying as fuck to be constantly nickel-and-dimed as a player.

A Spotify-like service is probably the future of gaming, unless there's a sudden sea change in people's willingness to cough up $20 or $30 upfront, which I don't really see happening.

And, yeah, this is Apple-only for now, but if it works well you know it'll be copied by others. Apple has the deep enough pockets to be the first-mover and take the risk; others will follow.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:23 PM on September 21, 2019 [21 favorites]


Absolutely the result of me becoming old and washed, I'm sure, but... I'm not sure I'm entirely bothered by the idea I won't own these mobile games ten or even five years down the line? Like, I wouldn't judge anyone negatively if they DID care, but... even the old games I do own I don't actually get out any more,and those are full, real games. At this mobile level I'm not sure it's that important to me. I've bought a lot of mobile games and there's currently a grand total of one left on my phone I haven't deleted.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:23 PM on September 21, 2019 [20 favorites]


When I was a kid, playing video games usually meant feeding quarters into a machine in a public arcade. Ultimately, I did not come to own a Qix, Tempest, or Quantum machine despite my investment.

That’s okay. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
posted by sonascope at 3:25 PM on September 21, 2019 [28 favorites]


Leaving aside the snark for a bit, I'm just curious how many of these titles will be accessible to me as a blind gamer?

I suspect not many, but Apple has done a great job with accessibility in general, so it's not impossible. I imagine a world in which access for all from the ground up was part of game design...
posted by Alensin at 3:26 PM on September 21, 2019 [12 favorites]


A Spotify-like service is probably the future of gaming

It probably is, and I hate it with a burning passion.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:26 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Anyone who thinks that Apple has ever done ANYTHING intentional about games in the past has clearly not paid much attention to Apple as a company, because their company history is one of consistently ignoring games with the occasional moment of dipping their toes in to get them wrong.

Which is why it’s so impressive that this service has worked so well so far, with a bunch of genuinely good games available at launch, free of the stuff that made the mobile game environment so toxic. There’s like thirty games on there right now that I want to play, and by all accounts, the deals offered to devs were highly enticing overall. If you aren’t doing sleazy stuff as a mobile game developer, it’s apparently pretty hard to make money nowadays, and being offered a payment from Apple for mobile platform exclusivity is apparently juicy enough to sound worth it.

But yeah, if you’re looking for someone to blame for the exploitative model and race to the bottom for pricing, blame Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Hearthstone, etc. for being the ones to actually drive the mobile game market over the years. I still remember how iPhone games used to cost TEN WHOLE DOLLARS back when the App Store was new, but ever since Angry Birds recalibrated everyone’s notions to expect that polished games should only cost a dollar, it’s all been downhill.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:29 PM on September 21, 2019 [15 favorites]


Also, I may sign up just to play the one from UsTwo, because Monument Valley and its sequels are my favorite games ever (with Osmos close behind).
posted by sonascope at 3:32 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]


It didn't mention it in the article, but if you own a PS4 or Xbox controller you can pair it with your iOS device via Bluetooth and a lot of games play a lot better that way.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:32 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]


Soooo...Does this replace the Games section of the App Store, or is it in addition to the Games section?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:33 PM on September 21, 2019


> I hate this shit on pure principle alone.
> I would still hate it even if they allowed my family to live.
> It probably is, and I hate it with a burning passion.

Okay. But why?
posted by reductiondesign at 3:35 PM on September 21, 2019 [11 favorites]


Thorzdad: in addition to.
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:35 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's yet another way of walling me in.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:37 PM on September 21, 2019


Mobile gaming is fucked. People won't pay for games and so we get these fucking terrible exploitative skinner box 'free to play' games and hardly anything else. This subscription thing isn't ideal but if gets developers interested in making games for iOS that aren't evil cash miners I'm all for it.

I might wait for iPadOS on the 30th, but I'm for sure going to at least trial Arcade. The launch lineup actually looks pretty good, and the early adopter consensus looks positive too.
posted by rodlymight at 3:38 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]


> Okay. But why?

Forget it man, it's gamertown.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:39 PM on September 21, 2019 [15 favorites]


To be fair: I've given up on mobile games long ago, and if this service is slightly less horrible than others, then good.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:43 PM on September 21, 2019


Incidentally, Google appears to be testing a similar subscription service of their own. Time will tell if it’s any good, especially given that Apple Arcade devs have to sign an exclusivity contract for their games to be iOS-only (but as we’ve seen already, console/computer releases are fine).
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:50 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


You're paying for a service and that service has promised to get rid of certain things and this is what Apple Arcade seems like, a step towards this style of gaming.

Like it sort of filters out bad content on a meta level... and $5, you say?

Naahhh, that'll never take.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:57 PM on September 21, 2019 [40 favorites]


Here's why I don't like this, or mobile gaming in general: it fucking sucks for developers. Who wants to develop anything for a fraction of the $5 subscription cost?
posted by boo_radley at 3:59 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


Do we actually know it sucks, or are you merely projecting?

...if the former, then what are the numbers? Presumably UsTwo isn't working for free.
posted by aramaic at 4:02 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


Here's why I don't like this, or mobile gaming in general: it fucking sucks for developers. Who wants to develop anything for a fraction of the $5 subscription cost?

Because you don't have to be the gaming equivalent of Captain Ahab.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:05 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


I don't know any numbers, but I feel safe guaranteeing Apple is offering a lot more than just a fraction of the $5 subs. Apple is funding these games as an investment and eating the cost not covered by the subs, because a high-quality curated game collection is a huge value-add over Android phones. And mobile devs are fully on-board because mobile devs hate Android, because games are trivially easy to pirate on Android, so zero Android users buy games.
posted by rifflesby at 4:06 PM on September 21, 2019 [10 favorites]


Yeah, the devs have said that the payments were rather handsome. I believe it’s an up-front model when you’re invited to join.

Sure would be nice if we could avoid maybe the bulk of the SOMEONE SAID APPLE AND NOW I’M ANGERY noise that these threads tend to attract.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:07 PM on September 21, 2019 [33 favorites]


The folks that are preemptively mourning the mobile games we’re going to wish we still owned twenty years from now are going to have an absolute aneurysm when they hear about some little media upstarts called Netflix and Spotify.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:33 PM on September 21, 2019 [8 favorites]


I like mobile games (and I don't mind paying for them), and strongly dislike loot boxes, microtransactions, and advertising, so I'm probably inside the Venn diagram for this thing.

Prediction: if this proves to be reasonably successful, Nintendo gets on board.
posted by box at 4:33 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


But if this is apple paying the devs more than they would make from a portion of the $5 sub...isn't it like Uber for games?
posted by maxwelton at 4:39 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


I like mobile games somewhat. For example I paid for several different versions of the original Plants vs Zombies. It used to be a desktop game! And then I when it was mobile you couldn’t save progress to a new device. So I’ve played the entire game many many times.

I enjoy it.

The new version of it fucking sucked because of the game mechanics in it. And the “old” version is now also slightly changed.

Candy Crush and what not never got my attention.

The various Rusty Lake Cube mystery games that cost money I was happy to pay for (even tho I had to constantly look up clues BUT NOT PAY for said clues). Same with original Monument Valley.

Bloons is good and so is Kingdom Rush imho of silly fun tower defense games. I think Kingdom Rush has changed over time from when it was only online as part of Armor Games.

I’m happy to pay for quality. There’s unfortunately not a lot of it. I’m not a sophisticated gamer type but maybe I’m the person this subscription is for.

I don’t want free shitty games. I want something like that challenges me a bit and is more than just match 3 things. And has some nice art. That takes money and I want devs and the team to be paid fairly rather than be in a race to the bottom of shady practices.

Also.... Omg there’s new Rusty Lake games. I don’t know why some are free and some are paid but yay new ones!!!! I’d pay for them every time.

I also wish there wasn’t just outright naysaying and hate for this because it seems almost solely based on it being from Apple.
posted by affectionateborg at 4:40 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


But if this is apple paying the devs more than they would make from a portion of the $5 sub...isn't it like Uber for games?

Only if your long term goal is to make money on it and not as a strategic action to save a dying market full of garbage that supports your underlying ecosystem.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:42 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


I’ve always preferred games that I buy outright (for $3-6) that are contained and don’t have in app purchases or other freemium bullshit. On the rare occasions I do play a “free” game, I’m usually out the door the second I get to a point where I can’t continue without paying.

Considering the incredibly small number of games that I’ve had on my phone or iPad that I still go back to years later (Carcassone*, FTL, Mini Metro), I think I’m okay with the subscription model here, as long as I’m getting a game that’s actually a game, not a transactional extortion model. And I’m aware trading freemium for subscription is pot/kettle stuff, but I have a feeling I’ll enjoy this a hell of a lot more.

*Controversial stance: Carcassonne is a better game on a tablet than on a table. It even does the scoring for you, with no arguments about how many cities that farm touches!
posted by Ghidorah at 4:42 PM on September 21, 2019 [9 favorites]


Nintendo has the Wii Ware and nuked it.

I bought a Wii from a friend a bit ago as they were moving country and never played it.

I was excited to log into my Nintendo account and download the tons of games I had paid for... all the old NES and SNES stuff. But nope... sad me finds out Wii store is no longer in existence.

I wish they’d bring it back. I loved it.
posted by affectionateborg at 4:42 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


The Nintendo Switch Online sub includes NES and SNES apps each with dozens of games, just FYI.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:44 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


isn't it like Uber for games?

I know zero (or possibly less than zero, and am in fact actively misinformed) but my guess is that Apple picked $5 as a sweet spot for expenditure (hmm, maybe there's a website that's also picked $5 as a target fee....) where your having paid means you're motivated to engage with the content ("I paid, I need to get my $ worth!").

...and thereby it becomes a hook with which they (Apple) help ensure you stay inside their extremely profitable ecosystem, while also providing a non-zero offset for their expenditures. Sure, they're covering the initial outlay, but they're betting you'll stay engaged ($5+5+5+5 ... over and over and over ad infinitum...), and not-coincidentally they get your money every few years for new devices.
posted by aramaic at 4:45 PM on September 21, 2019


Sure would be nice if we could avoid maybe the bulk of the SOMEONE SAID APPLE AND NOW I’M ANGERY noise that these threads tend to attract.

Ha! Good luck with that!
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:49 PM on September 21, 2019


Uber is doing this loss leader thing in the hopes that the thing itself will someday cost less to provide. But Uber doesn't sell anybody a piece of hardware to go with using Uber. Apple has phones to sell. This is honestly something that's gotten me considering switching back to iPhone--I've been on Android since I gave up my iPhone 4--even as I'm simultaneously considering buying something other than a Macbook for my next laptop, which is bizarre. In a world with more great phones, they have to keep distinguishing theirs, and I'm tempted.
posted by Sequence at 4:52 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Not Apple per se but a certain business model they represent. Delete if you must.
posted by Dumsnill at 4:56 PM on September 21, 2019


I dunno, the math looks pretty enticing from my POV. If Apple gets 20 million subs, that’s $1.2 billion a year. I’m guessing Apple is shooting for their usual 30% take, which leaves $840 million to pay developers. Let’s say a popular game captures 1% total usage and is compensated accordingly. I would think $8.4 million could make for a very good year for an indie dev.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 4:57 PM on September 21, 2019 [12 favorites]


It would be, and I'll believe it when I see it.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:09 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, it's sort of odd to see the XBox Game Pass model (which isn't new) bandied about as though it were a new crazy thing.
posted by aramaic at 5:16 PM on September 21, 2019 [5 favorites]


From my POV, you don't own anything on your iPhone already. Applications stop working the moment the developer pulls them, or the moment that iOS is updated in a way that makes the app stop working, when the dev is no longer interested. The few apps that make me think fondly of having an iPad c. 2011 are ancient history. There is no such thing as software history on iOS. You can (sometimes) jailbreak iOS and/or save the apps, but you can't go back to the operating system version that would allow the software to work. It's a computer that's not a computer and it's so sad.

As far as I can tell, arguing that one does not "own" Arcade titles is not realizing that you already own nothing about your iDevice, in any meaningful historical sense, except the data if you can export it off to the cloud or otherwise.
posted by sylvanshine at 5:18 PM on September 21, 2019 [19 favorites]


It's one more thing you don't own and barely have access to.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:23 PM on September 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


Not Apple per se but a certain business model they represent. Delete if you must.

Maybe it’s because I came of age during the 80s and pumped goodness knows how many quarters into machines that I didn’t own but this doesn’t bother me like subscription music services. I have zero interest in Apple Music or Spotify.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:29 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


If I could have gotten an unlimited usage pass at the arcade as a kid, I would have been all over that.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:31 PM on September 21, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm also fantastically old, but it bothers me.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:35 PM on September 21, 2019


The folks that are preemptively mourning the mobile games we’re going to wish we still owned twenty years from now are going to have an absolute aneurysm when they hear about some little media upstarts called Netflix and Spotify.

I still buy Blu-rays and vinyl albums (and paper books, too.)

How do you buy a physical copy of these games?
posted by Automocar at 5:55 PM on September 21, 2019


Hey, what if there were games or other software that we just, like, payed some sticker price for, and this was how we got access to it and the people who built it got paid?

And there was only a subscription involved for gameplay taking place in some sort of shared ongoing online environment?

I mean, sure, we could force ourselves into situations that are nominally free at the turnstyle while the value recovery is hidden in data harvesting, advertisement, and pay-per-in-game-reward, and I'm sure that has its perceived benefits, but, you know, there's always being a bona fide customer instead of a victim.
posted by wildblueyonder at 5:56 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


As well as the initial commission, are developers also paid on a per-play popularity basis? Amazon tried this a few years years ago and after a good start, the program stagnated, then died. The nice thing is that unlike Apple's program, once installed the apps have stayed registered in the account for later download to new machines. Thanks to Amazon, the family account has somewhere over a thousand apps, mainly games, but they are getting stale.
posted by meehawl at 5:57 PM on September 21, 2019


But if this is apple paying the devs more than they would make from a portion of the $5 sub...isn't it like Uber for games?

It doesn't seem like the same thing to me. Presumably as they get more and more good content on there, the subs will go up, thus the the portion of $5 subs rises to be more than they're paying the devs. At that point they can pin it to a percent and let it rise, or keep all the surplus.

Maybe the difference between that and Uber is, only one subscriber can use a given Uber at once, and they have to pay the drivers per use. An unlimited number of people can play the game simultaneously, and they only pay the dev to make it once.

I'm not much of a game player, but I don't hate the idea automatically. Maybe as an alternative they could offer the game as a stand-alone download at a much higher, one-time price? But I wouldn't buy it. I've got crap tons of songs on my iPhone I never listen to. Only a small fraction of them are ones I would go seek out and buy permanently, now that the novelty has worn off. And an old movie I remember fondly doesn't have to take up space in my house. I can one-time-rent it for cheap any time I want to see it again, which is infrequent.
posted by ctmf at 6:10 PM on September 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


I still buy Blu-rays and vinyl albums (and paper books, too.) How do you buy a physical copy of these games?

Have you tried buying a physical copy of Roma or The Ballad of Buster Scruggs?

I'm not saying that it's not a problem (I have hundreds of Blu-rays and well over 1,000 CDs and LPs and I'm still buying both), but videogames aren't the only media that's moving to an ephemeral future. I was trying to buy a physical copy of Kelsey Lu's Blood the other day and was kinda shocked to find that it doesn't seem to be on CD or vinyl. MP3 and streaming only ...

I rarely have any desire at all to play an old videogame, but sometimes I do, so I get the concern. I've bought Space Channel 5 twice now but don't currently own a console that can play it. Hell, I don't even know if it's available for current-gen consoles. [Does quick Google search, learns about the in-development Space Channel 5 VR.] OK, looks like I'm gonna be buying Space Channel 5 again.
posted by Mothlight at 6:22 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


Have you tried buying a physical copy of Roma or The Ballad of Buster Scruggs?

Exceptions that prove the rule, by a company doing their damndest to upend 85 years of tradition, who will (eventually) be steamrolled by the legacy media conglomerates.
posted by Automocar at 6:28 PM on September 21, 2019


A cup of coffee is $5 and you don’t own that either yet y’all be buying that shit on the daily. This is a third the cost of a movie ticket. A tenth the cost of a concert or theatre ticket. Entertainment is TIME you spend not physical media you own.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:37 PM on September 21, 2019 [16 favorites]


It's a computer that's not a computer and it's so sad.

I have an original iPad. The LCII in my closet is more functional at this point.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:42 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


I don't hate the idea but I do wonder how good a deal it will actually be for developers in the long run-- certainly musicians have mixed feelings about streaming services, to understate the issue. I also wonder what the long term effect will be for games outside the arcade, if people will feel less inclined to buy outside games once they're already paying a subscription. If Apple only invites established, prestigious developers to the arcade, and the arcade ends up sucking all the money out of the ecosystem, it might lead to the somewhat odd situation where the arcade is increasingly composed of developers and ports from other systems.
posted by Pyry at 6:43 PM on September 21, 2019


I'm signing up as fast as i can. Are you kidding me? Sharing with the entire family and i can stop working constantly to keep the kids out of the casino hellscape of the app store kid games?! Hell yes.
posted by odinsdream at 6:46 PM on September 21, 2019 [19 favorites]


Hey, what if there were games or other software that we just, like, payed some sticker price for, and this was how we got access to it and the people who built it got paid?

And there was only a subscription involved for gameplay taking place in some sort of shared ongoing online environment?


That would be wonderful, but the market refuses. The fair price for the four games I've tried so far on Apple Arcade would be in the 10-15 dollar range. People would see that price and laugh. You can't get anyone to buy a mobile game for five dollars, and even three is a hard sell.
posted by rifflesby at 7:10 PM on September 21, 2019 [9 favorites]


I just randomly looked at a game in the App Store as a comparison: Asphalt. Free to download! And then the Vault of Tokens costs ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. There are other token add-ons, ranging from $5 to $100.

So sure, in light of that, $60/year seems... reasonable.

Is it a different model? Yes. (For iOS and Apple at least.) Better? Maybe, because the current one on these platforms is very bad.
posted by hijinx at 7:14 PM on September 21, 2019 [4 favorites]


Incidentally, Google appears to be testing a similar subscription service of their own.

I'm not confident it'll be any good. This kind of service relies on curation to function, and the whole idea is anathema to Google. But if there's also a no-microtransactions clause for Google's version, it'll still be way better than 90% of what's on the Play Store.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:15 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm not confident it'll be any good

It's Google -- the "games" will be 75% How To Be A Nazi and 25% Jordan Peterson Is God.
posted by aramaic at 7:52 PM on September 21, 2019 [3 favorites]


A cup of coffee is $5 and you don’t own that either yet y’all be buying that shit on the daily. This is a third the cost of a movie ticket. A tenth the cost of a concert or theatre ticket. Entertainment is TIME you spend not physical media you own.

Sure, if you think of media as “content” to be “consumed” and not as part of an artistic lineage that contains elements of things before and will help to inspire things to come.

And before anyone says “mobile games whatever” consider that humans are very bad at deciding what is important in the moment. The BBC used to routinely destroy master tapes. We have lost hundreds of silent films. When this Apple Arcade thing eventually gets sunsetted, all those games will just... disappear, as those they never existed. That’s... bad.
posted by Automocar at 7:57 PM on September 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


Oh and of course I own that cup of coffee I bought. I could take it home and keep it on a shelf for 10 years if I wanted to.
posted by Automocar at 8:00 PM on September 21, 2019


When this Apple Arcade thing eventually gets sunsetted, all those games will just... disappear, as those they never existed. That’s... bad.

That was true before Apple Arcade too, though. Games have disappeared from Steam, the App Store, and other app stores, never to be seen again. It’s not great but it’s inherent in digital media distribution.
posted by rodlymight at 8:15 PM on September 21, 2019 [7 favorites]


That would be wonderful, but the market refuses.

There is an understanding, in the game industry in 2019, that if you just sell people a game, the economics simply don't work out.

Nintendo and Blizzard are the only two companies that have been able to successfully keep games more than a couple years old consistently on the shelves, and only Nintendo has been able to keep it there at more or less full price. The typical experience is that you have a couple of weeks to recoup your investment, and then if you didn't sell well enough to be a fixture on the best-seller lists, everyone loses their jobs. This used to be a problem when games were sold at retail, and then digital distribution, and streaming, happened, and we have a brief few years where (on PC and consoles) you could release a game, and if it was good, you'd get word of mouth, you'd get long-tail sales, you could survive just selling a game without any bullshit. Those days have gone - there's way more games, and way more good games, and a lot of deserving games get buried in the shuffle. (This never happened on mobile - word of mouth only worked for a handful of games, and people actively preferred worse games that were free over better, paid games.)

So what developers are doing now is looking for ways to guarantee revenue streams. Microtransactions and compulsion mechanics have been popular for a while, because typically it's the players already enjoying, or 'enjoying', your game, who are funding it. Taking Epic's money to sell exclusively on their store is another recently popular one, at least for developers (players hate it, but the alternative is to get buried under the garbage on Steam). Subscription services look like another model - I'd imagine Apple's pitch to developers is a big chunk of annual money, and they re-up on the games that metrics say people liked. The App Store is somehow much, much worse for discoverability than Steam, and for these developers, being able to sidestep that and the value proposition would be creatively freeing.
posted by Merus at 8:59 PM on September 21, 2019 [12 favorites]


The way to make 'sell a videogame' a profitable exercise again is for people to happily spend a lot more money on games than they currently do. This is probably unlikely.
posted by Merus at 9:03 PM on September 21, 2019 [8 favorites]


I’ve downloaded a few games on Arcade. So far none of the games has really made me all that excited? They all seem kinda clunky but I’ll keep playing around though and see if my interest grows.

my breath of the wild player pretty much was the best video game system I’ve played since my original Zelda the Mario player back in the 1980’s, so I’m trying not to set my expectation high on on iPhone games...
posted by nikaspark at 9:51 PM on September 21, 2019


Not Apple per se but a certain business model they represent. Delete if you must.

the business model of... making a product that people like and then selling it to them? as opposed to harvesting your data to sell to advertisers the way every other large tech company does, including the one that makes the operating system apple's phones primarily compete against?
posted by JimBennett at 10:45 PM on September 21, 2019 [9 favorites]


The way to make 'sell a videogame' a profitable exercise again is for people to happily spend a lot more money on games than they currently do. This is probably unlikely.

Most of the games I have enjoyed in the last decade (on PC) have come from smaller indie dev houses, or are one person labours of love. People who make good games can eke out a living in this manner.

Games that are made by studios, with mega budgets and high res graphics and a pyramid of expensive suits managing the exploitation of the workforce... meh, those games are not generally to my taste and good, because the ethics suck too.

If games is an "industry" that needs to see growth and profit projections and blah blah blah then maybe that is part of the problem? I don't know, I guess I am talking out of my ass. Maybe when FLAGSC comes we can let it become art again and forget all the business aspects.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:49 PM on September 21, 2019


[One deleted. Let's keep this an exchange of thoughts among all participants rather than one person reacting to everyone every time (and everyone reacting to them). It's not the purpose of the entire thread to convince a single individual, and one, two, even three times of "don't like it"; "nope still don't like it" is enough to establish your personal reaction; constant repetition isn't needed. Thanks. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:58 AM on September 22, 2019 [10 favorites]


I don't really play mobile games, and hate subscription models, and this still sounds like a good thing that I might be interested in. I'm usually very adamant about "owning" my software, but mobile games? Not so much.
posted by bongo_x at 2:28 AM on September 22, 2019


Speaking for myself, Apple Arcade is unbelievably good value. Here are the games I've played or intend to play, and their prices on other platforms (including my estimates based on closest comparables):
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts ($13 on Switch)
  • Mini Motorways (~$7 on Steam)
  • Over the Alps (est. ~$5)
  • What the Golf (~$16 on Epic)
  • Dear Reader ($10 via Kickstarter)
  • Jenny LeClue: Detectivu ($20 on Steam)
  • Overland ($25 on Steam)
  • Mutazione ($20 on Steam)
  • The Murder Mystery Machine (est. $15 on Steam)
  • Neo Cab (est. $15 on Steam)
That's $150 of games for $5/month, and literally none of these are fillers. I haven't even included games like Where Cards Fall and Assemble with Care whose prices I can't estimate. And those are just the games that I intend to play - there'll be plenty more for others, with dozens added every month. I can't think of any other games subscription service, perhaps barring Xbox Game Pass, that has better value.

The real question is what impact this will have on the indie games industry as a whole, and I'm much more concerned there. I suspect that for those devs who make it into Arcade, it will continue to be good value – I know a number of those devs and they've had very good offers.

The problem is that it establishes Apple as effectively the only publisher of "premium" iOS games without IAPs (and iOS, as a platform, continues to make more money from app income than Android). That's super weird and it requires Apple to be a good actor since they have no competition on their own platform; there's no way for any other publisher to aggregate games into a comparable bundle, not without paying Apple 15-30% for the privilege, and certainly not with the same amount of promotion on the device.

And fundamentally I just hate that. It's a monopoly position and as much as I like the games in Arcade, it is not good for the industry in the long-term for Apple to have this kind of dominance. Perhaps Google will keep them honest, but that just hasn't happened in other areas.

Usually at this point, someone says "OK but aren't consoles also locked down?" Not to the extent that iOS is, no – both EA and Ubisoft are offering subscription bundles on the PS4 and XBox. I am sure they wouldn't be able to do that on iOS.
posted by adrianhon at 3:59 AM on September 22, 2019 [21 favorites]


Also, there isn't a single developer or publisher of premium iOS games that isn't now seriously considering pitching to Apple Arcade. Just think about that. They have nowhere else to go.

Incidentally, I think Arcade is solving a problem that Apple itself created, at least in part, which is the whole issue of discoverability of iOS games. That's down to the design of the iOS App Store and the continued reduction in referral fees for editorial sites like TouchArcade.
posted by adrianhon at 4:04 AM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


In the time that y’all been overthinking this you could have been playing Sneaky Sasquatch or Cricket Through the Ages.

I’ve been looking for an easy way to get some light gaming into my phone without nagware / ads / micro transactions. I’m loving that the few I’ve tried just load and put you straight into the game- it feels so different from other gaming experiences - there is hardly even title screens or menus on the few I’ve tried. They’re just - well - games - they load and you play them...it actually feels like a different experience.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 5:33 AM on September 22, 2019 [5 favorites]


Applications stop working the moment the developer pulls them

Only if they depend on back-end services which are taken down. Otherwise, the app on your phone will keep working until an OS upgrade breaks it at some future date.

Case in point: the Mastodon client Tootdon. Released for free as an ad-supported service in Japan, and for free without ads elsewhere. The ad-supported service was shut down, and now the app informs us on startup that it has ceased operating. Except that, since it's a self-contained client-side app, clicking to dismiss the dialog causes it to keep working.
posted by acb at 5:42 AM on September 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


We have lost hundreds of silent films. When this Apple Arcade thing eventually gets sunsetted, all those games will just... disappear, as those they never existed. That’s... bad.

Is it, though? The idea that all information needs to be preserved forever is a very modern conceit. And I'm not sure if the weight of historical detritus doesn't at some point become a hindrance to creativity. The whole reason we're stuck with remakes and sequels overwhelming the box office, music and gaming industry, is because the past is too well-preserved to, well, pass.
posted by xigxag at 7:05 AM on September 22, 2019 [7 favorites]


is because the past is too well-preserved to, well, pass.

That’s more of a function of the ridiculously long protection times in copyright law in the US though? I thought the cause was that we are losing the ability for independent artists to reuse and extend stories from a public domain that is now about the size of a quarter.
posted by nikaspark at 7:31 AM on September 22, 2019 [4 favorites]


The failure to preserve silent films is due primarily to the studios not giving a shit, secondarily due to copyright preventing anyone else except the studios from making copies and distributing them, thereby ensuring their preservation. It had nothing to do with subscription services. Those films were in landfills or burned long before Netflix entered the scene.

I believe we have a need, perhaps even an obligation, to do a better job preserving cultural artifacts for future generations. But that's orthogonal to the rent-vs-buy debate and much more a function of copyright law, legislative DRM enforcement (i.e. the DMCA and similar laws), and a lack of incentives for copyright creators to ensure their works enter archives (lack of a depository requirement).

We could have excellent digital archives and still have game subscription services; we could also have physical media distribution and still end up with everything falling down the memory hole due to online activation, DRM, client/server architectures, and hardware dependencies that make titles unplayable down the road.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:47 AM on September 22, 2019 [6 favorites]


Maybe when FLAGSC comes we can let it become art again and forget all the business aspects.

This raises a really interesting open question in games studies: what do games even look like outside of capitalism? Video games, like television, are a primarily capitalist artform, shaped more by the business model than anything else. It's much more obvious in video games because the artform of television established constraints that are really only noticeable with technological change, while the constraints of the business model are frequently straight-up presented to the player in games. Games present a world where some of these interactions are baked in and presented as natural.

So what do video games even look like without those core assumptions? The acquisition and spending of resources for a set price is a basic mechanic in games across a wide variety of genres. What do video games from a society where haggling is a basic expectation look like? What do video games look like where there's no currency, and acquisition is communal instead of something an individual player does? If historical societies somehow invented computers, and thus video games, what would their games look like? We've only got a handful of examples of communist video games, but is Tetris a lucky fluke or are there lots of other incredible games that we can't see because our core societal assumptions preclude us from seeing them?
posted by Merus at 9:51 PM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


So far I'm happy. Obviously the digital distribution and DRM means it won't be showing up on a RetroPi any time soon, but in terms of value for money, it's presently a good deal. What excites me most in this space is the pooling of money towards building mobile games with:

1. Controller support
2. No Ads / phone snooping
3. No pay to win

GameClub has their work cut out for them! And Google I guess. Humble bundle kinda does this but reeks of 'random crap every month' and isn't mobile oriented. Competition in this space would probably lead to more of the revenue going to developers as well, so fingers crossed!
posted by pwnguin at 9:54 PM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


We've only got a handful of examples of communist video games, but is Tetris a lucky fluke or are there lots of other incredible games that we can't see because our core societal assumptions preclude us from seeing them?

I may be misunderstanding the claim you're making, but this seems like it's supposing that e.g. Tetris is uniquely non-capitalist, when there are a whole great pile of puzzle games out there from a variety of designers in a variety of circumstances over the decades that are equally detached from any kind of capitalist/acquisitional mechanics. More generally there have been a lot of video games across a wide spectrum of genres where individual acquisition is present as a core mechanic in only the most abstract sense if at all.

Like, I agree that it'd be very interesting to see what the prevailing design philosophy and mechanics would be like in a counterfactual game design context, but I can't agree with a suggestion that capitalist philosophies and mechanics are fundamental to video game design in general. Prevalent in major studio stuff and common in a lot of ways more broadly, sure, but there's shedloads of games that are narrative or puzzle or twitch or exploration or character based where such stuff seems to be at most incidental, or satirical/critical, if not outright absent.
posted by cortex at 10:03 PM on September 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


The nice thing is that unlike Apple's program, once installed the apps have stayed registered in the account for later download to new machines.

The App Store and iTunes both work that way.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:55 PM on September 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


I may be misunderstanding the claim you're making, but this seems like it's supposing that e.g. Tetris is uniquely non-capitalist, when there are a whole great pile of puzzle games out there from a variety of designers in a variety of circumstances over the decades that are equally detached from any kind of capitalist/acquisitional mechanics.

I think it's notable that Tetris, one of the most successful* puzzle games of all time, also emerged from an environment that was unique in a lot of ways. It's interesting to me to ask how much a unique perspective like that matters when looking at the design space of games, how game designers solve design problems, and what kinds of interactions players see as intuitive.

I can't agree with a suggestion that capitalist philosophies and mechanics are fundamental to video game design in general

I think that's kind of reductionist; video games aren't inherently capitalist, but our understanding of them has been shaped by them existing, for most of their existence, in a capitalist marketplace - so even works that are responding to other games, or the genre, are shaped by the choices the medium has made before. No boxed game really needs a life system, but the arcade games that influenced their design used it as a way to entice players to put more money in.

There are exceptions, generally from designers who come to games as an extension of their art, but often their work is policed away from being a 'video game' e.g. the work of Tale of Tales, serious games, protest games like Escape from Woomera. So while examples exist, we don't really know what video games would look like from a culture where that one big assumption doesn't exist. We've only seen glimpses.

*there is an argument that Tetris, despite its origins, is only the icon it is through ruthless capitalist exploitation. I'm sympathetic to that argument - it's had a lot of marketing over the years - but it's also extremely good.
posted by Merus at 11:56 PM on September 22, 2019


Come to think of it, I have encountered at least a couple thinkpieces (possibly based on stuff Apple representatives have said themselves?) about how Apple Arcade is poised to allow for funding and production of games that wouldn’t be conventionally “feasible” from the perspective of something that would have to be able to sell copies paid up front. Apple has more money than god, and if they want to cover the production of some quirky art games, they have roughly a zero percent chance of feeling much pain from the risk they’d be taking.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:06 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


you already own nothing about your iDevice, in any meaningful historical sense, except the data if you can export it off to the cloud or otherwise

Aside from the gaming service, this is an interesting point. When Apple's online store is actively courting iPhone users to trade in to get the latest model, these devices become less something one buys and owns, than something one maintains with a yearly or bi-yearly, optional fee.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:34 AM on September 23, 2019


Counterpoint: I’m still using a 6S+ with the latest OS and it still runs great. I replaced the battery last year and am looking forward to at least two more years with it. At which point it will be six years old.

Back on topic, we have PS Plus, Netflix and Apple Music subscriptions and buy games digitally. We got rid of all our CDs and DVDs and most of our books (donated to a nonprofit for resale). I don’t miss owning media. The variety of things available on demand, especially streaming music, is tremendous.

The only thing stopping me from Jumping on the Arcade service is that I already have enough games to play right now. I should show the offerings to my partner though, they’re still playing Threes.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:48 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's hard for me to get worked up about games no longer working at some unspecified point in the future. I get upset about music, but not games. I think it's because I've paid a small fortune for games in years past, and yet can't sit down and play 7 Cities of Gold on my C-64 now anyway. Or Archon, boy that was fun.

In my experience, games are ephemeral by nature, in a way that music and books aren't. I still have a treasured book I bought when I was 14. I still have the first CD I bought in... 1987? All of the games I bought around then are long-gone. I can't even remember... was it called Raid on Bungeleing Bay? Even the memories fade.

Those Humble Bundle collections and Steam helped make a lot of games seem cheap and transitory as well, unfortunately.

I'm sure I'll pay the $60/year and count it much cheaper than most of the years past in which I've spent much, much more to play games I liked.
posted by pwinn at 8:05 AM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think that's kind of reductionist; video games aren't inherently capitalist, but our understanding of them has been shaped by them existing, for most of their existence, in a capitalist marketplace

For sure, but so too all sorts of other media, and that hasn't resulted in all examples of those media being mired in capitalist structure or themes or assumptions either. I'm glad my characterization turns out to be reductionist, but without the reduction we're maybe disagreeing around the edges of a shared position that capitalism has a strong but not unavoidable influence on game design under capitalism? Tetris is a good game but, yeah, it was the subject of massive commercial exploitation in the 80s and made Nintendo in particular a tremendous amount of money as a Gameboy launch title. And people living under capitalism have produced (particularly, independent) work that's not just explicitly anti-capitalist but in many cases a-capitalist, operating mechanically and thematically in territory that doesn't in fact seem to think capitalist narratives and structures are necessary or given at all.

You could make the argument in turn that nothing created under capitalism is truly free from capitalism as a context, that even declining to engage with capitalism from within capitalism is still designing within capitalism, but that's very different and much softer thing than imagining that people would be creating fundamentally different games only if doing so in a different context. Much of game design like much of speculative fiction is already about finding different ways to think about problems and solutions, and imagining different kinds of worlds to house those problems and solutions in.

More than just that though, I'm skeptical and a little uncomfortable at what feels like a kind of just-so-story exoticization of Tetris' design as a stand-in for Soviet culture; it's such a simple (but clever and inspired) construction mechanically as a puzzle game that it feels like loading a great deal on to it to say that it is the way it is because it came from a given culture rather than because its designer made a puzzle game with simple solid mechanics while living in that culture. That it's a solid puzzle game which became (for a bit there at least) property of the state who in turn licensed it to corporations instead of a solid puzzle game that became the immediate property of a corporation does say something about Pajitnov's cultural context, but it doesn't tell us much about the design of the game, and its straightforward simplicity as a puzzle game without any overriding narrative or character theming makes reaching for a connection there feel like a big stretch.
posted by cortex at 8:12 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


But yeah, if you’re looking for someone to blame for the exploitative model and race to the bottom for pricing, blame Angry Birds, Candy Crush,

I blame Facebook, but it's really the F2P/freemium model that has made mobile gaming suck so bad.

I've played a few games on Apple but not in 30 years--Wolfenstein, Myst, Might & Magic, lol--and I don't have any Apple devices, but I'd certainly this try for my kids if I did. Its competitors (excepting Minecraft) are pure crap. (If you go back to the Apple II, I did get all the way through Ultima IV ... FINALLY!)

Mobile gaming is fucked. People won't pay for games and so we get these fucking terrible exploitative skinner box 'free to play' games and hardly anything else. This subscription thing isn't ideal but if gets developers interested in making games for iOS that aren't evil cash miners I'm all for it.

Mostly ditto.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:11 AM on September 23, 2019


It's a computer that's not a computer and it's so sad.

Also this. I think about this a lot.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:12 AM on September 23, 2019


So I started the free one-month trial.

So far: Dear Reader is delightful. Card of Darkness (a collaboration between SpellTower creator Zach Gage and Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward) is both cute and fun. Looking forward to trying out Mini Motorway, Overland, Skate City, and Whatthegolf later.

(Many years ago, I also subscribed to the Sega Channel. That was where I learned about Gunstar Heroes.)
posted by box at 11:07 AM on September 23, 2019


I've recently moved to a new city where I spend a bunch of time on the metro (with no cell reception), so Apple Arcade has turned out to be perfect. I was spending at least $5/month on random indie puzzle games anyway. The only thing I don't like about it is that there aren't very many interesting puzzle or word games, though I'm sure they're planning on adding to the library.

Card of Darkness is quirky and fun, although the difficulty really ramps up and it gets pretty frustrating after a while. The only other game I've tried is Cricket Through the Ages, which is a hilarious 2-player experience (albeit that one you'll get bored of pretty quickly). I'm still happy with Arcade so far, especially since I can always cancel it before the one-month trial ends.
posted by oulipian at 11:16 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


What the Golf is very funny. I've also heard very good things about Mutazione, though I haven't had a chance to see anything but the intro yet.
posted by rifflesby at 11:22 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Google just launched their thing for Android, although unlike Apple's version I don't think there are any exclusives?

The promo pages make the same pitch about being free of IAPs that Apple's service does, but I don't know how that works with some of the games on the list that definitely do have IAPs. Like if I download Polytopia, do I get all the purchasable civs for as long as I'm subscribed? Presumably, but the FAQ doesn't say anything about the mechanics.

They do have a lot of good games included in the subscription, at least.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:59 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm signing up as fast as i can. Are you kidding me? Sharing with the entire family and i can stop working constantly to keep the kids out of the casino hellscape of the app store kid games?! Hell yes.

Yeah, I smacked the button right away for that reason and am half-heartedly looking around for device to replace the ipad mini 2 that my 6 year old gets to use sometimes, as it won't take ios 13. Apple isn't blameless for the way the freemium game market developed, though I've had far too many people seem aghast that I'd suggest they buy a $4 app to lay the majority blame at their doorstep.

But even with things locked down to prevent my kid accidentally (or ill-informed-ally) spending money on tokens or whatever, freemium is a massive fucking hassle as a parent. Never mind what atrocious and possibly offensive ads kids will be exposed to (from both a moral and a omfg that game is awful how dare they pollute the world stance), the deliberate dark pattern crap crufts up the screen something awful and results in a lot of my time wasted. We ration screen time, but when we deploy it I need to be able to get other things done. Unfucking the screen from whatever rabbit hole my kid has been drawn down interferes with that.

$5 a month? I'd pay $15 happily even if the games in it were just variants of some of the basic games my kid likes with the adware & token sale crap carved out. About half these freemium games lack ANY way to just opt out of that crap and about half of the ones that let you buy out of ads still put purchase junk up on screen.
posted by phearlez at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


I don't hate the idea but I do wonder how good a deal it will actually be for developers in the long run-- certainly musicians have mixed feelings about streaming services, to understate the issue

The entire media industry has been moving to subscription-based content services for years now, as that’s their best, most sustainable solution to digital and internet technologies so far. Many of us alive today lived through the end of the short bubble in human culture when time-based creative works became own-able things (records, cassettes, videotapes, CDs, DVDs), and of course video/digital gaming was created during the end of that bubble, but as soon as someone could buy a single copy of one of those things, and then convert it to information and duplicate it endlessly and without cost, that entire mode of business was over (which would specifically be, what, 1999 with Napster?).

It’s taken about 20 years, but what’s been nascent is finally being made normal: subscription-based streaming content for all creative media. That way, no individuals own discrete copies (well, mostly), and businesses build libraries of content that allow them to do, in my estimation, two very important things: sidestep the issue of piracy/unlicensed duplication & sharing; and move away from a brutally market-based, per-product business model. Ironically, this is both liberating and crushing for those creating the works that are the content—while subscription-based revenue is more consistent and easier to manage, the percentage of revenue going to artists—especially in music—is very inadequate for all but the most successful.

Whether it’s good or bad depends on a whole lot of variables, and as someone married to a person who creates things for part of their livelihood, and who teaches young adults who hope to make careers making things, I’m far from disinterested in how it all plays out; but so far, the most developed models are for video content, and I think the real creative explosion we’ve experienced in the past decade or so has been made possible to a great degree by the ability of large corporations to fund creatively new or unorthodox or whatever kinds of content, that may find a small but enthusiastic audience, without having to answer to shareholders for every single project or creative decision. There are still some real problems w/r/t compensation to work out, but so far this model seems to have been a net good for creative diversity.

For me, at least, Apple’s Arcade looks super interesting and I’ll be trying it out. (I also hope that it will cut my digital shopping/browsing time waaaay down—sometimes I waste more time looking for a good, not-utterly-monetized game than I do actually playing one once I find it.)
posted by LooseFilter at 12:23 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


$5 a month? I'd pay $15 happily

🤫
posted by fairmettle at 12:16 AM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


From my POV, you don't own anything on your iPhone already.
LOLWUT.
Applications stop working the moment the developer pulls them
This is not true.
It's a computer that's not a computer and it's so sad.
That iOS devices do not satisfy your particular archeology-heavy vision of The One Truth Path of Computing does not make them "not computers."

Maybe iOS isn't for you. That's fine. But holy hell is it annoying to have every post on the Blue about something Apple-related have to re-litigate whether or not the choices of iOS are legitimate.

Spoiler: They're legitimate.
I have an original iPad. The LCII in my closet is more functional at this point.
ASTOUNDINGLY unlikely.
posted by uberchet at 1:40 PM on September 26, 2019 [3 favorites]


I'll reset the "Days Since A Ludicrously Disproportionate Apple Fan Rant" sign, then.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:38 AM on September 27, 2019


I have an original iPad. The LCII in my closet is more functional at this point.

ASTOUNDINGLY unlikely.


Hi, I am the person who owns these two things, and said the above so...unless you're saying I'm bullshitting, I guess you should be pretty astounded right now.

Let me emphasize, I said functional, not useful.

Admittedly, this is down to definitions — but the LCII will power up, and run whatever's still installed on it. If I wanted to dig up the adapter, it could be on my wired LAN. You could still use it for whatever home office and school work productivity type stuff it was bought for. I wouldn't trust the floppy drive, but the rest of it seems mostly "functional" in terms of doing as much as it always did.

Whereas, the original iPad is supposed to do a lot more, so the fact that it will turn on and still run some games or sync email isn't all that functional.

That iPad can barely hold a charge, by the time I retired it the hardware was having trouble keeping up with OS updates (remember, it doesn't have a ton of RAM), most of the apps on it are broken including those used for off-device file management which is pretty essential (because Dropbox and etc need updates to a version iOS it can't run) and how much longer will computers have USB-A ports to let it talk to iTunes over the old cable? For that matter, how much longer will iTunes support the original iPad?

But yes, those games and apps that will still run on the iPad are obviously way beyond anything the LCII could have run in terms of raw power, and the version of Safari on the iPad can still kind of browse the current web, thought with a lot of broken stuff and slow loading, where the LCII is stuck on some ancient version of Netscape (if memory serves).
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:22 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Along similar lines, my Dual record player, Marantz tape deck and Sony Walkman and Discman all remain more functional—and useful—than my original iPod (which is entirely dead, with a failed battery and crashed micro HDD). That doesn't mean I regret buying the iPod, or that it wasn't amazing while it lasted.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:35 AM on September 27, 2019


so the fact that it will turn on and still run some games or sync email isn't all that functional.
Given that this is literally the entire duty cycle of a nontrivial number of iPads, yeah, it's kind of hilarious that you describe this as "less functional" than a computer that would be difficult to get on the Internet, and that lacks the power to render modern web pages at all.
posted by uberchet at 9:27 AM on September 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


I would really like it if we had the same courtesy going in tech threads that we do in music, movies, culture threads, etc and to wit: it's okay to not like things, and if you don't like what the thing that people are talking about, it's okay (read: actually awesome) to sit out the thread.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:31 AM on September 27, 2019 [4 favorites]


that lacks the power to render modern web pages at all.

I don't have an LCII, but I have the comparable SE/30. Memory is a limiting factor, but there's ways around that, and it's quite capable of browsing the web up through the era where people decided progressive enhancement was too much trouble.

Which I suppose may require acknowledging that the word "modern" is doing some heavy lifting in your statement, but to the extent that's worth respecting, it's in a descriptive manner rather than a normative one (as is often the case). Fortunately, it's not yet truly rare to find developers who understand both the accessibility AND engineering benefits of starting with the web's foundational approach.

Now, browser-as-runtime is not something early 90s machinery is good at. But it turns out these machines have their own runtimes and are often curiously snappy compared to a lot of "modern" web applications. And since I've experienced using aging iOS devices who, no longer on the update cycle, now break on browser-as-runtime webapps that expect recent browser features, it's quite plausible to me that early 90s machinery that's off the upgrade treadmill retains functional if limited capacity longer than iOS devices half the age will retain their ability to do browser-as-runtime.

Whether that turns out to be the case, though, there's a real underlying point that software+hardware tech products seem to be more ephemeral in their utility than hardware and the trend seems to be accelerating. I don't know if because that's where the market incentives are or that's How Progress Works™.
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:51 PM on September 27, 2019


Wow, you're going a long, long way there, and the direction you're moving isn't remotely convincing.
I don't have an LCII, but I have the comparable SE/30. Memory is a limiting factor, but there's ways around that, and it's quite capable of browsing the web up through the era where people decided progressive enhancement was too much trouble.
"It works fine if you don't care most things don't work" is not a convincing argument, man.

The argument made was that an old iPad was less functional than a 26-year-old LCII. That is absolutely not true. As I said, it still does what a lot of iPads spend their whole lives doing: syncing mail and reading the Internet, with a side order of whatever local games it still has. Not bad for a computer that's nearly a decade old.

Are there issues you could pursue about the iOS model? Sure. It'll be harder to go your own way with that hardware after Apple stops supporting it -- but it was ever thus, and let's not omit the fact that in adjusted dollars the iPad is CRAZY cheap vs. the LCII's price.

We live in an era where computing is ubiquitous. We have traded eternal upgradability to get here, and pushed some aspects of computing that were traditionally local into the Internet as part of the bargain.

This is fine. This is great, even. An iPad is a fantastic device because it Just Works for so many people. My 79 year old mother barely touches her computer anymore because the iPad is so useful and capable. Grousing about the tradeoffs on this platform when traditional computers still exist for you to use, and claiming it's a "sad little not-a-computer" or whatever, is seriously blinkered nerd privilege.
posted by uberchet at 2:14 PM on September 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


“A computer that isn’t a computer” is the new version of “I don’t trust any car whose engine I can’t repair myself”
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:41 PM on September 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Even if that LCII had a browser that could speak modern TLS (and assuming you could even boot the old hard drive in the first place), its CA cert bundle would be out of date. Expired or missing certs = no HTTPS. No HTTPS = no access to much of the modern web without a proxy.

And, pre-OSX macOS has a Y2020 problem...
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:23 AM on September 28, 2019


Shot.

Admittedly, this is down to definitions — but the LCII will power up, and run whatever's still installed on it. If I wanted to dig up the adapter, it could be on my wired LAN. You could still use it for whatever home office and school work productivity type stuff it was bought for. I wouldn't trust the floppy drive, but the rest of it seems mostly "functional" in terms of doing as much as it always did.

Chaser.

most of the apps on it are broken including those used for off-device file management which is pretty essential (because Dropbox and etc need updates to a version iOS it can't run) and how much longer will computers have USB-A ports to let it talk to iTunes over the old cable?
posted by phearlez at 9:29 AM on October 1, 2019


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