I’ve loved covering Apple Arcade games since the beginning of 2020 when I first reviewed Lego Builder’s Journey. I’m quite proud of the reviews and editorials I’ve been doing this year, and I’m proud of the work Apple Arcade has been doing with their platform – but I think we both have room for improvement. I’ve already talked about how developers and Apple need to be working together more on hyping up their games to the press and the public, so now I would like to talk specifically about game library functionality.
I recently subscribed to Apple Arcade and have been loving playing through their huge library of indie games. There are a ton of great titles on their platform, but it can be a little frustrating to pitch it to friends. Their argument has been that they could only find a game or two on the library, and then unsubscribed out of boredom.
But here’s the thing – there are over a hundred games on there, almost all of them from established indie game creators with relatively solid reviews. Logically there are more than a couple enjoyable games to spend time with on Apple Arcade, so why aren’t people finding them? I believe this comes down to Apple not promoting their games enough.
To be fair to the tech giant, so many games on the App Store are either sponsored and promoted as advertisements for hugely profitable mobile games, or they have been indie games reliant on word of mouth to really take off. Apple Arcade of course, is in the middle – sure Apple is behind it all, but I feel like the indie developers have been put in charge of their own self-promotion. And honestly, not all indies do exceedingly well at marketing.
An example for my theory comes from my time writing about Dear Reader, one of my favorite games I’ve played through the service so far. The App Store entry for the game was well written and had screenshots and all that potential players need to decide if the game’s worth trying, but outside the App Store the game’s marketing was entirely on the developer’s website. I had to find images for my article on the developer’s presskit page that they had created using a popular website addon.
The fact the developers apparently had to find and create their own tools for marketing tells me that maybe Apple isn’t all that involved. And I just want to know, why the heck not?
I think there are a few things Apple needs to do to help its new Arcade platform flourish. The biggest thing is they need to look outside their own bubble to other successful platforms. We need something like Steam’s Discovery Queue, a tool that shows people games they probably haven’t played yet. Just as important is the need to show players what is coming to the platform.
As of writing this, a game or two is released a week on Apple Arcade, with no real schedule or promotion beforehand. The game LEGO Builder’s Journey released the week before Christmas, and almost no one I talked to had even noticed its existence. This is insanity; it’s a LEGO game, a franchise that myself and many others adore, being minimally marketed and only highlighted as a spot in the new releases section of the store. Apple one hundred percent needs to be telling us about what to expect, what to be excited for, and most importantly, why we should remain subscribed.
I really am admiring the effort Apple has made to support indie games with Apple Arcade. So please, Apple, don’t mess it up.