Apple has a rough track record where games are concerned, frequently snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when it attempts new gaming initiatives. But strong App Store games revenues have reportedly inspired the company to develop a gaming subscription service, a move that could enable it to compete against similar offerings from console- and set top box-making rivals.
The claimed games subscription service would function like Netflix, Cheddar reports, enabling users to pay one fee to get all-you-can-play monthly access to a collection of titles. Presumably, the game collection would work across iOS devices such as iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches, as macOS and tvOS game libraries are comparatively small and fragmented.
An Apple initiative would be far from the first effort to create a Netflix of games. In the console world, Sony offers a similar service called PlayStation Now with access to 700 games for $20 per month, while Microsoft’s newer Xbox Game Pass service has a rotating library of 100 games for $10 per month. Electronic Arts, HTC, and Nvidia all have similar options for PC gamers, while Amazon and Google are reportedly both working on solutions for streaming boxes.
Citing “five people familiar with the matter,” the Cheddar report suggests that the Apple service has been under discussion since the second half of 2018, but is still early in development, without pricing details. To facilitate the service, Apple could take on a publishing role for games, bearing marketing and related responsibilities — potentially with a different financial split than its current 30 percent cut of revenues. That role might also enable it to increase title availability for Apple TV devices running tvOS, or Macs running future versions of macOS with iPad app compatibility.
Though the report claims that taking a bigger piece of the growing mobile gaming industry could “move the needle for Apple,” much of the mobile sector’s growth has recently come from consumable and cosmetic in-app purchases within free-to-play games — and cross-platform ones such as Fortnite, at that. Despite making millions if not billions of dollars from iOS users, service developers such as Fortnite’s Epic Games and Netflix itself are already moving to reduce or eliminate Apple’s cut of in-app sales.