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Apple Arcade is about fun, not profit, says exec in charge

Apple Arcade

Apple executive Alex Rofman says Apple Arcade was not set up to make the company money, but also insists that game developers are getting an income.

Apple Arcade launched in 2019, and was then included in the Apple One bundle in 2020. Today, as it approaches its fifth anniversary, Apple Arcade is also the best place for Apple Vision Pro spatial games.

According to Apple Arcade senior director Alex Rofman, though, the service is not about promoting spatial games, or even about making Apple money.

"It was about games that were designed just to be fun and engaging, not built around a business model, not built around timers or video ads," he has told The Guardian newspaper. "We were not looking to replicate the top genres on mobile necessarily, we weren't looking to bring a match-three that was better than Candy Crush we focused on games that wouldn't have had an opportunity were it not for Arcade."

"We fund the development of new games so that developers can build them without risk," he continued. Speaking of "Sneaky Sasquatch" as one example, he says "it's very aligned with Apple's values: it's an incredibly deep, challenging game, but there's no violence. There's nothing offensive."

Rofman does say that there is an emphasis at Apple on family games, and it's part of how parents should be able to rely on the company.

"[Except with Apple], parents can't hand their iPad to their kid in a free to play game and feel comfortable that there's not going to be $100 in currency purchases or whatever," he said.

"So we do think that Arcade is an outlet for indie studios with creative, innovative ideas," he said. "That is still important to us and always will be."

Not all games developers agree, and some say that Apple simply doesn't care about games. In February 2024, developers said that initially Apple Arcade payments were generous at launch, but that Apple has since been reducing them, and also cancelling projects.

"[Developers] with games where the player base is growing can expect to see their bonus pool earnings grow as well," claims Rofman, "given that they're based on engagement."

"But as you can imagine, despite the incredibly high quality of our catalogue," he continued, "not every game in a catalogue of more than 200 titles is going to grow its player base month over month."