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3 months with Apple Arcade, a free trial comes to an end

by: Rob -
More On: ATONE WHAT THE GOLF? Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows GrindStone

I'm not even sure how I got the trial of Apple Arcade to begin with. A new device probably? I think a Christmas purchase I made from Best Buy; but lucky for me whatever it was, it came with 3 free months free. It's a service I had been interested in since October when a new Game of Thrones game dropped exclusive to the service that was intriguing. Today my watch has ended and the free trial is up. Well, what did I think?

First of all, I was happily impressed with the breadth of games available. Not many are going to be household names because households that I know don't sit around and chat about mobile games, but a google search or two will start building a healthy library of games to try out. It alls tarted out great and on the right foot, I had an entire folder on my iPad dedicated to the games I would try and over the Christmas holidays jumped right into that.

First up: Grindstone. Now Grindstone is brilliant, its a little candy-crush like puzzle game (I think it is anyway, I never actually played Candy Crush). The point of it all is to chain combos os hacking and slashing through a grid of enemies, obstacles and bosses to get a high score. It's all very fun and was a mainstay for my past three months. I played more Grindstone that anything else on my mobile phone during my trial period. I probably played it more than everything else combined even.

I also really got in to WHAT THE GOLF? over the holidays as well. It's a golf game for people who don't care about golf, because it has very little to do with golf. Yes you swing things at other things, but only rarely is it a club at a ball. It's just as likely to be a chair at a refrigerator. It's wacky, has a great sense of humor, and is very fun. It did not, however, captivate me an hold me hostage for long. About a week into it, I was ready to move on. 

And then a funny thing happened, I did move on. But not just from WHAT THE GOLF?, but from Apple Arcade entirely for the most part. Christmas holidays were over, I was back to work, back to my routine, and more importantly back to my PS5 and my PC. While holed up at the in-laws the service was great value, but once my day-to-day kicked back in, it just hit the back burner. 

Most of the rest of my Apple Arcade folder of games to try is a graveyard. I never even played Overland, Atone, Cadpocalypse, Sayonara, or Mini Motorways. I didn't even get around to GoT: Tale of Crows, which was the Game of Thrones game that interested me in the service in the first place. I did try Lumen on my MacBook, and it was neat to see the game transfer seamlessly over to the large screen, but it was still just a mobile game on a larger interface, nothing groundbreaking. I also tried South of the Circle, which held my interest for all of about 2 minutes until the ridiculously bad and unintuitive control scheme in the very opening act just frustrated me right out of ever opening the app again.

And that became the crux of Apple Arcade, at least for me. Most times, when I had time to play, I was reaching for something other than my iPad or mobile phone. When I made the time, it was fleeting, and some games seemed too involved to pick up in those limited moments. Others didn't make a strong enough first impression, and when we're dealing with a subscription service I have no reason to give it a second chance when I can more easily just move on to something else. I am not invested in any one game on the service like I am with a game I actually plunked down a few bucks to actually own a copy. 

What I realized is, in my mobile gaming life, I only really need three games:

  • one for the toilet - which Grindstone undoubtably was but I can just as easily move back to Threes or 1010
  • one for when I have a few minutes on my iPad and I'm all caught up on the news - The Elder Scrolls: Legends still holds that place and never relinquished it despite all the Apple Arcade offerings vying for that attention
  • and one chess game - I don't actually play chess but I've been telling myself for years I am going to learn and I can't maintain that lie without a game sitting on my phone collecting dust

Apple Arcade is not a bad thing. It's a pretty good service if you are into mobile gaming. There is a great palette of games to try and many you will not find anywhere else. But for me, I'm just not a mobile gamer. And to ask me for $5 every month is not a value as I already have too many subscriptions in my life and I could just as easily get the same level of interaction for free, or at most $1 or $3 a month with change left over even if I treated myself to a new game every month. But that's just me.

If Apple Arcade is for you, the details are here: https://www.apple.com/apple-arcade/