Apple Arcade is being criticized by developers for lack of transparency around payments, falling payouts, and cancelled projects.

There is, though, hope that Netflix’s move into gaming may lead Apple to showing its own subscription games service more love …

About Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade first launched back in 2019, offering access to a wide range of otherwise-paid games for a single fixed monthly subscription. The service first launched with close to 100 titles, a number which has since doubled.

There have recently been suggestions that Apple may be planning to turn Arcade into a full-on streaming game service, rather than a subscription which gives access to games which must still be downloaded in the usual way.

Apple Arcade criticized by developers

MobileGamer reports that developers are growing increasingly unhappy about the service, citing several reasons.

One is a lack of transparency around how developers are paid when their games are selected for inclusion in Apple Arcade.

“They have this opaque metric that they call a qualifying session, and bonus pool payments are made based on that,” said one source. “But no-one knows what a qualifying session actually is – it has something to do with if the game was launched, how long the player played for and how often they return. But it’s a black box, really.”

Another is that payouts have been steadily declining since the service was launched.

Payouts for titles on Apple Arcade have been falling for years, our sources said […] Several developers we spoke to noted that payments from Apple Arcade’s per-play ‘bonus pool’ started to decline around October 2020, and have continued to do so since […]

“We’re going to see that amount and decrease and decrease and decrease until it’s pennies,” said one developer […]

The upfront fees Apple was paying for new Arcade titles have also been cut, we’re told.

Others say that Apple has been cancelling planned projects, for reasons which are unclear, and which the company was not willing to explain.

One studio boss told us that after months of glowing feedback on one particular game, the Arcade team suddenly withdrew its interest in the title, citing a change in strategy. When the developer asked for feedback and offered to reduce the budget and re-tool the game to better fit Apple’s needs, the Arcade team simply stopped responding to their emails.

But some are optimistic

Some developers pointed to a significant boost Apple made back in 2021, and hope that competition from Netflix will lead to improved terms by the iPhone maker.

“I really hope Netflix continues doing what they’re doing because it is requiring Apple to continue to try to be relevant and competitive,” one source said.

Netflix doesn’t pay any ongoing fees or bonuses, instead focusing on a single, upfront payment – but the sum involved is described as “generous.”

Photo: Apple

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