I have been gaming for about forty years now. I have witnessed the birth and rise of Apple’s iOS gaming ecosystem, and it’s fall into freemium hell. I applaud the attempt to fix that with Apple Arcade: a subscription service for games that aren’t constantly trying to convince you to cough up money for “coins” of every description. Just give your money to Apple instead! But seriously, I would be happy to do so if I get good games in return.
So it’s too bad about the bugs.
I fired up my free Apple Arcade trial on a 4th gen Apple TV — not on the bleeding edge, but not old either — and I tried out three games in a row. The two more graphically demanding games had poor frame rates and input latency. All three were crippled by bugs within less than an hour of play. The first two simply became unplayable, but the third brought the entire device to its knees. All were “featured” games with high app store ratings.
It wasn’t just the games themselves, either: just installing the games was glitchy, and I had to reboot the device to get one of them going. And the controller connection was glitchy. In my first and second sessions after pairing, my X-Box controller connected to the ATV when I turned it on, as one would hope. But not the third! I had to re-pair. And then again after the next reboot. And so on. (But what do you expect from Bluetooth? Fuck bluetooth.)
Bugs happen, but this is ridiculous. Three contrasting experiences:
- I have played about 300 hours of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on my Switch without really ever encountering a single bug, let alone anything that forced a game or device restart.
- I am also a fan of the Gears of War franchise, and while that game is full of irksome and questionable design choices, I have been playing GOW games for about a decade, and I have encountered play-stopping bugs … never.
- And for the most embarrassing comparison of all? The old action RPG Titan Quest was a fine PC game my wife and I played for a good couple hundred hours together. It was ported to the Switch last year, and we tried it again, despite warnings that it was super buggy. And it really was! It was almost comically glitchy compared to the original, and made a terrible impression. And yet there was nothing wrong that actually stopped play.
But three Apple Arcade games in a row became truly unplayable in less than hour, and weren’t all that great before that. So that’s the end of that gaming experiment for me. 🙄