Kids and video games will always be a divisive topic among parents. Questions of play time, educational value, and appropriate content will always be asked when it comes to decided how much or what types of video games our kids should be playing. If that wasn’t enough to consider, add in the mobile gaming ecosystem and the issues and questions become even more pronounced.
Mobile games (iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.) are clearly becoming the more popular and preferred method of playing, especially amongst younger children. This isn’t hard to believe when you consider that the mobile gaming industry nearly doubled the sales of console gaming in 2018. That statistic is even more impressive when you consider that the majority of mobile games are either free or under $5, while console game usually sell anywhere from $20-$80.
Accessibility also factors into this equation as 96% of North Americans currently have a smart phone, and therefore have the access and the means to play these games anytime and anywhere. This also means that our kids have almost, if not the same amount of access to the mobile gaming world. Whether they have their own phone or iPad, or they are using one from the household, our kids are playing mobile games more than any other form of entertainment.
Here’s the problem – most mobile games are not good. Don’t get me wrong, there are quality games available in the App Store or Google Play store, but they are very few and far between. They are also the ones that cost money because the free ones are usually games created to goad you into spending money through in-game micro transactions.
So, how do we find games for our kids that are fun, challenging, affordable, and appropriate in a gaming world that has almost 1 million titles available? I think Apple may have answered that question for us. Just this week (September 19, 2019) Apple released its latest iOS update that included a huge change to their app store. That change is called Apple Arcade, and here is how it works.
The basic premise of Apple Arcade is that you pay $5.99 (CAD) per month in order to access a collection of games that are only available through the service. At launch, there are currently around 70 games available with more to be released in the upcoming months.
So, is this service is worth the money, especially if you have kids who are interested in mobile games? I believe so, and here’s why:
With over 3 million apps available in the app store, the reality is that the terrible ones far outnumber the quality ones. With this service, Apple has curated a collection of games that have been developed by solid and reputable gaming studios with a history of success. This process basically eliminates games that are buggy, incomplete, or just plain bad.
With a service that controls the available content, the one downfall is that there is less to choose from. While I actually believe that this is one of the strengths of this service as it helps limit the sheer amount available, I still feel that there is more than enough to choose from. Whether your child is into action games, platformers, or strategy/puzzle games, there is a number of titles available from a diverse range of categories.
No Micro-Transactions or Advertisements
This is probably the most refreshing part about Apple Arcade. Not one game offered on the service will ask you for more money or present you with any advertisements. You can rest assured that your child will never “accidentally” make an in-app purchase or be taken to another website due to clicking on an advertisement. The other benefit of no in-app purchases is that the game can be just that – a game. With no need to try an get more of your money, these games can focus on more traditional methods of gaming rather than on tricks that create addictive tendencies.
Content & Age Range
Another aspect of this service that I really like is the fact that each game clearly indicates the recommended age range. While most of the time game choices will be up to parental discretion, it’s really handy to be able to know that the game is appropriate in both content and skill level. This makes searching for a new game to play super simple, because I can filter titles that fit my kids’ ability and play style.
It’s always hard to get on board with a brand new subscription service, especially when there are so many other services that demand more and more of our time and money. However, I really think that Apple may have done a lot of people a favour by creating their Apple Arcade. Knowing that you have access to quality games that are both fun and challenging, all with no ads or extra transactions definitely can help make the $5.99 per month price tag justifiable. With a free month offered, I would definitely recommend trying it out to see if it is something that would work for your family.