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Apple Arcade: Ranked - Top 25 [Updated 7.26]

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 26th, 2021

In case you missed it, I am on a quest to rank every Apple Arcade game there is.

Over a year into the Apple Arcade experiment, I’m adjusting my approach to these rankings to make it a bit less cumbersome to update and read. For the most part, this means the number of updates on previously released games will decrease, and the text below each entry will be kept to a brief-yet-accurate justification for its positioning.

This has less to do with the pace of Apple Arcade releases and more to do with the fact that the general quality of games on the service simply isn’t what it should be. In the time that one release comes to the service, multiple high quality games hit the App Store that you don’t have to pay monthly upkeep for. Unless something drastic changes with the service, my opinion on it probably won’t change much. With the most recent update bringing older established titles to the service, Arcade is certainly the strongest it has ever been, but additional shakeups like this will need to keep happening to finally sell me on the service.

Anyway, on with the ranking updates:

Game ranking updates for 7/26:

A Year of Apple Arcade: The Good, The Bad, and The Future

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 22nd, 2020

Apple Arcade has persisted for just over a year at this point, and although that means I've been busy ranking and re-ranking every game on the service for just about as long, I haven't done much reflection on the service as a whole.

If you want the short version, I think Apple has done a decent job at providing a wide variety of titles on its service, and their near-weekly new releases and title updates give you a reason to dive back into the service on a regular basis. That said, the dedication to keeping Arcade feeling fresh alone doesn't quite justify the cost of subscribing, and it seems like Apple has to put in some more work if they want this service to flourish.

Apple Arcade is in trouble

Posted by Campbell Bird on July 1st, 2020

Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Apple is disappointed in the performance of Apple Arcade and will be shifting their approach to the service by focusing on games that can retain subscribers and canceling other upcoming releases that don't fit this new vision.

Honestly, the only surprising thing about this news in my mind is the timing. Apple Arcade hasn't even been live for a year, and half of its existence has been admist a global pandemic, mass unemployment, and burgeoning civil unrest. If Apple was confident about its approach to its new games service, I would've thought they'd give it a little more time and leeway before shifting their approach.

I have been enjoying Apple Arcade and have been a loyal subscriber since it launched back in September. I've even given each game on the service a fair shake. But there's no denying that the service hasn't lived up to its promises.

Apple Arcade: Ranked - 26-50 [Updated 7.26]

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 29th, 2020

This is part 2 of our Apple Arcade rankings. Quick navigation to other parts:

1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100 | 101-125 | 126-150 | 151+


26. Neo Cab

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Description:

Neo Cab is a narrative adventure game where you work nights as a cab driver in the cyberpunk metropolis that is Los Ojos. As you drive around, you pick up all sorts of interesting characters and chat with them. While you do this, you need to balance your car’s charge, your driver rating, and try to solve an overarching mystery.

Rank Explanation:

There’s a lot of things I really like about Neo Cab’s look and storytelling, but there’s also a lot of things that make it a pretty poor mobile experience. The game has a great vibe and sharp writing, but there are way too few checkpoints in the game and it’s just a tad too easy to miss dialogue.

The 5 Best Mobile Games Like Grindstone

Posted by Campbell Bird on March 31st, 2020
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Apple Arcade made a splash when it first launched, granting access to over 50 games as soon as it became available. Of those titles, the one that seemed to grab most people’s attention was Grindstone, a matching puzzle game from Capy Games.

In order to enjoy Grindstone though, you have to activate an Apple Arcade subscription, which—even now—doesn’t quite feel like a quality value proposition for most people. Luckily, there are some great games on the regular old App Store that share some DNA with Grindstone. I’d even go so far as to say over half the games on this list are better than Grindstone, though I know that’s probably not a statement most folks will agree with.

In any case, check out the picks below. Oh, and click here to check out all the other great lists we’ve been making recently.

Build Your Own Apple Arcade, For $400

Posted by Campbell Bird on February 27th, 2020

Apple Arcade has been out for a little over a month, and I’m not entirely thrilled with it. It’s definitely an interesting idea, but it leaves a lot to be desired, especially in fulfilling its commitment to letting folks “play anywhere.” Still, at $4.99 a month, it seems like a very reasonable value proposition that is getting better and better as new games get added to the service.

The greatest strength of Apple Arcade is definitely the variety of games given the price. I am now more convinced of that than ever because I went ahead and built out a list of games you could add to your iOS library to mimic the offerings of the service, and it’s not exactly cheap. If you wanted to capture the breadth and depth of offerings that Apple Arcade currently offers users, it would cost you about $400 ($384 more precisely) in total.

The full list of these games is below. Each game is grouped by genre and includes a link to their review (if possible) and store page.

Apple Arcade in review

Posted by Campbell Bird on October 18th, 2019

This weekend, Apple Arcade will officially be one month old. That means anyone who signed up for the free trial on day one has a decision to make: Stick with the service and shell out $5 a month, or cancel and go about your merry way.

As someone who dove head first into Apple Arcade by playing 35 games since launch (and counting. See their rankings here), I’ve come away ambivalent about the service in its first month. While it is really nice to have a huge, curated list of premium games from a lot of well-known developers, there’s a lot about the service that could be improved. To illustrate this, check out some of my notes I kept while thoroughly testing the service:

Playond isn't a scam, it just has some problems to work on

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 25th, 2019

Last week, I wrote about Playond, a service by Bending Spoons that has been acquiring the mobile publishing rights to premium games and re-releasing them behind a subscription paywall. Since writing the piece, I received quite a few replies about the service, and most of it was negative.

The complaints mostly centered around how certain games didn’t actually verify old purchases properly and would also reset player progress. This definitely makes Bending Spoons seem like a shady player, and so it’s no wonder I started seeing chatter from players wondering why trusted developers would get into bed with such an operation.

Instead of just looking at anecdotal evidence, I decided to follow up on this. Is Playond really that bad? Are developers being tricked? Do said developers actually care about mobile anymore? I started trying to find these answers by reaching out to developers who agreed to be part of the service, and here’s what they said:

I am going to rank every game on Apple Arcade

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 23rd, 2019

Apple Arcade is here, and I’ve been thinking about how best to cover its debut. Writing reviews for each game seems unnecessary, and a lot of the takes on whether the service is worth the money seem a little premature. So, I got to thinking and came up with a really dumb idea: I am going to rank every game on Apple Arcade.

Why? I wouldn’t worry yourself about that too much. Just think of this as the definitive list of which games for the service are best and why.

Here’s how this will go: I’m going to work my way through every Apple Arcade game a handful of games at a time. I’ll analyze each one based on a set of loose criteria and then use that to decide where they fit among their peers. Each game will get a small blurb explaining what the game is, its rank, and additional info about rank changes as necessary.

By the end of this journey, every game on the service will have some handy info that you can use to do all kinds of things, like:


    1. Find the best games to play. And all without dealing with Arcade’s poor organization and layout.
    2. Learn whether the service is right for you. If the top games all seem lame, maybe don't pay for it.
    3. Know which games to avoid. Just because you can play something doesn’t mean you should. Avoid the stinkers.

So, there it is. I’ve said I’m going to do this, so I better go and start doing it. View the list here.

Lots of premium games are going free (sort of). Here's why

Posted by Campbell Bird on September 18th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

You may have seen over the past couple weeks a that a bunch of premium games have suddenly become free. This isn’t a mistake, nor is it some last hurrah before Apple Arcade hits, and it’s important to know that these games aren’t actually becoming free.

What’s happening here is there is a developer called Bending Spoons Apps that is buying up premium games to put them on a service called Playond. Playond seems to be a competitor to Apple Arcade in the sense that it’s taking premium titles, like Fowlst, Crashlands, and MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL, and putting them behind a $9.99/month paywall. In the course of this transition, the games themselves get updated to be listed as free, but—just like Netflix—you need to log into a subscription account in order to actually play them.

Apple Arcade's future depends on how Apple answers a few key questions

Posted by Campbell Bird on March 26th, 2019

Apple made a lot of waves from its special event this week. The announcement of Apple Arcade in particular, a subscription service that will deliver access to over 100 premium games starting this fall, sounds like a potential new step forward for gaming on mobile.

As great as this might sound though, there are lots of things Apple didn’t talk about as it relates to this new service. A lot of what Apple said yesterday may sound exciting, but I have my doubts about the service given what wasn’t covered in their presentation. There’s just too many unknowns, and—given Apple’s track record on games—I’m not sure Apple Arcade will seem all that great when we get the answers.

See below for some of the biggest mysteries looming over the announcement and my thoughts on why their absence has me worried about this service.