Apple Arcade Splits Into Arcade Originals, Timeless Classics, App Store Greats

Yesterday started out as a fairly normal Friday as far as all things Apple Arcade go, with the release of two new Arcade titles marking the end of the week.

That in itself is not unusual.

The quality of those two new releases – Wonderbox and Fantasian – elevated that fairly normal Friday to an exceptional one. Both are outstanding games, and both are a particularly good fit for Apple TV, screaming to be played via Arcade’s console option.

I was one of the fortunate few who found themselves with a copy of Wonderbox weirdly downloaded to Apple TV a whole week ago following a strange release hiccup, and I’ve been playing it pretty solidly since. So with Fantasian being the shiny new thing, I logged four and a half hours into Mistwalker’s beautiful new JRPG yesterday, and plan to log many more (you can read about my first 11 minutes right here).

At about 11.45pm, I switched off the Nimbus, powered down the Apple TV 4K (which in turn automatically turned off my TV, handy), off with the surround sound system, and put the electric recliner back into seating position so my wife wouldn’t end up face planting into the lounge room rug in the middle of the night (again).

Off to bed, grabbed the iPad and checked my emails one last time before sleep.

A press release from Apple tells me more than 30 new games have just been added to Apple Arcade.

It’s hard to complain about a whole bunch of new games being added to a service you’re already paying for, and Apple’s big reveal last night paves the way for some very exciting possibilities, but the news has also managed to confuse things a little.

Apple Arcade is still Apple Arcade. All is well. Nothing has been lost, much has been gained. The way it’s being communicated by Apple isn’t entirely crystal clear though. At least not to me.

There’s now three categories – Apple Arcade Originals, Timeless Classics and App Store Greats.

Here’s how Apple’s press release explains it:

Timeless Classics includes universally loved, quintessential genres with titles like “Good Sudoku by Zach Gage,” “Chess – Play & Learn,” and “Backgammon,” while App Store Greats brings some of the best award-winning games from the App Store to Apple Arcade, including “Threes!,” “Mini Metro,” and “Fruit Ninja Classic,” all ad-free and fully unlocked. These two new categories join Arcade Originals to bring the service’s catalog to over 180 outstanding games for the entire family to enjoy at a great value, with no ads or additional in-app purchases.

On the surface it seems reasonably clear, but it raises a few questions.

Why? Because Apple’s press release also notes:

‘Arcade Originals are playable across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. Timeless Classics and App Store Greats are available on iPhone and iPad.’

This all seems to suggest that Arcade Originals will be completely new titles, or in other words, the same Apple Arcade we’ve grown to know and love since September 2019, while the Classics and Greats will be Apple’s way of bringing previously released games into the fold, which is a great idea. For example, I’d love to see a completely unlocked version of Real Racing 3 come to Apple Arcade as an App Store Great.

Leo’s Fortune however, has been available on the App Store for years (and is amazing, read my review), but is now noted in Apple Arcade’s Coming Soon section as coming to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. So no Arcade version for Mac. Does that make it an Arcade Original or an App Store Great? Or is the Mac version just still on the way?

I guess ultimately, apart from my love of simplicity and clarity – does it matter?

Probably not.

Search the App Store on one of those eligible devices and you’ll now find Leo’s Fortune and Leo’s Fortune +, with the ‘+’ identifying the Apple Arcade version. So it seems those who’ve previously paid money for Leo’s Fortune will still have access to re-download their paid version outside of Apple Arcade, if at some point they’ve deleted it to save space on their device. Hopefully this ‘+’ system stays in place, otherwise a lot of unhappy customers will be storming the Apple castle, if for example the free-to-play version of Fruit Ninja one day disappears and those players don’t want to subscribe to Arcade.

These few niggles aside, some interesting titles were part of yesterday’s huge addition to the service, and this being The Apple TV Gaming Blog, of particular note for Apple TV gamers is World of Demons, Star Trek: Legends and NBA 2K21, which all look like they might be nice console titles. World of Demons is the first on my hit list to try out over the weekend.

At the end of the day (my wife hates that saying, so shhh) all that’s happened is that Apple Arcade just got a whole lot bigger overnight, while posing some very interesting possibilities for the future, both of which are good things, and hopefully the grey areas will crystallise and clarify over time.

Okay. World of Demons. It’s time.

If you’re new to The Apple TV Gaming Blog (ATVG), or just new to Apple TV gaming in general, or both, then the best place to get acquainted is our Best Apple TV Games of 2020 article. You’ll find a great collection of games to play, and a bunch of useful links to our previous site content. Welcome aboard. Enjoy the ride.