Apple is reportedly planning a new gaming subscription service, according to five people familiar with the matter. The service is said to function like Netflix for games, which would allow users to access a bundled list of titles by paying a subscription fee. The people, whom requested anonymity to discuss the unannounced plans, claim that Apple began discussing a subscription service with game developers privately in the second half of 2018.
While it’s unclear just how much the subscription will cost or what kind of games Apple will offer, the service is still in early stages of development and the company could even decide to ditch the idea altogether.
In addition, the company discussed partnering with developers as a publisher, according to two people familiar with the matter. Cheddar reports that these talks could “signal Apple’s ambition to assume distribution, marketing, and other related costs for select games.”
The iPhone-maker is already developing a new video streaming service to rival Netflix, partnering with carriers in hopes of increasing the subscriber base for Apple Music and is even planning to release a news subscription service sometime this year.
“It’s a big enough market to move the needle for Apple,” Gene Munster, a longtime Apple analyst and investing partner at Loup Ventures, told Cheddar.
There are still questions regarding how an Apple subscription service for games will function for both game developers and players. Apple originally popularized the selling of mobile games as a one-time purchase of a particular game. Now, it’s reportedly working on a subscription service in a time period where free-to-play games like Fortnite dominate by making money from optional in-app purchases.
“The vast majority of revenue coming out of the App Store is games,” said BTIG analyst Brandon Ross. “Subscription has proven to be a successful way of monetizing on mobile. It is completely unproven in games except for some minor success from Microsoft, Sony, and Electronic Arts.”