Apple Arcade: Narrowing or widening the gap?

iOS and iPadOS Gaming

In just a few days, Apple's new gaming service called Apple Arcade will hit the market. What will it mean to gamers with visual challenges?
In an ideal world, a significant subset of these games will be accessible, and will be clearly marked as such so we can make informed decisions when purchasing and downloading. It will be a platform where we can meet our fully sighted peers on equal terms and have loads of fun.
In the worst case scenario, the dollar's talking will drown out the soft voices asking for ethical conduct, none of the games will be accessible, and the new service will turn out to be yet another playground designed by the ableist for those they consider able, a playground to which only years of begging, with some luck, may grant us equal entry.
Where, within this spectrum, do you all think it will end up?
Cheers Perry



Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, September 12, 2019

I'm interested but don't hold out too much hope. Considering the percentage of accessible games on the app store it is highly unlikely that many will be included, if at all, in this curated model that apple have created. Saying that, it's a platform which advocates of accessible gaming can highlight and use as a stronger example than individual developers so, though we might not get much from it at launch, it may work as greater leverage for accessible games in the future.

Submitted by Justin on Thursday, September 12, 2019

Not sure on the "accessible" front, but look at video games for the mainstream consoles (PS4, Xbox) that can be played, without sighted assist figure audio cues, etc. I'd say that maybe some games will work with workarounds, but don't know.

Submitted by ming on Thursday, September 12, 2019

I hope apple can help or ask the developers to make their games accessible.

Submitted by ming on Thursday, September 12, 2019

if we have someone who are working closely to apple. maybe we can ask apple to make sure that every games on apple arcade should be accessible.

Submitted by Zachary on Thursday, September 12, 2019

While I understand some people's reluctance about Apple Arcade, it's important to realize who we're dealing with here. This is Apple, a company who has demonstrated time and time again that they care deeply about accessibility. I'm not talking about software releases where there were lots of bugs at launch, because all software has bugs. I'm talking about products and services that have been released with accessibility from day one. Cast your mind back to the release of iPad… VoiceOver from day one. Apple Watch? VoiceOver from day one. HomePod? also VoiceOver from day one. You want to talk about services? OK, Apple Music? VoiceOver. News+? That was accessible as well, all be it with some bugs because of a few publishers not wanting to adopt Apple’s format for news. I remember when the Apple Watch first launched, we were having a very similar conversation, and we were proved wrong. Am I 100% positive that Apple Arcade will have accessibility at launch? Absolutely not, but I fail to understand why Apple would describe all of their gameplay trailers for the service if they didn't intend for them to be playable by everyone. I saw a video relatively recently by Renee Richie talking about Apple Arcade, and he specifically mentioned accessibility. I will find a link and post it later. In short, I think everyone just needs to have an open mind about the service, because on the 19th, you might just be surprised.

Submitted by Remy on Thursday, September 12, 2019

It's a nice thought, but it's both unrealistic and impractical to expect developers to make all games accessible. Granted there are a lot of games which an be made accessible. Some types would take very little effort overall, but there are a lot of games which would be pretty difficult to make accessible. Then again, who knows what's possible these days.

Submitted by DMNagel on Thursday, September 12, 2019

Console game menus were scroll-based and we played with buttons. On here, I can't even play Street fighter.

Submitted by Justin on Thursday, September 12, 2019

I somehow managed to figure out a classic soul callibur game on iOS years ago and had a blast with it. Sure it wasn't that blind friendly, but it worked. Was it perfectly accessible/usable/whatever you wanna call it? no, but it worked. They had a mortal combat game a long time ago that worked. Don't remember it now, but I managed to play it. I think apple arcade will work, eventually. I'd put the money down on it.

Submitted by ming on Friday, September 13, 2019

well, after IOS 13 it can support PS4 controler and the XBox controler.
and the fighting games series like street fighters, the king of fighters and Mortal kombat should be more easier to play!
but, I still the developers can work with apple closely and make it more accessible.
hope when the arcade released. some of you guys will demonstrate some of the great games in the podcast!

Submitted by DMNagel on Friday, September 13, 2019

Thanks for that. I will investigate the matter of the PS for controller.

Submitted by Perry Simm on Friday, September 13, 2019

It was not my intention to come across as negative. I merely described the two extreme ends of a spectrum so there would be a coordinate system in which the new service could meaningfully locate itself.
Cheers Perry

Submitted by Gar on Friday, September 13, 2019

If you can't make a game accessible, if you aren't willing to take the time to ensure it's enjoyable for those with varying abilities, then don't bother.
I'm sorry if my views seem harsh but...
Recently I went through the entire AppleVis game directory and only a handful of games on that list ever caught my attention in the first place. Of those, I've gotten bored of all but two games.
The lack of diversity in the games we have access to is painful, and the quality of what we can play is, in my opinion, mostly laughable.

Submitted by ming on Friday, September 13, 2019

wow! when it is really released I would like to see anyone can find any good game and playable one! if not.
we can forget about it!
but, apple have done a good job in their accessibility in their service.
I hope this one also can make it accessible too.
even it is difficult to ask their developers to think about it!

Submitted by mority on Friday, September 13, 2019


I think people should remember that it#s not apple who programs and releases those games, these games are specially advertised in apple arcade and come from different developers. We are not a big margine of there market, making your game accessible requires work hours and possibly people who know how to make a game accessible wich is costing money.It's always a question if the money spend on such a project will later mean more revenue for these companies. We're living ina capitalistic system people, only a plus counts for those companies in the end.

Greetings Moritz.

Submitted by Wayne Scott Jr on Friday, September 13, 2019

I think. We live in a sighted world. As far as accessibility, we have to do things by trial and error. If a game isn't accessiwith I won't get it. But I won't know that unless I try it first. Apple has really come through as far as Accessibility. Having worked with both Jaws, NVDA and VoiceOver, VoiceOver is the most responsive. I'm not sure about the Apple Arcade. I'm going to wait and see and read the reviews on here when it comes out. Give Appe a chance. As far as third-part developers, we will have to theait and see. I'm willing to give the thing a chance. But I will wait for the reviews and then decide. Everybody has their own preference. Think positive, folks!

Submitted by Darrell Bowles on Saturday, September 14, 2019

I am going to come at this topic from the perspective of one who has played IOS games, and also console games.
I, for a very short time, worked for electronic arts, the makers of the popular Madden NFL franchise. If you visit my youtube channel, you will see just how accessible Madden 20 actually is.
I'll post a link to that channel, and I"ll also say that you should subscribe.
Now, moving on.
The problem is, is that even in the console world, developers who agree to make there games accessible for the most part are only complying with CVAA. What the CVAA says is that all players should be able to communicate online with other players, and that those menus that are used to access online features should be made accessible.
What this means is that a game developer could only make, and is only required to make online features accessible. So for example, if a person wanted to play through a mode where you could manage a team for example, if it was not online, the developer does not have to make that mode accessible, cutting blind and visually impaired players out of a critical mode of the game.
The reason for that is the wording of the act, wich says that anything outside communications, is not required.
I could list other ways in wich this act does not help us, but instead, I'll turn to the new apple service.
Most likely, the developers of these games who will be in apple arkade, have never heard of blind people using smart phones, much less playing games. While apple does give guidelines for making there games accessible, they have never in any way tried to make accessibility mandatory.
If the folks at Sony, Apple, and Microsoft did that, it could believe it or not, hurt them financially.
It is highly unlikely for that reason, that any of these games will be accessible, and if they are, I will be pleasantly surprised.
The link to my youtube channel is below.…
Enjoy, and do subscribe

Submitted by Zachary on Saturday, September 14, 2019

The thing that people don't seem to be realizing about Arcade is that Apple is directly involved with the development of these games. They aren't just saying to developers "hey make some games and will put them on our platform,” they are hand picking and curating the games and are directly involved with helping developers make them. I'm pretty sure that they would've thought about accessibility for at least some of these titles. I would be shocked if on the 19th we aren't able to use this service at all. It's very unlike Apple to make something that not everyone can use. Whenever Apple designs a product or service, they think about how people with different abilities will be able to use that product or service from the very beginning. In addition to this, Apple has their own SDK for Arcade. I'm pretty sure this SDK has accessibility APIs to use with VoiceOver and other accessibility features like Switch Control.

Submitted by nohansa nuh on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

hy, can I use apple arcade with iOS 12.4.1?
or I hav tu update to iOS 13.

thanks and advance.

Submitted by Perry Simm on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

You need to be running iOS 13 as otherwise the interface to Apple Arcade is not available in the App Store.
We, that is, the collective behind the Perry Simm avatar, will not have the time to test early. However, we strongly urge anyone interested in accessible gaming to give it a whirl, try out every game whose description suggests it might just be accessible, and as soon as the service officially launches for everyone, hit and the social networks with your findings. It may take all the examining, explaining, and exposing we can do to win the fight for accessibility.
We are not entitled. But we do have a voice. And whatever tone that voice needs to adopt in order to make the world a more accessible place, you bet it will adopt that tone.
Let the games begin.
Cheers Perry

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I'll continue to play about but the beta isn't looking good this end. It's also hard to identify anything that might be the type of game that might be playable.

Submitted by Kristen on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I was just about to post here to see if anyone had tried the Beta.

Apparently if you are in the Apple Beta program and have IOS 13 Beta on your device, you can try this out early. I didn't really want to go through the hoops to do this on my phone. Hopefully some other people have tried.

But from the sounds of the last poster ... maybe I should deflate my hopes a bit? (I was not expecting 100% of the games to be accessible, as it is impossible to make every single type of game work feasibly with Voice Over, but I was hoping at least a small percentage would be useable.)

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I've just grabbed a few at random, none of which were accessible. That's not to say that accessible games are not there or that, if they are not, they won't be added in the future. It's only the start after all,. I'm certain they will be included but it's far harder than most things apple have been up against when considering accessability I predict great things. Take heart.

Submitted by Devin Prater on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I've tried nearly all 75 or so games, with and without a game controller. None are accessible. This is the first, and probably now won't be the last, thing with Apple's name on it that isn't accessible. Ah well, Microsoft is now taking video game accessibility more seriously than Apple, lol. Imagine that. But only Apple takes the time to have something complete, so when the Apple accessibility team open their eyes to possibility a bit more and strength their legs and get conversation going about maybe, possibly, adding a note to games that are not accessible, and those that are, then things will change. Companies want to look good, so if their games can be played by disabled people, the most disadvantaged minority, then maybe they'll pay more attention. If not, at least we can go around telling people how Apple isn't "woke" enough to curate games that are accessible to everyone, lol. That'll surely get their... Oh, even better, get the NFB on them, they'll definitely notice that... right? /sarcasm

At the end of the day, though, Apple Arcade is an entire tab in the App Store with games that we cannot play. It's almost a slap in the face that their videos on Apple's Arcade site are have audio description. I really wanted to play "the pathless", too. Instead, I'm stuck with, admittedly great games like Six Ages and Dice World, but it would have been good if Apple stuck to accessibility in *everything* they do, in *every* product, and now service, that they put the Apple logo on. I sincerely hope this isn't a sign of things to come, other services, or worse, products, released without accessibility. Because if its released without accessibility, it'll be that much harder to build it in.

Submitted by Zachary on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

While I do agree that it feels a little bit like a slap in the face, remember that game accessibility is tricky, and the fact that Apple is working with third-party developers for this platform probably only makes it more difficult to implement everything correctly. I bet that accessibility for these titles is probably being worked on right now or soon will be. When iOS 13 officially drops, I would definitely right to be accessibility team and inquire about this. I personally would like an explanation from Apple directly as to why an entire section of the population is being locked out of this service.

Submitted by Darrell Bowles on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Yes, I to would like an explanation as to why we are being left out. But if you think the NFB is going to get on the band wagon about accessible games, Well, Wild bores will start singing the blews before that happens.
They won't even deal with accessibility and equality in the job market so...

Yes yes, I know, but shoot, it's worth a shot. The NFB loves to hate on Apple, so maybe they'll... blindly... just attack them for this, and they'd have a great reason too.

Submitted by kool_turk on Wednesday, September 18, 2019

So how about a bit of brain storming.

How would you make some of these games playable by us.

I'll use that game where you play as a turtle as an example, I hear that's like an endless runner, pan a bit of the sounds, add a few sounds for the various obstacles and it should be playable.

Now, there is another game called lego brawlers where you build characters out of lego then get them to duke it out, sounds like fun I know, but how would you even make something like that accessible?

Lego have different types of bricks, some have 2 studs, some have up to 8.

So, can anyone come up with a way to make a game where you need to build things out of lego accessible?

I don't think we're anywhere near having a virtual tactile screen, one that's in 3d, because that's what you would need to pull off something like this.

Maybe I'm over complicating things, I use to love lego and trainsets as a kid, especially the sets that would just let you build whatever your imagination could come up with.

What really helps is if you know how something looks on the screen and find a way if at all possible to adapt it.

I think you will find, with a bit of considering, that most things can be adapted.

We just have to show them how it could be done.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Remember we're talking about a new platform here and not a static app or device. They will be adding a ton of games over the next few months and, though I would have liked accessability to at least something out of the gate, they are trying to please the masses, get people signed up and most likely more developers on board.

Also, I am of the opinion that not all games can be made playable for the blind, atleast, not and keep the same spirit of the game. I'm still waiting for any mainstream game that is just as playable for sighted as for non sighted people. I'm sure it is possible, espcially first person RPGs with use of 3d sound and interactibles making sounds... But it's more of a hope.

As you say, microsoft seem to be making a lot of noise about accessible gaming, though I've not heard of anything that works for blind gamers as yet... But if that gains traction, apple will join. Guess we're waiting for the snowball.

Submitted by Perry Simm on Monday, September 23, 2019

Frank Herbert, one of the wisest SF authors of all time, had this to say on the subject of beginnings:
"A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct."
This care has apparently not been taken here. With no official statement from Apple regarding present or future accessibility of Arcade, we are left with but one option, and that is to wait. There are many modes of waiting, though, and so I choose to wait noisily, to wait beating the drum, to wait pointing the finger. Waiting can be such an active process.
Cheers Perry

This is what I've tried to do. But, it is so hard, when even blind people accuse me of whining, or that I just don't have the right attitude to play these games, and sighted people obviously just get the feels and move on to another emotional topic. But, I've emailed Apple Accessibility about it, and as a first for them, they've not responded yet. So, maybe they're waking up themselves from all the work gone into iOS13, ready to lobby Apple for some accessible gaming. Really, I see it like this. It's not what games can we play, we have plenty in the blind community, from simple FPS, fun RPG's, challenging card and word games, rhythm games, and the pervasive react to the noise games. I'm sure that teams of hundreds, or even a few great game developers can make their game accessible. It just takes some time, and heck, maybe even a monitary incentive to do so. Maybe, if a game can be played by everyone, not just every non-disabled person, the developer gets twice as much money from time spent playing the game as other, stone-age devs who don't see disabled people as a viable market. For now, though, I've gone back to playing MUD's, mostly Clok, on a Windows computer because when I play a game, I want to have *fun* not be frustrated by inaccessibility. I think I'll also ask leading Apple analysts what they think of the inaccessibility of Apple Arcade games.

Submitted by ming on Monday, September 23, 2019

do you think using ps4 or xbox controller can make the game a little bit easier to play.?
like some of the fighting games series!

Submitted by Perry Simm on Monday, September 23, 2019

Since some developers of accessible games are contributing or lurking here, in the best sense of the word: Could you devs please chime in and provide some insight on what you would need to do to get your games into Apple Arcade? I'm talking about games like Timecrest, Audio Wizards, Six Ages, Crafting Kingdom, Path Of Adventure ... you name it.
How easy, or how hard, is it for a developer of an accessible game to get his/her game into Apple Arcade? Does accessibility play any role in how Arcade games are curated? By this metric may we be able to judge if Apple cares about the accessibility of Arcade.
Cheers Perry