Apple wants to tilt the balance from ad-laden freemium gaming titles toward all-access ad-free gaming experiences that can be downloaded across platforms on iOS, macOS and tvOS.
At the company’s services event this morning, they announced Apple Arcade, their new premium subscription service for gaming across their hardware products. “We want to make gaming even better,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said onstage.
The subscription will boast 100+ new and exclusive games while Apple will be adding new content “all the time.” It looks like the company will have a hand in building out the titles by working directly with developer partners to produce titles. Early partners include names like Disney, Konami and Lego.
Another important note: All games will be playable offline. This is a content play rather than a tech product like Google’s recently announced Stadia game-streaming platform. The subscription will provide access to all of the content in the games without ads.
Apple has the benefit of building this directly into the App Store; you’ll be able to access Apple Arcade from a new bottom tab in the App Store app. This may be the company’s best chance at leveraging its strength on iOS to finally build a better home for games on Mac.
The service is coming this fall. Apple oddly didn’t detail pricing, though they did share it would be launching in 150 regions.
Even the most successful tech company is going to have a stumble from time to …
“I didn’t know what car Mirage was going to be at first,” said Steven Caple Jr., director of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. “Where I’m from, in Cleveland, Ohio, I’d never even been in a Porsche before,” he continued. “My actual first introduction to Porsche was Bad Boys I, so shout out to Michael Bay—that’s all I really had.”
Caple admitted in a panel during Austin’s South by Southwest festival that the star car of the beloved action film Bad Boys inspired him to make Mirage a classic Porsche in the upcoming film. Mirage is a bit of a rebel himself, and the callback to the classic buddy-cop movie just felt right.
Fortunately, extraterrestrial Autobots won’t be tempted to pull over in any sketchy places to debate the merits of in-car snacking, but this does mean they have bigger nemeses that necessitate transforming into giant robots to handle. It can be more complicated than you’d expect to make a cool Porsche into an Autobot film star, though—in fact, Porsche has a whole team that helps Hollywood studios get just the right car on the silver screen. Here’s how it all comes together.
It starts with a character. Filmmakers have a certain look and vibe in mind when a new Transformer is “cast,” so to speak. Mirage is a bad boy with an attitude, and the film, set in 1994, is meant to be a sequel to Bumblebee. That made Caple think of the 1994 911 Turbo from Bad Boys.
“I was born in the ’80s, and I was a kid in the ’90s… this is the era when I grew up,” Caple explained. “This movie is like a time capsule to me.”
“You get to ’94, and everything started to change—from the wardrobe to the culture to the music to the cars,” he continued. “You start to step away from square-bodied cars and say, ‘hello curves.'”
The “casting” choice of the 964-era 911—a car that was dramatically smoother and more streamlined than any 911 before it—is a callback for the current Transformers series, given that Bad Boys was Michael Bay’s feature-length directorial debut. Yet Mirage has always been portrayed as an upper-crust member of Autobot society, so it makes sense that the Transformers team picked an even rarer 964-generation Porsche to portray him: a 1993 911 Carrera RS 3.8.
“When I was designing the character, it started there,” Caple said. “I talked to Owen [Shively] and the team at Porsche and said… he’s going to be an outlaw. He’s going to be a rebel. Going to be flashy. Very confident, but smooth.”
That’s when Porsche suggested looking into the 911 Carrera RS 3.8.
The Carrera RS 3.8 uses the same wider body shape as Bad Boys‘ 911 Turbo, but it was a homologation specially produced to legalize the Carrera RSR race car with a host of lightweight parts and a hardcore aerodynamic package designed for track domination. Porsche only ever made 55 RS 3.8s, according to Total 911, making it an exceptionally rare ride. In other media and toys in the past, Mirage has been a Ferrari and a Formula 1 car, so an ultra-rare Porsche feels like a solid fit.
While many of us associate the Transformers series with the heavy use of CGI, the filmmakers still need to source real cars to use for many of the shots—and Porsche has a whole team dedicated to helping filmmakers place just the right car into film and television projects.
Owen Shively, from that early ideation conversation Caple mentioned, is the CEO of RTTM Agency, Porsche Cars North America’s exclusive representative when it comes to entertainment partnership requests like this. When Porsche needs someone to arrange a specific car for a new film or TV project, Shively’s agency is where they turn.
For a major game that was first announced nearly four years ago and is set to launch in less than two months, we’ve seen remarkably little gameplay footage from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom beyond some very sparse trailers. Nintendo set out to partially fix that today, releasing a new video in which Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma showed off some of Link’s new abilities in a guided 10-minute gameplay presentation.
The most impactful new ability on display was called “Fuse,” which lets Link put together two disparate objects to create a new one with a brand-new effect. In the simplest example of this, Aonuma fused together a basic tree branch (which breaks incredibly easily even during simple fights) with a rock, creating a makeshift hammer with a lot more power and durability.
Unlike in Breath of the Wild, where Link had to hunt for the most powerful weapons, the focus here will be on creating those weapons from component parts, Aonuma said. Fusing a long stick with a pitchfork can give you a longer attack range, for instance, and fusing various materials to arrows can create useful side-effects like freezing powers or a homing capability.
Fusion can also be used more defensively; Aonuma attached a mushroom to his shield, leading to an enemy-blinding explosive dust cloud when he blocked an attack. “Even if you struggle with combat, you can take down enemies using similar methods,” Aonuma said.
The ability to put different objects together extends beyond combat, too. A new “ultrahand” ability (named in an apparent nod to an antique Japanese Nintendo toy) let Aonuma stick together three logs to craft a raft and add two self-powered fans to create a kind of airboat. Aonuma noted that the car and flying machine Link rode in previous Tears of the Kingdom trailers were similarly constructed from individual parts in the game world and not inserted wholesale by the developers.
Other abilities shown in the brief gameplay demonstration highlighted Tears of the Kingdom‘s verticality. An “Ascend” ability, for instance, lets Link climb right through any ceiling above his head to the floor above, a method that even works in caves or with small ridges overhanging from cliff faces.
To reach the “sky islands” floating high above Link, Aonuma also showed off a “Recall” ability to reverse the movement of a large asteroid-like block that had fallen from the sky, using it as a kind of elevator. Aonuma said this was just one of many ways to get to these far-off islands in the sky.
But enemies can also use wind-based weapons to blow Link off the edges of these sky islands, forcing him into a paratrooper-without-a-plane-style skydive. In the demo, Aonuma guided Link’s descent as the ground quickly approached, ending with a dramatic dive into a river.
Aonuma stressed that he would “run out of time” if he discussed all the new features in Tears of the Kingdom, which he said has now completed all development work. Based on what was shown today, though, it looks like the game should lead to the kind of player experimentation and clever puzzle solving that could give Tears of the Kingdom a long life with tinkerers and content creators well past the “end” of the game’s story.
Only a few hours remain for anyone who wants to buy games from the eShops for Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS.
As it promised more than a year ago, Nintendo is shutting down those digital storefronts tonight at 8 pm Eastern, after previously halting the ability to add eShop funds in May 2022. After today, you can still download or re-download any titles you’ve previously bought from those shops, though that can obviously change in the future. Closing the eShops means that roughly 1,000 digital-only games will no longer be accessible, according to research by VGC, including 335 Virtual Console games that aren’t available through the Nintendo Switch Online service.
These kinds of sweeping moves, while perhaps understandable from a business perspective, pose a serious danger to the preservation of many games in the systems’ libraries. As Ars detailed earlier this month, video game preservationists are hamstrung by laws and regulations around remote access to DRM-protected work, even if it’s kept by research-driven organizations. Nintendo is one of many organizations that, through the Entertainment Software Association, lobbies to prevent libraries from offering legal access to archived games.
Today’s shutdown also marks the end of Nintendo’s Virtual Console, which allowed for the purchase of individual games from Nintendo’s catalog without a subscription. The Console was killed on the original Wii in 2019, and Nintendo does not intend to offer it on the Switch, noting in an FAQ about the eShop shutdown that it currently has “no plans to offer classic content in other ways” (since removed, but archived here). It has, however, offered a website on which you can “Bring back your gaming memories” of 3DS and Wii U titles you’ve purchased and played.
If you’re wondering what it would take to buy every game on the eShop, somebody already did that. The Completionist, aka Jirard Khalil, downloaded 1.2TB of Wii U and 267GB of 3DS games, taking 328 days and costing $22,791. “Since the industry started, we run a daily risk of losing games forever,” Khalil tells viewers in the video. “That’s why this matters.” Khalil is donating the consoles and storage containing all the games to the Video Game History Foundation and will host a Preserved Play fundraiser for the foundation April 15-16 on his Twitch channel.