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Why Apple Arcade is a must-try for this hardcore Android user

It's a different proposition to Google Stadia, and that's why it could be interesting.

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This story is part of CNET's coverage of Apple Arcade, including exclusive first looks we got at some of the service's high-profile new games.

I haven't been paying much attention to the hype around Apple Arcade, the tech giant's new game subscription service. Why would I? I don't have an iPhone. I'm not going to get an iPhone. I only use a Mac for work. When I play video games, it's usually on my old PlayStation 4 -- and still I buy discs.

But Apple Arcade has gently tapped my shoulder and convinced me to take another look.

I haven't had an iPhone in a hot minute -- in over seven years, to be exact. I haven't regretted my decision to switch to Android despite the sparkly offerings laid out by Apple at its recent iPhone event. The prices aren't worth going back for. I can't justify $1,000, essentially a mortgage payment, for a phone.

But Arcade is affordable -- $4.99 per month (£4.99, AU$7.99), Apple said at its iPhone event, as if offering me a hot cup of my favorite tea and a Snuggie.

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So, I started researching, with my husband's voice echoing in my mind: We're a Google family. That led me to assume that if we were going to invest in a gaming service, it would be Google Stadia, which the company announced in March. A few months later, E3 showcased a slew of Stadia games like Outriders, 12 Minutes, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Borderlands 3, Bloodlines 2 and more. I know I can get most of these without Stadia, except for one of the smaller announcements, Gylt, which would be exclusive to the service. I wasn't going to get Stadia just for one game

Stadia won't offer an option to play for free until 2020. On Apple Arcade, the games are rolled into the subscription cost, but you don't get to keep them if you leave the service. With Stadia, you're paying a subscription, plus the price of games. But I have an internet connection and I have a Chrome browser -- the two components required besides the subscription itself. To use Apple Arcade, you need an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac or Apple TV. And, we're a Google family. 

I called my husband and told him everything I'd learned. 

"I mean, I guess Apple Arcade would be kinda cool or whatever," I said, waiting for a lecture. 

"Well, we have an Apple TV if you want to try it," he said.

My world crumbled. "B... but, we're a Google family." 

We hung up and I went back to my research. Suddenly Apple Arcade was a possibility for me. Later, I watched the Apple Event unfold and the details of Apple Arcade solidify. This dedicated Android user cursed under her breath.

It's important to note that I'm not knocking Google Stadia. I'm not planning to switch to Apple devices and I don't think either service is perfect. The Google-Apple rivalry is about to extend into the passionate world of gamers, who in the past have been ride-or-die for Xbox or PlayStation. Tensions are going to run high.

Stadia offers a great deal, even though I bristled at the price tag of $129 for the Founders preorder. However, that preorder price is a steal when you look at what you're getting -- a massive Destiny 2 package, a Stadia controller, a Chromecast Ultra, three months of Stadia Pro for free, the buddy pass and the Founders badge. That's a value of over $300 if you were to buy this stuff straight out. 

But Stadia still feels like it's aimed solely at console gamers. On Twitter, Stadia business development manager Ray Bautista touted that the service offers 4K gameplay, no patches, no updates, no installs, no downloads and no console. But, the average person, a casual gamer or a family looking for a game to play on a Friday night probably isn't too concerned about frames per second. 

While Stadia still has games to add, Apple Arcade has established itself as a lifestyle gaming service from day one. It's more accessible and kid-friendly, and the games on the service reflect that. I don't subscribe to the school of thought that video games cause violent behavior, but parents might be more comfortable with the variety of games announced so far for Apple Arcade, and there's a wide range of different titles from puzzle games to reborn classics to immersive worlds. 

Neither Stadia nor Apple Arcade is a perfect platform, but the Apple-Google rivalry doesn't have to prevent you from trying them both out. No one even in your Apple or Google family has to really know that you momentarily strayed. 

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For me, some of the Apple Arcade games that have caught my eye initially are The Bradwell Conspiracy, HitchHiker, Overland, Projection: First Light and Where Cards Fall. I like games with mystery, narrative and complex characters. The more Apple Arcade games I found, the more I was curious to play -- Jenny LeClue, Possessions and Sayonara Wild Hearts look fun (some of these are also available to buy on other platforms). My husband even found a few that looked interesting -- UFO on Tape: First Contact, Little Orpheus and Enter the Construct. 

It looks like we'll at least be trying out Apple Arcade's one-month free trial, if not subscribing. No, you don't get to keep the games if you unsubscribe. But it's $60 a year, and we've got PS4 discs that cost $60 that we've only played once. So Apple Arcade feels like a pretty great deal for over 100 new games. Count this Android user in.

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