Casual iOS games

Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade Logo

Console gaming on mobile

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (xCloud)

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Apple Arcade lets you play over 180 mobile games in several different genres without having to worry about microtransactions or ads. It's a great value, however, it doesn't always run smoothly or work the same on every iOS device.

$5.99/mo at App Store

Pros

  • Access to 180+ games
  • Several genres
  • Costs less than Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
  • Free of ads and microtransactions

Cons

  • Some games don't run smoothly
  • No AAA games
  • Not all iOS devices handle it the same way

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate gives you access to over 100 console and PC games on mobile. You can even start a game on your Xbox and then continue on your mobile device and vice versa. Unfortunately, the service for iOS and PC is in invitation-only beta right now.

$1 for first month, $15/mo after at Microsoft

Pros

  • Access to 100+ Xbox/PC games on mobile
  • Includes Xbox Live Gold and EA Play
  • Can subscribe for less with PC games only or Xbox games only
  • Swap between playing on iOS devices and Xbox/PC

Cons

  • iOS version still in beta
  • Relatively expensive
  • Some games have microtransactions

While both Xbox Game Pass (XCloud) on iOS and Apple Arcade offer quality game subscription services to help you entertain yourself for hours, they're also very different from each other. To figure out which service is best for you, you'll need to determine what you want out of a gaming subscription.

Apple Arcade vs. Xbox Game Pass (xCloud) on iOS: What's the difference?

Sayonara Wild Hearts and Apple Arcade with a DualShock 4 controllerSource: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore Apple Arcade used on iPhone and iPad with a PS4 controller.

Comparing Apple Arcade and Xbox Game Pass is almost like comparing, well, apples to green oranges. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is more for allowing you to do core Xbox and PC gaming for a monthly fee, with cloud gaming included, while Apple Arcade tends to offer more traditional or casual mobile games. They're both excellent services but satisfy different needs.

Xbox Game Pass Apple Arcade
Games 100+ 180+
Price $14.99/mo $4.99/mo
Availability Beta (by Invitation only) Open to all
Controller Compatibility Yes Yes
Microtransactions Yes (some games) No

Both services have a large library of games, though at the moment Apple Arcade's is much larger at 180+. That being said, more titles are frequently added to both on a regular basis.

Apple Arcade vs. Xbox Game Pass (xCloud) on iOS: What's the price?

Xbox Game Pass Ios With Xbox Controller CroppedSource: Rebecca Spear / iMore

Apple Arcade is a bit less expensive per month than Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at $4.99 per month, making it an incredible value. Meanwhile, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs a decent amount more than other game streaming services out there at $14.99 per month. However, Xbox Game Pass users can go for a lower subscription cost if they simply want to play PC games ($9.99 per month) or just console games ($9.99 per month).

Considering how many awesome games you get for the Ultimate subscription, it's really worth buying in. For instance, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate gives you Xbox Live Gold and EA Play, which respectively let you play online games and grant you access to a huge library of EA games like Jedi: Fallen Order, Sims 4, and Star War Squadrons.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is also really impressive given that it lets you play several games that sell for as much as $70 on their own. In that way it's an amazing deal. You can pick up any game and check it out without having to actually pay the full price for it. And if you decide a game isn't to your liking, you can stop without feeling buyer's remorse.

One of the biggest pluses for using Apple Arcade over simply downloading a game from the app store is that there aren't any ads nor microtransactions for these titles. Now, there aren't any ads on Xbox Game Pass either. However, some games do have in-game purchases. If you're trying to find a gaming service for your kid and don't want to worry about them potentially buying things, Apple Arcade is the safer way to go.

Apple Arcade vs. Xbox Game Pass (xCloud) on iOS: Gaming experience

Apple Arcade IphonesSource: Macintosh Apple Arcade promo.

Xbox Game Pass (xCloud) on iOS is quite a bit more than just mobile gaming. It allows players to access a certain number of AAA Xbox and PC games on their compatible iPhone or iPad devices. That means that while you're at home, you can play Xbox Game Pass games on your Xbox or PC and then while you're on a trip you can continue playing those games from your iPhone or iPad and vice versa. It's incredibly handy. Of course, the big issue right now is access, since it's available in an invitation-only beta.

Apple Arcade, on the other hand, does not give you any access to AAA games. Now, mobile gaming has come a long way in the past decade, so you can experience everything from simple puzzle titles like Tiny Crossword+ to action-adventures like Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, but it's not quite the same.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate games

Halo Master Chief RedSource: Xbox Game Studios Halo: Master Chief Collection.

Here's a tiny taste of the best games on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (xCloud):

  • Control
  • Monster Hunter World
  • Gears 5
  • Kingdom Hearts 3
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Halo: Master Chief Collection
  • Doom Eternal
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Sea of Thieves
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • ARK: Survival Evolved

Apple Arcade games

OceanhornSource: Cornfox & Bros. Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm.

This is just a small collection of the best Apple Arcade games:

  • Sayonara Wild Hearts
  • What the Golf?
  • The Oregon Trail
  • Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
  • Cat Quest 2
  • Exit the Gungeon
  • Star Trek Legends
  • Shantae and the Seven Sirens
  • NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition
  • Fruit Ninja
  • Sonic Racing
  • The Pinball Wizard
  • Manifold Garden
  • Pac-Man Party Royale
  • The Last Campfire

Apple Arcade vs. Xbox Game Pass (xCloud) on iOS: Controller Compatibility and Touch Controls

Xbox Game Pass With AccessoriesSource: Microsoft Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Promo.

Both Apple Arcade and Xbox Game Pass on mobile can pair with controllers to make the gaming experience more convenient. In fact, there are games on both services that require you to use an external controller while others have optional touch controls.

Many of the best game controllers for Apple Arcade are the same as the best controllers for Xbox Game Pass on iOS. My personal favorites for both services are the Xbox One controller, the PS4 controller, and the Razer Kishi, which basically turns your iPhone into a Nintendo Switch with joysticks and buttons on either side of the screen.

Apple Arcade vs. Xbox Game Pass (xCloud) on iOS: Which one should you get?

best apple arcade iPadsSource: iMore The Enchanted World, accessed through Apple Arcade on iPad.

This is one of those situations where there isn't a clear winner. However, considering that Apple Arcade is widely available while Xbox Game Pass on iOS currently isn't, the former is the better pick... for now. It allows you to specifically play mobile games that range from casual to more intensive experiences. It doesn't cost that much and it's also a great option to go with if you're trying to find a game subscription for your child that doesn't include microtransactions or ads.

If you think you'll enjoy playing core console games more than mobile games, then the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on iOS is the option for you. It offers a remarkable value letting you play some of the best Xbox and PC games without actually having to purchase them. You can also go for a lower subscription price if you opt for PC games only or Xbox games only. Unfortunately, Xbox Game Pass on iOS is currently in beta and accessible by invitation only. We don't know when it will open up for all, but it will likely be a while still.

Casual iOS gaming

Apple Arcade Logo

Apple Arcade

Ad and microtransaction-free mobile gaming

Play over 180 mobile games without having to worry about microtransactions or getting interrupted with ads. Games span a wide range of genres so the subscription is a great value.

Console gaming on mobile

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Access to Xbox and computer games

Play some of the best Xbox and PC games from your iPhone or iPad. You can start playing on one device and continue on another. It's the perfect option for core gamers.

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