$4.99/m for Apple Arcade or $60 for Resident Evil 4 on iPhone? The choice is harder than you think

Apple Arcade new games in May 2023
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone is a pretty great gaming machine. It's something that you have with you everywhere and the App Store is full of games that you can pick up, play, and put back down all while standing in line at the grocery store. It's a cliche, but it happens countless times a day all around the world. But that isn't enough. Apple wants to turn our iPhones into bonafide game consoles.

You can see that everywhere. You only have to look at last month's iPhone 15 Pro unveiling and the A17 Pro chip inside it in particular. It's a chip that's unlike anything in an iPhone to date, and it's going to form the basis for future Mac chips, too. Its GPU is on another level and features hardware-based ray tracing, allowing for so-called console-quality games. Apple showed some off. They're coming to the App Store soon.

But console-level gaming costs console-level money. Resident Evil 4 Remake will be a free download as a trial of sorts, but you'll need to give Capcom (and Apple, thanks to that 30% cut) $60 to get your hands on the full game. Resident Evil Village is cheaper (and older, in terms of its console release), but it'll still cost $40 when it arrives on October 30. In a world where iPhone apps and games are deemed expensive if they cost a penny more than free, that's a lot to ask. Especially when you can get everything Apple Arcade has to offer for just $4.99 per month. In fact, you can get it for 14 whole months for the price of Resident Evil 4 Remake. So with that all being said, you'd think that Apple Arcade is the best way to spend your $60, right?

Well. Maybe. But maybe not. Let me explain.

Not all games are created equal

Stardew Valley on iPhone

(Image credit: ConcernedApe)

We have to begin by saying that Apple Arcade is undoubtedly great value. At $4.99 per month or arguably less when bundled in with other services as part of Apple One, the sheer number of games you get is enough to make it worth checking out. Apple announced four new games this week alone, including NBA 2K24 which is essentially a console game itself.

Apple's press release for those new titles says that there are now more than 200 titles available across various devices. Remember that Apple Arcade isn't just about the iPhone, its wares often work on the iPad, Mac, and Apple TV as well. With so many games to choose from and new ones arriving regularly, you can't go wrong.

But the thing is, Apple Arcade does have a type. It isn't exclusively limited to that type, but it has a type nevertheless. Peruse the Apple Arcade section of the App Store now and you'll find a lot of those dip-in-and-out titles I mentioned earlier. You'll find a lot of remakes of previous App Store hits. You'll find games that feel like they were originally built for a slew of in-app purchases to sell coins only to have that component ripped out to turn them into Apple Arcade titles instead. I won't say Apple Arcade is full of games for kids, but that's the type that's hard to shake.

Some of the Apple Arcade titles are true marvels, though. Any subscription deal with games like Stardew Valley included has my vote. There are others as well. Plenty, in fact.

But you know what you won't find? Resident Evil.

Big games for big gamers

Resident Evil 4 on iPhone

(Image credit: Capcom)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the big games. The games that would normally live in the App Store, not Apple Arcade. The App Store is of course full of what some would call games for hardcore gamers. But the likes of Resident Evil 4 Remake and Resident Evil Village take things to the extreme by charging those same people the kinds of prices they'd expect to see on full-blown consoles.

Not that that's a bad thing. You get what you pay for with most things in life and that's the case here. These are games created on scales the likes of which normal iPhone games just don't see. If they look and play the way we've been told to expect them to, they're going to change iPhone gaming.

Whether people will sit and play these kinds of immersive, big-budget games on an iPhone is a different matter entirely of course. But that's something we'll find out soon enough. And if Capcom can make it work we can likely expect more console games to follow suit, too.

More choice for all

So should you spend your $60 on Resident Evil 4 Remake, or on 14 months of Apple Arcade?

Ultimately, and if you can, you should spend it twice and get both. If not, get the one you're drawn to. There's an Apple Arcade trial and there will be a trial for both Resident Evil games, too.

As ever, choice is good. But if you've only got $60 to spend and want the most bang for your buck, it's hard to look past Apple Arcade. Especially if you've got kids.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.