New on Apple Arcade January 2023: Games for iPhone, iPad and Mac

As usual, Apple Arcade subscribers are getting new releases every Friday, as well as a slew of content updates in January 2023 – and it’s shaping up to be the service’s best month in quite some time.

We’ve got a new version of an iconic Nintendo 3DS game from the makers of Pokémon, some puzzle games and a new version of a popular interactive storytelling series, as well as content updates for some of the biggest games on the service. including the official best game on Apple Arcade, whetstone.

January 6th – Episode XOXO

In this illustration, two women are looking at each other coquettishly on the street.  Text reads:

Image: Pocket Gems/Apple

Follow XOXO is a new version of the popular romantic interactive story series Episode: Choose your story. While this is a free-to-play title with thousands of stories available for purchase, Follow XOXO Arcade brings “a premium, curated and streamlined episodic experience” with five stories at launch and more to be added in future updates.

January 13 – Illustrated

A puzzle begins to reveal a colorful illustration of a forest

Image: border jump/apple

Chilling, cozy, pretty puzzle games like Sting and Patterned resonates with Apple Arcade audiences, and here’s another one. Illustrated combines puzzle and word puzzles as you solve both an illustration and the written story behind it, with the image becoming full of color and vibrancy as you get closer to completion. Illustrated features artworks by various artists, including a series of Van Gogh puzzles from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

A field of cute horses races across the track in Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On!

Image: Game Freak/Apple

This month’s most exciting release is this new version of Pokémon developer Game Freak’s bizarre mix of horse racing and solitaire. First released on Nintendo 3DS a decade ago, Pocket card jockey is a compelling mix of frantic card room, track tactics, role-playing, collecting, and breeding as you both compete and develop your stable of adorable, burly racehorses.

January 27th – Squiggle Drop

A finger-pulled lever lowers a bridge for a line of cars in Squiggle Drop

Image: Pasta Pie/Apple

A new entry in the classic smartphone genre of touchscreen physics puzzle games, squiggle drops challenges players to use their creativity to solve physics puzzles by drawing a single shape with their finger.

Content Updates

Apple Arcade is almost as focused on keeping your favorite titles up to date as it is on new releases, and January will see patches for some of the service’s most popular titles:

  • whetstone — new biomes and more levels
  • Angry Birds Reloaded – a sci-fi themed makeover
  • Jetpack Joyride 2 — new story levels
  • Skate City — a new Pro Skate mode
  • Lego Star Wars: Shipwrecked
  • zookeeper world
  • What the gulf?
  • Subway Surfer Day
  • Distorted kart racers

What is Apple Arcade?

Apple Arcade is Apple’s subscription service that offers access to more than 200 games. All are available on iPhone and iPad, with some also playable on Apple TV and Mac computers. The service includes definitive versions of mobile hits like Jetpack Joyride 2, Cut the rope, fruit ninja, Angry Birds, The Oregon Trailand Crucifix roadas well as newer games like Fantastic, mini highways, NBA 2K23, What the gulf?and Wylde flowers. Apple promises that Apple Arcade games will never have ads or in-game purchases.

How much does Apple Arcade cost?

It costs $4.99 a month and is also part of Apple One, a bundle that comes with Apple Music, TV Plus, and iCloud for $16.95 a month for an individual, or $22.95 bundles for a family of five. Apple offers a one-month free trial for Apple Arcade, and users who buy a new Apple device can get three months free.

Is Apple Arcade worth it?

If you love playing games on your phone but dislike the ads and in-app purchases that have become synonymous with mobile gaming, then Arcade is worth checking out. It’s relatively cheap and carefully curated – the games included are of decent quality and cover the entire broad spectrum of mobile gaming, from narrative indie games to casual puzzlers, console-style role-playing games to children’s titles. It’s perhaps the best gaming subscription service for families, and it feels great to be completely free of microtransactions and ads.

However, it’s worth noting that the games catalog has a strong bias towards casual games and that Apple has struggled to find really exciting new exclusives for the service lately. If you’re looking for a steady stream of exciting new releases to justify the subscription fee, you might want it.