Apple announced that Vision Pro-native versions of two popular iOS games are coming to Apple Arcade next month, Crossy Road Castle and Solitaire Stories, both of which put an immersive spin on inherently flatscreen gameplay.

Coming to Vision Pro on April 25th, Crossy Road Castle and Solitaire Stories seem to highlight how the company is directly supporting development of games on its first XR headset. First, a look at the games for the uninitiated:

Crossy Road Castle, created by Hipster Whale, tasks players with platforming their way through an endlessly spinning tower. Collect Everything. Unlock Crossy Chicken and friends. Dress up in silly hats.

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Launched in 2020, the co-op game originally targeted iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV, although the Vision Pro version is doing something a bit different. It still allows for co-op across those devices in addition to Vision Pro soon, but you’ll notice as you smash your way through levels, that coins and blocks fly out of the game’s window and onto the floor. The UI floats above makes full use of the free real estate too. Input is also entirely hand-tracking based.

Like Resolution Game’s Vision Pro-exclusive Game Box (2024), Solitaire Stories from Red Games on the other hand virtualizes solitaire by adding a new measure of three dimensions, putting the tabletop classic either into both an old timey-looking radio set sitting on your coffee table, or floating in the air in full 3D. Like Crossy Road Castle, Solitaire Stories is also a flatscreen native, supporting standard iOS devices and Apple TV when it launched on Apple Arcade in 2021.

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At least from a modern VR gamer’s perspective, the company appears to be promoting game development through its third-party app creators in a distinctly ‘backwards‘ fashion. In contrast, Meta and Pico have typically encouraged studios to create or port games with an emphasis on immersive environments, and, in the case of mixed reality, gameplay that dynamically uses your room.

Notably, a majority of games Apple promotes with its Apple Arcade game subscription service aren’t exclusive to Vision Pro, with the two sole Vision Pro-only titles marked in bold below:

Synth Riders by Kluge Interactive (also on Quest, SteamVR, PSVR 2)
Super Fruit Ninja by Halfbrick Studios (Fruit Ninja also on Quest, SteamVR, PSVR)
Jetpack Joyride 2 by Halfbrick Studios
Wylde Flowers by Studio Drydock
WHAT THE GOLF? by Triband
LEGO Builder’s Journey by LEGO
stitch. by Lykke Studios
Game Room by Resolution Games
Cut the Rope 3 by ZeptoLab
Patterned by BorderLeap
Illustrated by BorderLeap
Bloons TD 6+ by Ninja Kiwi Games

Everything else, like Crossy Road Castle and Solitaire Stories, started with 2D gameplay first, and then were later retrofitted to feel more at home in mixed reality. Granted, without controllers, which has stymied veteran VR developers from bringing their games to Vision Pro, it isn’t so much a ‘backwards’ move for Apple, but likely a different path of convergence.

Like with Samsung Gear VR, which was controlled by both a head-mounted touch pad and optional un-tracked touchpad remote, by default developers will need to engage users with the lowest of the low-hanging fruit first, which in both cases included cheap and cheerful titles that played squarely within the platform’s limitations. Still, it’s early days for Apple’s $3,500 headset, which should hopefully evolve the closer we get to its rumored second iteration.

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Whether Apple ever plans to support more ambitious immersive projects with Apple Arcade remains to be seen. Even with support for more pro-focused controllers like the recently patented stylus-style XR controller, the company may continue to sideline gaming until it’s too big to ignore. Or possibly later.

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