In this week’s gaming news, GameStop announced its plans to close up to 200 stores, Apple released final details of its Apple Arcade, and EA opened a technical trial of its upcoming cloud gaming service Project Atlas.

GameStop to close up to 200 store locations
In an effort to expand profitability, GameStop announced on Tuesday that the company will be closing between 180 and 200 “underperforming” store locations across the globe by the end of the fiscal year. The announcement comes after the company posted what CNBC is calling “dismal second quarter earnings.” The latest GameStop news follows a chain of similar announcements from the retailer. GameStop experienced half a billion dollars worth of losses in 2018, has seen a 60% drop in stock rates year-to-date, quietly let go of 50 regional managers in July, and later let go of an additional 120 US employees – including half of its Game Informer editorial staff – in August. USA Today, Business Insider, Fast Company, and more covered the news and mentioned that additional stores will be shut down over the next two years. In an ode to GameStop, Kotaku senior reporter Cecilia D’Anastasio summed up the perception of GameStop in 2019 in a personal essay saying, “Like a drug store or a supermarket, GameStop has become more of a utility provider than something a teen might wrap their identity around.”

Apple Arcade game subscription service to launch next week; Google counters with announcement of Google Play Pass
During this week’s keynote, Apple released details about its upcoming Apple Arcade game subscription service. Launching on September 19, the service will cost $4.99 a month and will be available in 150 countries for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV with iOS 13. Apple Arcade will act as a standalone app and will not be included in the Apple App Store. The service will come with 100 exclusive, ad-free titles at launch, reports GameSpot and Variety, from studios such as Konami, Capcom, Annapurna, and many more. New titles will be added to the service monthly. Outlets such as Engadget and TechRadar are not convinced that the service will be a wide success, however, cautioning that the lack of AAA titles will not entice the gaming community – who already pay for console or PC streaming services such as PlayStation Plus or Xbox Game Pass – to cough up an additional $5 a month.

Shortly before Apple’s keynote this week, Google teased their own game subscription service for Android, called Google Play Pass. Google’s official Twitter page said that the service is “coming soon,” but no additional details have been released. The Verge and Engadget both speculated that the service will mirror Apple Arcade and cost $5 a month and provide ad-free gameplay. The speculations come after early screenshots of the service leaked from Android Police back in July. 

EA launches Cloud Gaming Technical Trial
EA surprised select PC EA Origin users with a closed technical trial of its upcoming cloud gaming service, Project Atlas, this week. Participants of the closed trial can try FIFA 19, Titanfall 2, Need for Speed Rivals, and Unravel for two weeks in order to measure performance and quality. While EA has yet to release specific details or the launch date of the service, EA CTO Ken Moss explained in a statement that the service will enable users to play games, “anyplace, anywhere, anytime” and across “all devices.” The Verge explained that EA’s decision to host a closed trial puts the company ahead of the growing cloud gaming service competition, such as Google’s Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud, by offering users the ability to test the service in the “real-world” ahead of launch. CNET, VentureBeat, TNW and more reported on the news.