I'm not a gamer but when I do play a game, I like them short, simple and sweet. Mario Kart, Fruit Ninja, these are my kind of games. Minimal learning curve, just swipe the fruit or press the button to go. I have enough complicated problems to debug and decipher in my normal life without having to "entertain" myself with a game that's a complicated, infinitely complex puzzle. I want something that gives me a short break from thinking.
The other night, I went to play Fruit Ninja on my phone...old school I know. I opened it up and it started popping up annoying and irrelevant advertisements. I could have sworn that this game was on Apple's subscription game service, Apple Arcade...and that ads and unfriendly user behavior like this was banned! What gives!? A bit of investigation made me realize that the games is on Apple Arcade under an Apple-esque name like Fruit Ninja Classic+ Pro Max Ultra. But for some reason it wasn't on my phone. I could have sworn I'd played it before. Who deleted it?
So I went and downloaded the game again - the App Store button for an Apple Arcade game says "Play" and not "Get" - a hint as to what happened to it. I opened the game and my score was still there! So I wasn't hallucinating, I had played the game before. Curious if anything happened to the 2 or 3 other Apple Arcade games I'd tried over the past year, I went to checkout the Arcade category where these games lived. Totally empty, except for the Fruit Ninja I'd just downloaded.
It turns out that if you sign out of the App Store to sign in to your account in a different country/region/market/economy for even 30 seconds to download an app not available in your main App Store, Apple helpfully deletes all of your Apple Arcade games for you. And doesn't tell you.
This isn't really that much of a surprise to me since Apple helpfully also deletes all of your downloaded music without telling you when doing the same thing. I'm helpfully reminded of this about three minutes after takeoff on every single flight when I find out that I have no music to listen to except for the half a dozen songs I bought on iTunes pre-iPhone a decade and a half ago.
Why do they do this? Well we have Digital Rights Management, DRM, a user-hostile technology that ensures customers who pay for digital content have a worse experience than those that figure out how to copy it without paying.
An easy solution for Apple would be to add support for multiple App Store accounts signed in at once. I can only assume that they don't do this because people that live in Cupertino don't cross borders and operate in different markets very frequently. (As I write this, I'm on about a train about 30 minutes from crossing a border into another market)
An even easier solution would be to warn users when they sign out that doing this will delete all of their downloaded music, so that people know to go re-download it. Or they could just keep letting us find out our music and games are gone just after takeoff on our 17 hour flights. Until now, I'll be stuck listening to that old DRM-free Avril Lavigne song on repeat I bought back when Steve Jobs was still alive on every flight.