After an August reveal of its intentions, Google has opened the door on Google Play Pass, a $5/mo subscription service for Android phones that unlocks access to a whopping 350 games and apps. The move follows Apple’s much ballyhooed dive into its own mobile gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade, which launched last week at the same monthly price point.
Google’s service will go live exclusively on Android phones in the United States on a rolling basis “this week.” In order to access Google Play Pass, you’ll have to wait for your Android device’s Play Store app to update with a new “Play Pass” toggle in its hamburger menu. Once you have access, your account can claim a free 10-day trial and then begin paying only $2/mo for the service’s first 12 months, so long as you start paying by October 10.
Google has yet to release a formal list of compatible Play Pass software, but its “games and apps” designation already confirms an effort to step outside the “games only” reputation that its rival Apple Arcade currently enjoys. For now, the revealed list includes popular and critically acclaimed games like Stardew Valley, Terraria, Thimbleweed Park, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, 80 Days, Monument Valley 2, Limbo, Mini Metro, Death Squared, and Hidden Folks, along with productivity apps AccuWeather and Pic Stitch.
Once Play Pass is available, participating games and apps will include a multi-colored ticket icon in their store listings. By paying for Play Pass, these apps become wholly free to download and use—and they will have all ads and microtransactions disabled, so any extra tidbits in a game or app can simply be downloaded and accessed without fears of auto-playing videos or $1-a-pop charges after the fact.
It’s currently unclear whether any participating games will wind up having multiple entries in the Google Play marketplace—meaning, say, a normal free or paid version with microtransactions enabled and then a Play Pass version with those annoyances completely cleared for subscribers. A peek at Google’s current, incomplete list includes “special edition” and “full” as taglines for certain participating apps, which could hint to app-listing splinters to come.
Unlike Apple Arcade, the service doesn’t include any app debuts, and it sounds like Google is not currently soliciting timed exclusives for the service or funding any game or app development. Apple’s and Google’s new subscription services do have one nice thing in common: Google Play Pass supports family account sharing (in Play Pass’ case, for “up to five other family members”).
Listing image by Google