It feels like a lifetime has passed since WWDC 2019 in early June, when Apple announced Apple Arcade, a monthly subscription service that gives users access to a curated list of games on the App Store. Now, while people continue to wait for Apple Arcade to go live later this fall, it seems Google is testing out something similar with its $5-a-month Google Play Pass.
Previously, there was evidence Google was cooking up its own subscription app service, but according to recent screenshots shared with Android Police, it appears Google is finally testing out its Play Pass for real.
However, there are some important differences between Apple Arcade and the reported Google Play Pass. Instead of being a curated selection of games available exclusively to Apple Arcade subscribers, Google’s Play Pass looks to include both games and other services including premium music apps and even fitness trackers.
Additionally, it seems apps unlocked by the Play Pass won’t be exclusive to the service, as the Play Pass reportedly grants access to titles already available on the Play Store such as Stardew Valley and Marvel Pinball. So what you’d really be paying for is the ability to eliminate ads, unlock all in-app purchases, and remove any other fees that might typically be associated with selected apps.
While the Play Pass’ $5 monthly fee could potentially change before its official launch, Google’s new subscription service looks like an interesting alternative for people who want to side-step the vicious cycle of apps with freemium or free-to-play business models, which are often loaded up with in-app purchases.
And if the Play Pass is successful, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google bundle Play Pass alongside other Google services like YouTube Premium, YouTube Music, and YouTube TV as the tech industry continues to lean into services with monthly subscriptions as a way to generate reliable revenue streams.
Either way, we’ll be keeping an eye out for more official news about Google’s Play Pass, particularly as we move into the fall when Google typically hosts a big product launch event.