Google Play Pass Details

Google Play Pass

Google sure isn’t messing about trying to keep Apple Arcade from getting ahead, announcing it will launch this week. But at the same time, with the full details released by Google yesterday, we now know that Google Play Pass and Apple Arcade aren’t all that similar, despite definitely being competitors.

Here’s what we now know: 

  • Play Pass is a $4.99/m subscription service for access to 350+ unlocked Android apps and games, with a 10-day free trial. The first year will be $1.99/m until October 10th, 2019.
  • A Play Pass subscription can be shared with up to five other family members.
  • It’s US-only, for now.
  • There are no exclusives, and all apps via Play Pass are free of ads, along with those deeply problematic in-app purchases. The regular apps will still be present for non-Play Pass subscribers - there’s no lock-in for a Play Pass bundle only.
  • For developers and makers, nothing has to change. Google will dole out revenue to developers based on how much time subscribers spend with each app.

What's in it?:

  • Those 350+ apps and games?
  • We on’t know the full list yet, but the premium games list includes the likes of Terraria, Stardew Valley, Game Dev Tycoon, Reigns: GOT, and Monument Valley 2.
  • On the apps front is a much shorter list from what we know so far: Accuweather, Photo Studio Pro, Facetune, and ISS Live Now, for now.
  • More on that here, with more apps and games being added as they are confirmed.

What matters:

  • Subscription everything is the new model, which shouldn’t be a surprise.
  • The US-only launch is somewhat of a surprise. Google does this a bit with new services, but Android’s spread isn’t limited to its home market, and Apple Arcade did go live in 150+ countries simultaneously.
  • One big problem for Google is that Android hasn’t generated as much money for developers when compared to Apple/iOS.
  • The pirate scene of sideloading modded APKs, despite the risks of malware and the inconveniences of feature updates, is very active.
  • Pirating music was easier until good subscriptions emerged, and Play Pass may offer a way for Android users to fork out.
  • But it’ll have to be constantly updated and offering the latest and greatest apps, not just a list of already-popular apps/games.
  • That’s what differentiates the service from Apple Arcade mosts, along with the exclusives angle Apple is going for.

Oh, and will this encourage people to try more apps and games? The last check, via comScore, the majority of US smartphone owners downloaded zero apps.


  • I can’t say if it’s a game-changer yet, because we don’t know how it will impact developers who need to make money to survive.
  • But anyone who plays mobile games should snap that introductory deal up, and it’s definitely something I’d try it for $2 a month, with the 10-day free trial, while $5 p/m is an acceptable regular price point as well.
  • I’ll be hoping it grows to encapsulate a lot more apps as well, to really make smartphones more useful in an obvious way.

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