Google strikes back with game subscription service

Apple, Gaming, News

Google is offering a new subscription service for apps and games on Android devices days after Apple launched a similar service.

Google Play Pass will cost $5 a month, and give subscribers access to 350 games and apps. It will cost $2 a month for the first year in an introductory offer.

Android devices with Android 4.4 (known as KitKat) or later will support Play Pass.

Available apps range from puzzle games like Monument Valley and strategy titles like Risk, to apps including AccuWeather and Facetune. New apps and games will be added every month.

There are some key differences with Apple Arcade. Apple’s $5 month service, which launched with iOS13 on Thursday, consists of games developed exclusively for the service — if they are in Apple Arcade they cannot be in the app store.

The apps in Google’s service are already available for purchase in the Play store, so users can determine if they would rather shell out a few dollars to own a game or spend about the same amount to have monthly access to many games and apps.

Both services are similar in that they will have no ads or in-app purchases. Mobile game makers are trying out subscription services as an alternative to the traditional way mobile games make money, either by a purchase price, ads or, increasingly, in-game purchases.

Both services require users to download each game they want to try out. Subscribers have access to the games until they cancel their subscription.

Google has been making a push into video games. Its console-free video-streaming service Stadia is rolling out later this year.

Chris Price
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