Rumors of a premium Play Store subscription service have been swirling around for nearly a year at this point. Today, Google finally officially unveiled Google Play Pass, which will launch this week. Like Apple Arcade, it will offer full access to hundreds of apps and games — without ads or in-app purchases — for a monthly subscription fee of $4.99.
Google Play Pass will initially only be available in the United States, but the Mountain View company has promised to add more countries soon. There’s a 10-day free trial available for those on the fence, plus a limited time discount of $1.99 a month if you commit to a full year of the service.
Google Play Pass: A new way to enjoy the Google Play Store
Mobile games and apps have largely devolved into ad- or microtransaction-filled experiences over the past few years. Google Play Pass seeks to offer a solution to that trend. A single subscription fee nets you access to more than 350 apps and games, with more added every month.
Unlike Apple Arcade games, non-subscribers can purchase Play Pass titles individually.
These aren’t just random apps that you’ve never heard of, either. Google has hand-picked them all, and the list includes some of the best premium apps and games on the Google Play Store. At launch, the list includes games like Terraria, Stardew Valley, Game Dev Tycoon, Reigns: GOT, and Monument Valley. Additionally, there are apps such as Accuweather, Photo Studio Pro, Facetune, and ISS Live Now available.
You can find Play Pass titles in a new tab on the Google Play Store, as seen below. If an app is included in the Play Pass, it will now feature a small ticket icon on the Google Play Store.
You can also share a Play Pass subscription with up to five family members, just like the Google Play Family Library. Combined with the selection of family-friendly games on the service, it’s a great way to make sure your kids can play games without being bombarded with ads.
What’s in it for developers?
In a follow-up blog post, Google outlined some of the benefits of Google Play Pass for developers. Unlike Apple Arcade, titles chosen for Play Pass can remain on the Google Play Store, so non-subscribers can purchase it separately or use the ad-supported version.
Play Pass is a huge opportunity for developers to create premium experiences.
It appears that revenue will be based on how much time subscribers spend with your app. There aren’t any concrete details on how this works, but considering the uphill battle any paid apps face, this represents a huge opportunity for developers to create truly premium experiences without worrying about monetization.
For most developers though, the main benefit is exposure. Having your app featured on the Play Pass tab in the Google Play Store is a sure-fire way to get it in front of millions of people around the world. Google promises that all it takes is a few minor changes to existing APKs.
Interested in having your app included in Play Pass? It’s currently invitation-only, but you can fill out this form and express interest in participating.
Will you be subscribing to Google Play Pass, or do you prefer ad-supported experiences? Let us know in the comments below!