Subscription services are all the rage these days, and Google is the latest company to get in on the action, with Android Police reporting that the company has already started testing a new Play Pass subscription service that offers “hundreds of premium apps and games” with no ads or in-app purchases for a flat monthly fee.
The leaked screenshots that Android Police received from a reader show some of the details of the service, and they sound extremely similar to the upcoming Apple Arcade subscription, which was announced earlier this year.
Customers pay a monthly $4.99 fee for unlimited access to a catalog of premium apps and games without any ads and all of the in-app purchases unlocked. (The screenshots show titles like Monument Valley, Knights of the Old Republic, Threes, Limbo, Stardew Valley, Ticket to Ride, Marvel Pinball, and more available on the service.) The screenshots also show that a family plan is in the works, although it will likely cost more than the base $4.99 price.
Google’s service does differ from Apple’s in a few ways: Arcade is only focused on games, and all of the available titles will have at least some exclusivity to Apple’s service, spanning iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and Apple TV. Apple’s service will also include a family plan by default, although there’s no word yet on what Apple Arcade will cost on a monthly basis.
Play Pass, on the other hand, seems to offer access to an existing catalog of games and apps that are already on the Google Play Store. Given Android’s well-known piracy problem, combined with the fact that iOS users tend to spend more on apps than their Android counterparts, it’s harder to sell successful premium apps on Android. A subscription service that promises the best of the Play Store at a flat fee could help solve those issues.
Despite the scope of the leak, the Play Pass service is apparently only in testing and has yet to be formally announced by Google, meaning details could change between now and launch — if it ever launches at all. But assuming it is real, Apple Arcade might face a serious competitor when it’s released later this year.