Google begins testing its own ‘Game Pass’-like subscription

Google has begun testing its own all-you-can-eat subscription service similar to Xbox Game Pass and Apple Arcade.

XDA Developers found evidence of such a subscription last year, but until now any further news had gone quiet.

A screenshot of a signup page for Play Pass was sent to Android Police. The subscription markets itself as: "All play, no interruptions. Access hundreds of premium apps and games, with no ads or in-app purchases."

The US pricing for Play Pass appears to be set at $4.99 per month.

Subscription services have become more popular in recent years as they help to solve multiple problems:

  • Discovery – Unlimited access helps users to try new games and apps they otherwise wouldn't have.

  • No ads or in-app purchases – Developers sometimes need to implement ads or in-app purchases to make money from a freemium release. The experience is damaged as a result, which is neither what the user wants nor the developer after their hard work.

  • Funding – In an increasingly cutthroat industry, gaining funding to pursue a vision can be difficult. Subscriptions like Xbox Game Pass have shown how even smaller developers can access funding to bring their big ideas to life.

An info page for Play Pass reads: "Explore a curated catalog spanning puzzle games to premium music apps and everything in between. From action hits to puzzles and fitness trackers, with Google Play Pass you unlock access to hundreds of premium apps and games without ads, download fees or in-app purchases." 

A screenshot shows Marvel Pinball and Stardew Valley as two of the included games in Play Pass. Google will likely have to secure a few exclusives to really sell Play Pass, just as it will with its new Stadia game streaming subscription.

Whether a subscription service is viable on Android remains to be seen. It's well-known that Android users on average spend much less than their iOS counterparts, but we hope Play Pass is successful in helping developers gain a bit more visibility and money in their pockets from users of Google's platform.

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