Google launches its own game subscription platform

Anne Freier

In App Business. September 30, 2019

Google has launched a mobile game subscription service for avid gamers. Called Google Play Pass, users can subscribe for just $4.99 per month to access more than 350 exclusive ad-free and in-app purchase-free games.

Users will be able to trial the service free of charge for 10 days and then be charged $1.99 per month for the first year.

The move follows Apple’s recent launch of Apple Arcade, a game subscription service charging $4.99 a month. But Google Play is slightly different because it also offers apps (e.g. AccuWeather) – not just games (e.g. Stardew Valley and Limbo)

The apps that are part of Play Pass will continue to be available for purchase via the Play Store. Any apps a user has already purchased that are currently ad-supported will become ad-free once s/he subscribes.

So how will users know if an app is part of the subscription service? Google has added a small colour icon next to apps that are part of Play Pass.

For families, the subscription provides access for up to five members. Parental controls can be adjusted. The removal of ads spells good news for parents and users concerned about fraudulent ads and malware.

Google said it will be compensating developers via user engagement, although it’s not clear what that means exactly. But right now, it’s an invite-only service for developers. Anyone can express their interest in joining, but ultimately Google makes the selection.

The service is being rolled out initially in the US, before launching worldwide.

There’s great potential for apps to become part of a subscription model – the Netflix for gaming so to speak. As long as developers can be compensated in a way they are happy with, subscriptions may pave the way for future app market success.