Google is launching a new $5-per-month Play Pass subscription service for the Google Play Store, which gives subscribers full access to over 350 paid apps and games at launch with no upfront purchases, in-app purchases, or ads.
Google Play Pass is available starting on Monday for the US, and it'll become available to all Android users throughout the week. Play Pass will be coming to countries outside the US "soon." You'll be able to try out Google's Play Pass service with a 10-day free trial. And if you sign up in the first couple weeks after launch, Play Pass will cost $2 per month for 12 months before you're switched to the full $5 per month pricing.
Subscribers will also be able to share their Google Play Pass subscription with up to five family members at no extra cost.
Some of the more well-known apps and games available in Google's Play Pass at launch include "Stardew Valley," "Terraria," "Monument Valley," "Risk," "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic," Facetune, and AccuWeather. More apps and games will be added to Google's Play Pass service on a monthly basis. Games like "This War of Mine" and "Cytus" are also coming soon.
Google Play Pass vs. Apple Arcade
Unlike Apple's Arcade service, Google Play Store includes apps as well as games.
Also unlike Apple Arcade, Google's Play Pass doesn't include any exclusive games that are only available to play on Apple devices.
"Our intention is not to lock [users] into Android," Austin Shoemaker, a Google group product manager, told Business Insider. "We're just always looking for ways that we can make users happier and deliver them more value, and enable developers to successfully monetize their content and connect with users so that users and developers can win. And we think as long as we're doing that, Google will win too."
With that said, developers can choose to make their apps or games exclusive to the Google Play Pass program in the Google Play Store, but they're not required to do so.
What's in it for developers?
Through Google Play Pass, developers earn royalties based on the amount of time spent in their apps, and Google will be "continuously refining the model to make sure developers are rewarded fairly," Shoemaker said.
Developers also get useful and valuable data, too. Without the payment barrier, developers can see what features people like when they're not obstructed by paywalls. "It's all about trying to identify what content is really making users happy and delivering value so that they are satisfied with the overall experience," Shoemaker said.
And without a payment barrier, Shoemaker said that Play Pass can free developers from monetization pressures, and it gives them greater freedom to create better apps and experiences.
Without a payment barrier, Play Pass subscribers may be more willing to try lesser-known paid apps and games that they wouldn't have paid for out of uncertainty. Google highlighted certain less-familiar titles in its Play Pass announcement blog like "LIMBO," "Lichtspeer," "Mini Metro," and "Old Man's Journey."
Google Play Pass Subscribers will find a new Play Pass tab — it looks like a Google-branded movie ticket — on the bottom of the Google Play Store where they'll be able to browse apps and games. Apps and games in the Google Play Pass program will also have the Play Pass ticket symbol when you browse normally through the Google Play Store.