Technology

Google Tests Subscription Service For Premium Apps And Games

Google Play Pass
krapalm / Pixabay

It was reported last year that Google was working on an Apple Arcade-like subscription service that would allow users to access premium apps and games. Now it is almost confirmed that the search giant is testing such a service called Google Play Pass.

Android Police shared screenshots of the service sent by an anonymous user, suggesting it could be close to launch. It seems Google is currently testing the service with a limited number of users. Google later confirmed it was testing such a service in an email to the tech site.

The screenshots shared show that the service will offer users a free trial for 10 days and cost $4.99 per month after that. However, Android Police notes that the price of the service may change when it finally launches. Moreover, the prices and content offerings will likely vary by country.

As of now not many details about the content Google Play Pass will offer are available, but the screenshots showed apps such as Stardew Valley, Marvel Pinball and Limbo.

“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,” the screenshot reads.

There is no information on if Google Play Pass will be available on other form factors such as Android TV.

With this new subscription service, Google aims to take on the upcoming Apple Arcade, which will offer subscription-based access to premium games and apps. Also with the new subscription service, the search giant wants to take a bigger share of app revenues, which are currently dominated by Apple.

Apps are a significant source of revenue for both Google and Apple. According to Sensor Tower, about $39.7 billion was spent on apps in the first half of this year, an increase of over 15% from the same period last year. Of the $39.7 billion, Google’s Play Store only accounted for $14.2 billion, and the remaining $25.5 billion went to Apple. However, in terms of volume the Play Store is way ahead of the App Store with 42 billion first-time app installs compared to 14.8 billion for the App Store during the same period.

As far as individual apps, the report noted that Tinder and Netflix, with revenues of $497 million and $399 million, respectively, were the highest-grossing non-game apps on both the App Store and Play Store. Netflix was the highest-grossing app previously, but revenues dropped after it removed subscriptions from the iOS app.

Games accounted for $29.6 billion in revenue across both stores. The top-grossing games were Honor Of Kings, Candy Crush Saga, and PUBG Mobile. These numbers from Sensor Tower do not include revenues from third-party Android app stores in China.

Apple Arcade is a mobile and Mac gaming subscription service which will bring the best App Store apps to users for a monthly fee. The Arcade service was unveiled with more than 100 titles, such as Beneath a Steel Sky. The list of games offered by the service will be curated by experts and updated monthly.

“You can try whatever you want, whenever you want,” Apple said.

Moreover, the games offered will include original releases from popular creators such as Ken Wong, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Will Wright and more.

All the games available on the service will be available offline as well. This means subscribers won’t have to worry about losing their progress in case of an unstable mobile connection. The service will support iPad, iPhone, Mac and Apple TV, and users will be able to pick up a game on another device without losing any progress.

Apple’s Arcade subscription service will be released in the fall, probably between September and November. Apple has confirmed that at launch, the service will support about 150 regions. The service will give subscribers an ad-free experience. There won’t be any ad-supported version at the launch, and there is no information on if Apple has any plans to offer such a version.

“Apple Arcade games will be great for families, respect user privacy and will not have ads or require any additional purchases. We think players of all ages are going to love Apple Arcade,” Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said of the service previously.

Apple has not yet announced pricing details for the service. More information is expected around the iPhone launch event, which traditionally happens in September.