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Google to counter Apple Arcade with $5 ‘Play Pass’ subscription

Android users may soon get a mobile gaming subscription service too

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As Apple prepares to launch Arcade, a $5 a month gaming subscription service for iPhone and iPad users, Google appears to be working on a rival product.

Due to arrive by the fall, Apple Arcade is a monthly subscription which gives iOS users access to a range of games, including exclusive content not available on other platforms.

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Now, via screenshots sent anonymously to Android Police, it looks like Google is about to offer something very similar. Called Play Pass and priced at $4.99 a month, the as-yet unreleased service promises access to "hundreds of unlocked apps" with one monthly payment.

A noticeable difference between Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass is that the former is expected to only contain exclusive titles, which are not available to download or buy in any other way from the App Store (that is, without paying the $5 a month for Arcade). Meanwhile, the latter appears to contain apps and games already available separately in the Play Store.

The screenshots also show a 10-day free trial is available, and that games included in the package include Stardew Valley and Marvel Pinball. They also show that subscribers can cancel at any time, and a family plan is also available.

Another difference is that Apple Arcade will also work on the Apple TV and Macs, while it isn't yet known if Google Play Pass will work on anything other than Android phones and tablets.

According to the report, Google has acknowledged that Play Pass is being tested, but it isn't clear if this means the service will eventually become

As with Apple, this service looks to counter the current 'freemium' revenue model, where high-end games are often free to download, but require in-game purchases to get the most out of them, or to progress through the game more quickly.

But as well as gaming, Play Pass looks like it will offer to other premium apps, like music players and fitness trackers, for the same fee. In theory, this could give subscribers access to a game's in-app purchases for free, as well as the premium services offered in apps like fitness trackers.

An information page on the Play Pass screenshots reads: "Explore a curated catalogue 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."

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