Google Play Pass is just a lazy response to Apple Arcade

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Google Play Pass is just a lazy response to Apple Arcade
OK, so Apple is diving headfirst into subscription services with News+, TV+, and Apple Arcade. The latter being a tab within the App Store, which is filled with games developed exclusively for iOS and held up to a high standard so that customers that pay $5 per month are always sure to find something nice in there.

Apple Arcade launched in September and not a week passed before Google also launched a subscription service — the Google Play Pass for $5 per month. No matter how you look at it, the timing and pricing just make it look like a direct response to Apple Arcade. And yes, one might argue that we’ve been hearing about Play Pass since late last year, but it would be silly to think that Apple wasn’t developing Arcade that far back, and it’s very probable that Google knew about it.

But there are some major differences between the type of content that the two services offer. To the point where one might wonder “Why do you exist, Play Pass?”. Let’s explore:

Investment in quality



Apple went above and beyond to secure exclusive deals with some talented developers and paid for entirely new games to be made specifically for Apple Arcade. According to reports, Cupertino fronted north of $500 million to get Arcade off the ground. And, as far as we can tell, some games might appear on consoles — like the Nintendo Switch — but will be exclusive to iOS when it comes to mobile.

Apple Arcade is on its second month now and we’ve seen a steady stream of quality titles being added each week. To the point that we are concerned that we might miss a cool game and how to keep up with all of them. So, while a subscription service to gain access to games is still an iffy concept, Apple at least tries hard to make it worth our while.

The Google Play Pass, on the other hand, doesn’t offer anything new or exclusive. When you pay for Play Pass you simply get access to some paid Android apps (or you get ad-free experience in others). They are the same apps that you can buy and keep forever or the same apps that you can download for free and use with ads in them.



And how do the developers get compensated? Well, instead of paying upfront for their software, Google will use an algorithm to evaluate how much customers “value” each of the apps. According to the company, this will not be solely based on “time spent in app”, since Google understands that users treat each app differently. Still, it’s a shaky, murked concept. And it doesn’t help that Google says it will “continuously refine the model” to make sure it rewards developers fairly. Uh, yeah, sounds reassuring...

Why would anyone buy in?


So, OK, Google Play Pass will offer you hundreds — if not thousands — of apps and games that would otherwise be paid for the low, low price of $5 per month $2 per month for the first year, $5 per month onwards. That’s hundreds of dollars worth of software for a pretty cheap monthly fee. If you cut the subscription, you lose access to those apps.

But let’s be realistic. You won’t be needing all of those apps. You probably won’t even want half of them. Some people will find value in one part of the Play Pass collection, others will prefer another part. And since the apps and games there are not exclusive — why not just buy what you want from the Play Store and not worry about the subscription? Why continue to cough up $5 every month when you can get the 10 premium apps you want for $50 and be done with it forever?


One major bonus is that Play Pass games won't have any in-app purchases (they will be free). We are not sure how that'd work with the balance of titles that have basically been designed around pushing IAPs. But at least parents can have some peace of mind, knowing that the games on there are really, really free to play. Well, that's all assuming that the kid plays something from the Play Pass collection. I'd wager a wild guess and say that Fortnite will probably never be on there.

Apple Arcade, on the other hand, has a more enticing hook. Don’t get me wrong — I certainly don’t believe that you will enjoy every game on there. Personally, I have 3 or 4 favorites right now that I chose to keep on my iPhone. But I keep going back every week to see what the new releases are. Even if this week’s game doesn’t tickle my fancy, I know for a fact that next week’s title will be another high-quality game that just might. If I cut my subscription, I lose access to my current favorites and I can’t follow the new releases so closely.



So, Apple has me hooked with fear of missing out. But — by pouring millions of dollars into exclusivity deals — it’s made sure that the games are, indeed, good. So I don’t feel that hollow feeling of being cheated out of my $5 on empty promises.

Tread lightly with subscription services


Subscription services are currently all the rage across multiple industries. Markets are heavily saturated and companies are trying to secure a new steady stream of revenue. We have gaming service subscriptions, TV show subscriptions, and now mobile app subscriptions.

Customers are quickly growing tired, wary, and even concerned with the plethora of subscriptions they might end up needing to keep tabs on. This is why it would be wise of companies to tread lightly and only put up a paywall when they have something of value to offer. But then, we get in this weird realm where everything is exclusive. Want to watch The Boys, See, and BoJack Horseman? That'll be a subscription for Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Netflix.

On one hand, this feels anti-consumer. On the other, many of these shows wouldn't exist if the cutthroat competition didn't pressure these companies into experimenting with and pushing niche content. Apple Arcade feels the same way — these are some very high quality games, some are pretty experimental, others stick to known formulas but do them well. Getting something quirky, fun, and well-made to play with each week makes the $5 per month worth it.

Google Play Pass just feels like a lazy, “Slap $5 on it and ship it out!” response. It’s the personification of redundant subscription services. At least in its current form it is. You don’t know what apps will be added on there, you don’t know if there will be a steady stream of new content. Developers get paid by an algorithm, which may or may not be fair in its distribution. And even if it is right now — something might get flubbed up in the future, since Google will be “continuously refining it”.

Now, for the first year of subscription, Google only asks for $2 per month, which is a "Yeah, whatever" price. I'd even encourage those that are curious to give it a chance. But, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, it doesn't look like the valuable offer Google wants us to think it is.

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38 Comments

1. IAMBLCKJ3ZUS

Posts: 432; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

Why use the image of the pixel and iPhone making it look like the narrative that the pixel is lazy versus iPhone, instead of using play pass image and Apple arcade? Play pass is a quick response that was pushed early and will be polished as the months pass. You could argue and say Xbox game pass is superior and Apples is lazy. The bias is strong. Change the narrative to how you can improve the service and not insult it. I'll need talk Sundar about this.

3. TadTrickle

Posts: 99; Member since: Apr 08, 2019

You sound like an insecure pixel owner

7. IAMBLCKJ3ZUS

Posts: 432; Member since: Sep 29, 2015

No I'm very secure but constructive criticism doesn't start by calling something lazy. You don't have to compare to push a narrative, you just say how you could enhance what's already been established.

9. toukale

Posts: 668; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

@IAMBLCKJ3ZUS - Completely agree, but how else do you expect to get clicks otherwise? Here is what I noticed about web interactions. It seems the most consistent thing about the web is to take anything (issues, news, interactions etc...) and amplify it up like its the end of world. The blogs and youtube of the world are very good at that. I brings the worsts out of folks and of course generate more clicks, which in turn generate more revenues. Those things are not by accidents.

47. mackan84

Posts: 616; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

"This is just a lazy article to get clickbait"

13. Alcyone

Posts: 542; Member since: May 10, 2018

I agree the bias here is strong. It has been for quite a long time. They still have yet to even mention the U1 chips that have started to fail. I'm not too surprised anymore, and that's what is really lazy.

20. Tizo101

Posts: 597; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

Don't worry they'll start talking about it once another rushed update is available... While on Android things are calm and they wondered why we are okay slower updates.

51. JC557

Posts: 1925; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

this site is ignoring all the issues with iOS 13 with the latest problems being found on the just released 13.1.3. From outright hardware failures to dropped calls. I'll take Android any day over iOS at this point and will be going back to my Pixel 2 XL or buy a Galaxy S10+ and either sell my XR or relegate it to the junk drawer.

2. Poptart2828

Posts: 459; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

They both offer the same thing. Paying 5 bucks a month on Google pass is fair. Real gamers play on consoles. Playing on a phone is very limited so the pricing is decent. This article has no ground to stand on. At the end of the day, both companies are offering you a subscription for the same amount. Both offering thousands of games to play.

38. cheetah2k

Posts: 2294; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Correction, "real" gamers play on PC ;)

45. LordDavon

Posts: 172; Member since: Sep 19, 2011

"Console Gamers" play on consoles. "PC Gamers" play on PC. A "real" gamer is someone who cares about the game, not how they are playing it. Real gamers play on anything and everything they can get their game addicted hands on.

48. whatev

Posts: 2396; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Your comment deserves a trillion thumbs up, I don’t understand that stupid attitude from pc gamers to make fun of players from other platforms

4. toukale

Posts: 668; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Here is the common thing I noticed about Google. Anything that requires hard, painstaking work with long term commitment they failed at. They do not have the stomach to endure anything that requires long term commitment and hard work. For example, Google fiber is a perfect example of this, they waved the white towel the moment things got hard. Its like no one bother to do their homework before they committed to the project. They acted like they were cut-off guard the way the ISP's responded. That's one main difference between them and Apple. Apple usually take their time before they commit to anything, but when they do, they typically commit long term and stick with it. It shows they did their homework and know what to expect. It's that level of commitment that I as a user like about them. Everything Google introduce I take a wait and see approach, I've been burned too many times by their lack of commitment.

5. Xavier1415

Posts: 216; Member since: Feb 26, 2012

hello welcome to Ios 13 where it took apple long and hard work to make it great. it wasnt pushed out or rushed at all.....................

33. wickedwilly

Posts: 741; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

and ios & 8 &9 ....... and Google Maps and, and .....

41. TS020

Posts: 60; Member since: Feb 16, 2019

Hello Homepod.

43. Deadeye

Posts: 131; Member since: Jul 26, 2019

Correction - real gamers have both console and PC.

10. Alcyone

Posts: 542; Member since: May 10, 2018

Android users who know anything about Google opinion rewards have the upper hand. A person can get $5 easy in one month by answering simple 2-3 question surveys. It's money that has to be spent in the play store to begin with. Rewards never expire as long as a user keeps doing surveys. Imo, that's ideal enough to keep th $5 a month subscription. Too bad Apple doesn't have a similar program. Just my opinion.

15. photo3

Posts: 30; Member since: Mar 11, 2016

Its been my experience any time any company gives you something for free, they are making up for it some where else. Data mining vs just pay the 5 bucks . If a company has something to offer of great value, they don’t have to give free things away.

29. Alcyone

Posts: 542; Member since: May 10, 2018

As soon as a person agrees to use any android phone with GAPPS they already agreed to mining. Read the terms and conditions Google has supplied. The cat is outta the bag at that point. Why not get paid for it? Google assistant gets smarter in part of the feedback from rewards program. That may explain why its the smartest, most accurate and quickest of all. Google does aquire revenue from data, that much is giving. Apple, Samsung, etc, all generate revenue from user info. Should be common knowledge at this point in time.

11. VariableCheapskate

Posts: 191; Member since: May 29, 2019

both services are normie trash anyways

40. cheetah2k

Posts: 2294; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Agreed. Both are utter rubbish

19. MsPooks

Posts: 214; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

I didn't even think it was worth the $2/month offer, so I passed. Prefer to just pay once, for exactly what I want.

22. lyndon420

Posts: 6868; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Google's Play Pass might be a good way to sample a bunch of games before commiting to actually purchasing them. I think 5 bucks per month for a couple months isn't a bad idea if all you're wanting to do is find some games that you really like before actually committing to buying them outright.

25. Rocket

Posts: 698; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Do we even need any of those services?

27. Jrod99

Posts: 778; Member since: Jan 15, 2016

So your saying Google Play Pass is a pass? Got it.

28. MsPooks

Posts: 214; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

Well played. :-D

32. Blazers

Posts: 764; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

I have to agree. Any paid app that I really wanted, I would have bought already, or through Google rewards. The pass seems very half-assed.

36. cmdacos

Posts: 4313; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Apple arcade rumors started Jan 2019 where as Play Pass was rumored in Oct / Nov 2018. It's not a lazy response when it was in development ahead or at least around the same time. It's a lazy implementation. I know this is an opinion piece but at least do a little research.

42. paul.k

Posts: 302; Member since: Jul 17, 2014

Yeah and Google only has the rumors in the press to go on. It really, totally did not know that Apple Arcade is coming. Come on.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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