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Google Play Pass bundles 350 Android games and apps for $4.99 per month

Bullet Club

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Google Play Pass bundles 350 Android games and apps for $4.99 per month

No ads, no in-app purchases. $1.99 introductory price

Today, Google is launching a new service called “Google Play Pass,” which for $4.99 per month gives Android users access to over 350 games and apps which will be served ad free and without any in-app purchases. Google will give users 10 days free and is also planning on offering the first year at $1.99 per month. It will be available in the US this week and other countries “soon.”

Google’s take on the app subscription model is a little different from Apple, which just last week launched Apple Arcade, its $4.99 games subscription service. Firstly, Google Play pass includes apps as well as games. Secondly, Google isn’t directly funding development their development nor demanding exclusivity.

At launch, all of the apps and games included in Google Play Pass were already available on the Play Store and will continue to be available as standalone purchases (or ad-supported). If you’ve previously installed any app that’s included in the service and sign up, your current app should automatically have its ads removed and its in-app purchases unlocked.

In a demo, Google showed me a game that normally would have an in-app purchase for an expansion pack — but as a part of Play Pass, it was simply free. The Google Play Store will soon begin showing a small, multi-colored ticket next to apps that are included in the Play Pass bundle, showing subscribers that it’s free and enticing non-subscribers to sign up.

Google says roughly two thirds of the apps included in Play Pass are games, including longtime favorites like Stardew Valley, Monument Valley, Limbo, and Risk. In other words, they include a mix of indie and institutional developers. Similarly, the non-game apps include biggies like AccuWeather and smaller, well-loved Android apps like Hi-Q recorder. I haven’t seen a full list yet, but other notable games that I noticed include Star Wars: KOTOR, Mini Metro, Old Man’s Journey, and Eloh.

Play Pass subscriptions can be shared with up to five family members and also integrate with Google’s parental controls for the Play Store. Unlike Apple, Google isn’t requiring more stringent privacy standards from apps included in Play Pass — though the removal of all ads is a big step forward for many of them.

Also unlike Apple, Google was willing to share at least a little about how it plans to pay developers: via user “engagement” with the apps. What precisely that entails is not entirely clear yet — Google says it’s more than simply tracking screen time or number of opens per week.

Developers may balk at their income being handled by another algorithm, but then again the state of Android apps is such that anything that brings in money at all would be a big improvement for Android developers. The platform has a reputation for doing a worse job of monetizing apps than iOS, after all.

Fortunately, developers shouldn’t need to do a lot of work to make their apps compatible with Google Play Pass. The company says that as long as apps use standard APIs for ads and in-app purchases, it should be a simple switchover — either way, developers shouldn’t need to ship two separate versions of their app.

Google says that the program is “invite only,” but will put up a web form where developers who want to participate can “express interest in participating.” A company representative also waved off my question about how it’s quite a coincidence that Google Play Pass comes within a week of Apple Arcade, saying that it had been in the works for some time and was simply ready for launch now. Although Google wouldn’t speak about specifics, I was told that long-term the intention is for Play Pass to make money — it’s not Google subsidizing apps.

I, along with many others, have been thinking about the potential implications of app stores switching to subscription bundles. For games, it could motivate developers to make stuff that’s less scammy, moving them away from in-app purchases that prey on the weak points in our psychology. In that sense, both Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass could be literal game changers.

But the longer-term implications are potentially bigger. Patricia Hernandez sees a potential future where apps sink to a “Netflix” level of quality where “The content doesn’t need to be ‘good,’ just good enough.” For both Apple and Android, that may be a champagne problem — right now it seems much more important to find a way to extract games from the in-app purchase gutter.

After that, who knows? Google Play Pass has the potential to be a very big deal for the Android app ecosystem. It includes both apps and games — I know for a fact that if I signed up I’d be more likely to use a weather app that’s included than one that’s not.

That puts more power in Google’s hands to pick winners and losers. But if Play Pass is even moderately successful, it could also put more money in developers’ pockets.

Source: The Verge
 
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Clear

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And there goes the knife to the heart for any app developer not working on a game laden with mtx and f2p transactions... Give it up, its over.
 
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Lupin3

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If this is the way garbage mobile game monetization is ended (or at least curved), I’ll welcome the subscription model.

Can't see why it would be, since those "games" are free anyway. But hey, nobody would be happier than me if that crap went to hell and died two times over.
 
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Shagger

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Just because something costs little in terms of money spent, doesn't mean that it is worth it in terms of time spent. Wasting your time without raping your wallet is literally the best mobile gaming can get, and that still isn't very good.
 
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Newly Vacant

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I signed up for Apple Arcade, and I’m enjoying a couple of the games. I usually hate mobile games, but Mini Motorways and Overland are pretty fun. I mean, I don’t know how much I’d enjoy Game Pass or a Sony-equivalent, but for mobile games the subscription price is a trade-off I’m willing to make.
 

Sentenza

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Did you ever just wish you could Professor X Cerebro into everybody's mind in the world and tell them "do not go down this path"? But then you can't, and you just know that things are about to get a whole lot worse? That's what reading this invokes in me.
That's basically the feeling with ANY of the major trends in the gaming industry in the last few years.

"No, don't buy that useless overpriced bullshit, you'll encourage companies to do it more and more."
"No, let that DLC on its digital shelf. JESUS CHRIST MATE, you don't need that cosmetic either!"
"Let the initiative fail! Loot boxes are not as "fun" as your addiction is suggesting you, you fucking autistic whale"
"NO, DO NOT ENCOURAGE EACH PUBLISHER TO GET HIS OWN LAUNCHER/STORE, we will never see the end of it if you let pass the message it's a good idea!" etc, etc.

You know, not to brag about it, but if it was up to me every single one of these things would have failed badly from the get go. I blame you people.
And I say "not to brag about it" because there's nothing to brag about. There's nothing noble about it. I call it just trying to not be a complete sucker.
 

SonGoku

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I signed up for Apple Arcade, and I’m enjoying a couple of the games. I usually hate mobile games, but Mini Motorways and Overland are pretty fun. I mean, I don’t know how much I’d enjoy Game Pass or a Sony-equivalent, but for mobile games the subscription price is a trade-off I’m willing to make.
2 games is a fair trade-off? might as well buy those
 

Reon

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Most mobile games are so bad I would rather just take those few minutes of free time I would spend playing them and sleep instead. Most of the games that are available through this service that are worth their salt are available on PC too, which is something I'd actually rather play it on. What's the point?
 

jshackles

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And 340 of them are all gacha games.
But part of the draw here is that Google is offering it's subscribers free in-game purchases as well. Meaning those gacha draws would all be free for subscribers...
 

Harlock

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For parents is great, because is hard to get Android games, even the paid ones, that don't have some form of bullshit inside.
 

zeorhymer

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But part of the draw here is that Google is offering it's subscribers free in-game purchases as well. Meaning those gacha draws would all be free for subscribers...
That would suck for companies. If they make thousands more from the gatcha stuff compared to whatever it is Google is paying, not quite sure why they would join.
 
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jshackles

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That would suck for companies. If they make thousands more from the gatcha stuff compared to whatever it is Google is paying, not quite sure why they would join.
If Google doesn't have a mechanism in place to pay developers what they believe would be their fair share, then I suspect a lot of these F2P and gacha games will quickly drop off of the service offerings.

Sounds like a win to me.
 

Newly Vacant

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2 games is a fair trade-off? might as well buy those
I mean, optimally, yes. The problem is that games like the two I mentioned might not exist in the mobile space without investment from Apple (or Google.) I can’t stand most mobile games primarily because of the predatory monetization schemes. If a subscription is the only good way to combat that, then I’ll pay the subscription.
 

Iorv3th

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But part of the draw here is that Google is offering it's subscribers free in-game purchases as well. Meaning those gacha draws would all be free for subscribers...

No that is not what they said. It said for an expansion. Not a gacha that is covered under this. Are you batty for thinking that this would cover lootbox bullshit?
 

jshackles

Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the capability to make the world's first enhanced store. Steam will be that store. Better than it was before.
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No that is not what they said. It said for an expansion. Not a gacha that is covered under this. Are you batty for thinking that this would cover lootbox bullshit?
I'm not batty, I'm just reading what they've wrote.



I take this to mean that games and apps that are part of the service will be completely free of ads and in-app purchases. All "lootbox bullshit" are in-app purchases.
 
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SO basically you scratch our back and we scratch yours. Honestly, I don't feel like I need to give google any money. Just don't fucking purchase shit in-game. This is clearly meant for parents more than anything who can't control their kids from buying tons of crap.
 

DeepEnigma

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But part of the draw here is that Google is offering it's subscribers free in-game purchases as well. Meaning those gacha draws would all be free for subscribers...

So lock out timers and grind?

How are they going to retool those games?
 

Trogdor1123

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This looks pretty awesome to me. Could share it with my kids for a real awesome value. Once it comes north I'll consider it for sure. Anything to get the kids good games without the bs.
 

Iorv3th

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I'm not batty, I'm just reading what they've wrote.



I take this to mean that games and apps that are part of the service will be completely free of ads and in-app purchases. All "lootbox bullshit" are in-app purchases.

In app purchases can be a lot of things. But do you think clash of clans is suddenly going to have the ability to do everything for free once you pay 5$ a month to Google?
 

Danny Dudekisser

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In app purchases can be a lot of things. But do you think clash of clans is suddenly going to have the ability to do everything for free once you pay 5$ a month to Google?

Yeah, I think it's pretty obvious that no developer would agree to be part of this if it would fuck up their monetization scheme. You're not going to see games that use IAP to gate progression as part of this.
 

jshackles

Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the capability to make the world's first enhanced store. Steam will be that store. Better than it was before.
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So lock out timers and grind?

How are they going to retool those games?
It's hard to say and will probably depend on the developers and what Google considers to be "activity time" which developers are paid based on.

Humble Bundle did something like this years ago (not the subscription service, but offering Android app downloads that had the in-app purchases stripped out) and there were a few games that became instantly tolerable. Not having to buy new heroes in Kingdom Rush or the "double cash mode" in Bloons TD5 with real money was super nice. Those games in particular were re-worked so that the in-app purchases were replaced with buying from the in-game store using in-game currency.

However, Google's developer FAQs say that most apps can be deployed using a single build as long as they're using the standard APIs. That probably just applies to ad serving and in-app purchases (being totally free for subscribers) , but I guess it's hard to say what developers will do with this.

In app purchases can be a lot of things. But do you think clash of clans is suddenly going to have the ability to do everything for free once you pay 5$ a month to Google?

No, because I don't think Clash of Clans would agree to be part of this service. It doesn't work with every app, only a curated selection where the developers have agreed to the new revenue split that Google has set up.
 
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Amazon tried doing this before with Amazon Underground. It was actually a pretty decent from a consumer standpoint since they had games that would normally have ads and IAP be comepletely free. They compensated devs based on how much the apps were actually played. The service was discontinued but since I registered practically everything that looked remotely decent I still have access to those games now. Of course Amazon Underground was entirely free (which is probably why it went belly up in the first place). Anyway just looking at the image in the OP, there are some decent games in there.
 
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MacReady13

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Did you ever just wish you could Professor X Cerebro into everybody's mind in the world and tell them "do not go down this path"? But then you can't, and you just know that things are about to get a whole lot worse? That's what reading this invokes in me.

110%. This, along with streaming games, is what I fear most for the gaming industry. Looks like it's the path gamers aren't asking for but these companies want so, what do I know???
 

sol_bad

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How is it that Google aare smart enough to do this type of subscription service for mobile but dumb with their planning of Stadia? Honestly, Stadia shoul be the exact same thing but for console/PC based games.
 

dalekjay

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If this is the way garbage mobile game monetization is ended (or at least curved), I’ll welcome the subscription model.

Nope, unfortunately starts like this “oh pay the subscription so we tame down monetization” then 2 years down the line “oh we have to go back to more monetizations because costs are high “
Then we will have worst parts tied together , every company thinks that they can grow indefinitely.

We create tech so we have less work but we just work more and more
 
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Griffon

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Or you know, they could have had a marketed special store where they only sell games you buy once and done, no freenium bullshit allowed.
But nooooo, they gotta do the scummy subscription move, where you don't own any of your games and end up paying a lot more than buying the games you like (and more than likely screwing up devs with bad deals to be in there).

This industry...
 
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JCK75

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I don't do mobile gaming, but I'll check if I can share it with my son who does like I can purchases then it would be incredible, also if I can get a healthy selection of controller capable games on my shield TV and Mibox