Google is always looking to up the ante with their Android platform. Sometimes they are first with innovative ideas and sometimes they are not. In the case of Google Play Pass, a service that offers unlimited use of certain apps and games for one low monthly fee, they are quite late to the party. Much like the ill fated 3DO console that promised set top box integration of games and television services, we have seen many entries in this pay once a month and play all you want service.
The Past and what the hell happened
Onlive is one such service that offered games as a service. There was an Onlive console and custom controller (I have one in a drawer around here somewhere). While it didn’t survive, it was still an interesting idea and one that we are still seeing evolve today. PC gamers had access to a service called Gametap, which I am not sure, but it seems it is now defunct and gone. The idea was simple, one rate (or many depending on when you checked them out) and you could access select PC games on the service.
Android gamers using the NVIDIA Shield devices can already make use of a service called Geforce Now that allows access to many games for one low price. This service is still in Beta and apparently is free for the time being. The difference here is, gamers can purchase games through the service and play them as well as access many titles “included” with the service.
I am sure I am missing more than a few games as a service platform, but these are the ones that I know were around for more than just the concept phase.
Enter Google and the Google Play Pass
This is an interesting transition we are experiencing. Both Apple, with their Apple Arcade a similar service, and Google, with their Google Play Pass, have something those mentioned already did not have. Almost endless amounts of money and established platforms featuring both users and publishers of new apps and games. The question will be, how many publishers will sign onto these services?
Without games and apps, Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass will both fail horribly because fans will not pay for access to a petty lineup. This is something that Google is seemingly working hard on getting right.
According to Joy of Android, Apple are working with publishers and even footing some of the money for costs. This means potential exclusives for iOS users to enjoy. There is no word yet if Google will counter this move in a similar fashion for Android developers and publishers.
Google’s Play Pass will feature not only games but apps including premium music apps. This could mean additional tiers for subscribers with popular music apps like Spotify or Pandora. There is no word yet but Techweez.com has a bit more on this on their website for those interested.
Apps that are included in Google Play Pass will feature a notation on their page, just under where the price is now. This mention will bring up that the game or app you are looking at, most likely costing more than the rumored $4.99 per month fee, is free with Play Pass and offer users a link to “learn more”.
What you can expect out of Play Pass
Games will of course be a part of the service. Some that have been mentioned so far include Risk, Marvel Pinball, and Stardew Valley. Publishers mentioned by Engadget include LEGO, Annapurna Interactive, Cartoon Network, and Sega.
This gives a bit of bright light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Sega for one is a rather prolific publisher on Google Play, and iTunes. Having them will probably mean we get more versions of classics from the Sega Genesis, of which Sega has already released many variations of on Google Play and iTunes.
Google is going to need exclusives. They need them for Play Pass in order to get people to subscribe to the service.
Differences we can expect from Play Pass versions of games
Well, according to the graphic above that Droidgamers.com published, we can expect no purchases beyond the subscription fee, no ads, and no In-app purchases. This means we could potentially see some great games that were crippled due to IAP available the way they were meant to be.
This also means that games like Sega’s Genesis classics releases will not have advertising in them so you will be able to enjoy them like the originals. This means a lot for gamers like me that play a lot of Android games, both paid and free to play. If Google offers the games I am interested in I will probably subscribe to Play Pass and then buy games I like.
This is what I think is going to be the driving force for Play Pass – a chance for gamers to check out premium games prior to paying for them. For many gamers a month playing a game is more than enough to get tired of it so Play Pass may be a terrific service for them as they can pay $5 a month and get access to tons of games that can be uninstalled and forgotten without a huge financial hit.
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