Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has been testing a competitor to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Arcade, the subscription mobile gaming service that the Cupertino tech giant launched last week for $5 per month. Apple Arcade gives subscribers access to a catalog of over 100 premium games that have no ads or in-app purchases, and the company is offering a one-month free trial to get users on board. Alphabet's offering, called Google Play Pass, is officially launching today.
There are some notable differences between Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass.
It's not just games
For starters, Google Play Pass includes more than just games. Various other non-gaming apps like AccuWeather and Pic Stitch will be included in the service, with the total library consisting of over 350 games and apps at launch. More games and apps will be added to the collection on a monthly basis, much like Apple Arcade. The content will be accessible from Android devices, as well as laptops and tablets running Chrome OS that have the Google Play Store.
Both Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass can be shared within a family. Each user within a family will access the service individually, so each person's activity will not affect others. Google is offering a 10-day free trial and running a launch promotion offering a year's worth of service for $2 per month. There's no mention of exclusive titles, so Google is really just bundling some of the most popular cross-platform games and apps on Android into a subscription service.
Google Play Pass is a different service than Stadia, the $10-per-month cloud-based game-streaming platform that Google detailed earlier this year. Stadia, which launches in November, is positioned more as a competitor to high-end game consoles and PCs.
Android monetization is weaker than iOS
Google is being more aggressive than Apple because it knows that it's coming from behind. While Android is expected to grab an estimated 87% market share of the global smartphone market this year, according to recent estimates from IDC, the platform lags iOS in terms of monetization.
A separate App Annie report this summer estimated that Google Play represents just 36% of mobile consumer spending even though the storefront accounts for 72% of downloads. The flip side of those metrics: iOS grabs 64% of mobile consumer spending with just 28% of downloads.
Apple has invested an estimated $500 million into funding Apple Arcade titles, many of which are exclusive to iOS. Google is throwing (presumably less) money at trying to compete with Apple Arcade, hoping to improve monetization on its platform using the same model.