Google Play Pass expands outside the US, adds more titles and annual pricing

Google Play Pass, the Android alternative to subscription-based game store Apple Arcade, is expanding. Launched in September 2019 with more than 350 apps and games, Play Pass today announced it has added 150 new titles, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Golf Peaks and kid-friendly content like apps from Sesame Workshop, for example. In addition, the service will be offered in a range of new non-U.S. markets for the first time and is adding an annual subscription option.

Unlike Apple Arcade, Google Play Pass at launch offered a combination of games and premium apps, like AccuWeather, Facetune and Pic Stitch, for example. (Facetune and AccuWeather have since been removed). It also included a notable list of launch titles, like Stardew Valley, Risk, Terraria, Monument Valley, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Reigns: Game of Thrones, Titan Quest and Wayward Souls.

The company has been steadily growing its lineup since its debut. Google says that over the past few months, it has added more than 150 titles and is preparing to roll out even more. A series of new titles will also premiere on Google Play Pass this year at launch, starting with the newly released The Almost Gone from Playdigious, available now. This will be followed by The Gardens Between and Kingdom Rush, then new releases like Bright Paw from Rogue and Line Weight from The Label coming later this year.

With the expansion, Google Play Pass now includes more than 500 apps and games.

The company is also offering a different way to pay for the subscription. Play Pass first offered users a $1.99 per month promotional subscription for the first year, which would increase to $4.99 per month afterwards. As early adopters are nearing the price change, Google is instead giving them a chance to save by paying for a year’s subscription upfront. The new annual subscription option brings the price down to $29.99 per year in the U.S., which works out to roughly $2.50 per month.

Existing subscribers will be able to make the change to an annual subscription from the Play Pass tab in the Play Store app for Android this week.

The service is also launching internationally with availability in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom, starting this week.

Because Play Pass didn’t rely as heavily on exclusives and included non-game apps, it was able to offer a larger catalog than Apple Arcade did at launch. Today, Apple touts that Arcade offers more than 100 games, while Google has added more apps than that in just the past several months.

Google also ties its payouts to developers based on Play Pass downloads, while Apple had offered upfront funding for Arcade titles, with more for exclusives. iOS developers are also under NDA about their agreements, but a revenue share is reportedly involved here, as well.

Both services cater to a growing audience interested in subscription-based entertainment, which is no longer limited to just streaming music and video. Outside of standard mobile game revenue, app subscriptions have been driving increases in consumer spend across the app stores for some time.

The Google Play Pass expansion to new markets and the annual subscription option are both rolling out this week.

Correction: Google initially described the annual subscription as U.S.-only. It will be offered elsewhere. The company updated its own announcement on the matter to clarify this.