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Apple Arcade vs. Google Play Pass: Which subscription is superior?

These are the huge differences between Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass

Apple launched its new Apple Arcade gaming subscription service on September 19, giving members the opportunity to play dozens of games across several different devices for just $5 per month. It’s quite the deal when considering that several of the games included with a membership are exclusive to the service, but Apple is facing some stiff competition in the new realm of mobile gaming subscriptions: Google.

Google is launching its own Google Play Pass service, which hopes to win over members with a huge collection of games and apps. But when it comes down to Apple Arcade vs. Google Play Pass, which service is shaping up to be a better pick, and what are the major differences? We’ve outlined everything you need to know below so you can make the best decision.

Apple Arcade vs Google Play Pass

Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass are both subscription services, but they differ in what they are offering to paying members. These differences go beyond the titles you’ll be able to access with them.

Apple Arcade Trailer — Play extraordinary

Apple Arcade is purely gaming-focused and can run on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. The games included in the service are all compatible with the aforementioned devices, and you get unlimited access to them with your subscription.

The games support cross-save as well, which allows users to play a game on a mobile device while on the go and pick it up on their Mac or Apple TV at home without losing any progress. None of the games included in Apple Arcade will be available on the Google Play Store.

Introducing Google Play Pass

Google Play Pass, in contrast, is going to be available on Android devices only, meaning that you won’t be able to access the games on your traditional PC, but can still play games on Android-equipped laptops, phones, and tablets.

It will not be focused on exclusive games, but will instead act similarly to a service like Xbox Game Pass, providing you with a very cheap way to play many of the top games available on the platform.

Similar to the games on Apple Arcade, these titles offer no in-app purchases or advertisements, so you can get a pure gaming experience without needing to pay beyond the subscription fee.


Apple Arcade games will support physical controllers and are playable offline if you happen to be in an area with poor reception or no internet connectivity.

A parental control feature will also be in place to allow children to enjoy the service without accessing inappropriate games, and an Apple Arcade icon in the App Store itself will make it easy to locate the games you want to play.

There is also Screen Time support, so you can limit just how much time your children are playing per day. You will be able to play Apple Arcade games with up to five others for no additional charge, and games will be added on a consistent basis. Though specific details are scarce, Apple plans to “respect user privacy,” as well.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Google Play Pass will also allow you to enjoy its service with up to five other family members, and they can all access it individually to keep their progress and experiences separate from each other.

A Play Pass tab is available on the Google Play store to make finding games easier, and when scrolling through the Google Play store’s standard games section, a Play Pass ticket will be visible on games that you already have unlocked via the service. This means you won’t ever accidentally buy something you already have access to.

Games and Apps

Apple Arcade’s offerings are limited to video games, but it features a very impressive lineup of titles from indie and large developers. Partners include Capcom, Konami, Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, and simulation game pioneer Will Wright.

Games from several established series are also supported, and many of the games included in Apple Arcade are exclusive to the service – you cannot buy them elsewhere on the App Store, either. Some of the biggest games available or coming soon to Apple Arcade include:

Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Exit the Gungeon
  • Frogger in Toy Town
  • Lego Brawls
  • Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm
  • Overland
  • PAC-Man Party Royale
  • Rayman Mini
  • Sayonara Wild Hearts
  • Shinsekai: Into the Depths
  • Sonic Racing
  • Steven Universe: Unleash the Light

Google Play Pass is taking a far different approach, one more akin to an experience you get with a subscription service like Hulu or Netflix, but without the exclusive content.

At launch, Google Play Pass includes access to over 350 different games and apps, but many of these are previously-available games that are now offered for free with a subscription.

As Google Play Pass does offer non-game apps in its catalog, this could make it a better choice for those who want a wider breadth of content. Some standout titles available on Google Play Pass include:

Image used with permission by copyright holder
  • Bridge Constructor Portal
  • Death Squared
  • Game Dev Tycoon
  • Limbo
  • Monument Valley 2
  • Reigns: Game of Thrones
  • Risk
  • Stardew Valley
  • Star Wars: Knights of the
  • Thimbleweed Park
  • Titan Quest

As you can see from the lineup, several of the games available in Google Play Pass are acclaimed. The main difference in offerings between the two services is that some of the games in Google Play Pass are quite old. Limbo, for instance, released nearly a decade ago.

Price and availability

Apple Arcade is available now and you can begin using the service with a one-month free trial, after which it will cost $5 per month. It is currently available in more than 150 countries, with new content being added regularly.

Google Play Pass, meanwhile, is available exclusively to United States residents and will come to other countries at a later date. The service also costs $5 per month and comes with a 10-day free trial.

For a limited time, you can purchase a 12-month subscription to Google Pay Play for $2 per month, after which it will be marked up to the standard $5 monthly fee. New games will be added to Google Play Pass on a monthly basis, and include This War of Mine in the future.

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Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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