What Is Google Play Pass?
Similar to Apple Arcade on Apple’s platforms, Google offers Google Play Pass as a subscription service for Android users. For a fee of $4.99 per month, you get access to a premium library of games and apps. Unlike Apple Arcade, which only offers games, the inclusion of apps means it’s worth a look even if you don’t like mobile games.
Everything included with Google Play Pass is free of ads and in-app purchases, so you won’t be subject to the typical mobile gaming nonsense. If you manage a family, Play Pass offers even greater value, as you can share your subscription with up to five other family members.
You’ll need an Android device with access to the Play Store to use Play Pass, so phones, tablets, and even Chromebooks will work. Android 4.4 is the minimum required version, which all but the oldest devices should have.
Apps join and leave Play Pass regularly, so check back for new ones occasionally. If a free app that you use leaves Play Pass, you may start to see ads or prompts for in-app purchases. In case a paid app is no longer part of Play Pass, you’ll still be able to use it for a while before you have to buy it separately.
How to Sign Up for Google Play Pass
At this time, Play Pass is only available in the US. To sign up for Play Pass, open the Google Play Store on your phone and tap the three-line icon at the top-left to slide out the left menu. There, select Play Pass to review some information. Choose Start free trial to try it for a month before you have to start paying.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll see a Play Pass tab on the Play Store’s bottom navigation bar, allowing you to browse included titles. When you open an app, you’ll see whether it’s part of Play Pass or not. If it is, you can download it at no extra charge.
For games that offer more content through in-app purchases, simply open the item like you’re going to pay for it. The title will see that you have Play Pass and unlock it automatically.
The Best Games on Google Play Pass
Whether Google Play Pass is worth the cost for you depends on how many of the apps you’ll use. Let’s first look at a selection of the best games available with Google Play Pass, then we’ll pick out a few top non-game apps.
1. Stardew Valley
This indie title captured the hearts of many with its calm farm-life simulation. In it, you move to your grandfather’s old farm and must rebuild it from scratch. Alongside growing crops and raising animals, you’ll also get to know the other villagers, potentially get married and raise a family, and explore caves.
If you enjoy other building games like Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing, you must check out Stardew Valley. It’s a relaxing title that’s enjoyable both in short bursts and big chunks of time, and will hold your attention for quite a while.
Download: Stardew Valley ($7.99, free with Play Pass)
2. Monument Valley | Monument Valley 2
Both Monument Valley titles are exactly what mobile games should be: beautiful, easy to pick up in short bursts, and fun. They center around spatial puzzles where you must spin impossible shapes and work with optical illusions to guide your character through stages.
It’s a calming, family-friendly experience that makes you think while treating you to gorgeous visuals. Play the original first, and you’ll appreciate the enhancements they made in the second one.
Download: Monument Valley ($3.99, free with Play Pass) | Monument Valley 2 ($4.99, free with Play Pass)
3. Star Wars: KOTOR
Many consider Knights of the Old Republic (or KOTOR) to be one of the greatest games of all time. It was created by legendary RPG developer BioWare, and takes place thousands of years before the Star Wars movies.
The title is well-loved for its story and characters. If you’re a fan of RPGs, Star Wars, or both, you owe it to yourself to check out this classic. While it was originally released in 2003 for the Xbox and Windows, the mobile version is a complete port.
Download: Star Wars: KOTOR ($9.99, free with Play Pass)