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

Netflix users know the feeling best: When you have access to a massive library of content, it's tough to choose that one thing to watch. With a huge catalog comes the illusion of freedom — just because you have access to thousands of movies doesn't mean you'll actually like all but a few hundred. We opt into a service for catalog access and usually, with the help of an algorithm and a curated dashboard, can discover something new and exciting that makes spending that monthly fee worthwhile. It can feel like this excuses those hundreds of movies and TV shows you just don't care about.

This may be why choosing the right gaming subscription service could be tough. If you've only got Apple or Android devices in your home, the choice is easy: Apple Arcade for Apple users, Google Play Pass for Android. But if you have, say, an iPad, and a Google phone, and you'd like to opt-in to a games subscription service, the call is tougher to make. 

Apple Arcade has exclusives, while Google Play Pass offers apps that Apple doesn't. Play Pass has over 800 games, but Apple Arcade only has just over 200. You can only stream Apple Arcade games via an Apple TV, but Google Play Pass lets you do it with a Chromecast or Google TV.

If you're on the fence about which gaming service to subscribe to, we'll help you make that call. Consider these factors when deciding which service is best for you.

Apple Arcade vs. Google Play Pass: Pricing and deals

Google Play Pass loading screen

(Image credit: Android Central / Future)

Both Google Play Pass and Apple Arcade grant subscribers access to a massive library of video games with no ads and no in-app purchases. Both services cost the same on a monthly basis: $4.99. However, paying for an annual subscription upfront is where Google Play Pass comes out on top.

A yearly sub to Apple Arcade costs $49.99, saving you $10 per year over a monthly subscription. On the other hand, an annual subscription to Google Play Pass is only $29.99, which saves $30 per year over a monthly subscription.

Additionally, Verizon users with select Unlimited plans have access to Google Play Pass for absolutely free, thanks to a deal the cellular network has with Google. You can try a one-month trial of Apple Arcade for free, or get a three-month trial with the purchase of a new Apple product by comparison.

Both Apple Arcade and Play Pass allow for up to five family members to share the same subscription plan. 

Apple Arcade vs. Google Play Pass: Catalog

A list of Apple Arcade games, including LEGO Brawls and The Oregon Trail

(Image credit: Apple)

Having a subscription to Apple Arcade grants you access to a library of over 200 games, including exclusive titles like Star Trek: Legends, Amazing Bomberman, Air Twister, and The Oregon Trail. Apple Arcade’s catalog also includes some of what we believe to be the best iPhone games, like Sayonara Wildhearts, Grindstone, and Skate City. New games are added to the service monthly, though Apple advertises that new “games and content updates” are added weekly. For $4.99 a month, access to over 200 games, including some of the very best Apple Arcade games, is a solid value.

However, Google Play Pass, again, comes up as the winner for having a better, larger library. There are over a whopping 800 titles you can download and play on Google Play Pass. Games include titles like Reigns, Dead Cells, Limbo, Monument Valley, Star Wars: KOTOR, and Game Dev Tycoon. Not to mention, the service also shares several of the same titles available on Apple Arcade. 

Google’s service isn’t purely limited to games, either, as it also includes access to apps. Apps available on Play Pass include useful productivity tools like Tasker and Sound Meter, plus much more.

Apple Arcade vs. Google Play Pass: Compatibility

Google Play Pass on phone

(Image credit: Android Central / Future)

Both Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass support some of our favorite gaming controllers for Apple and Android, respectively. These include the use of both plug-in and Bluetooth controllers, and those made for PlayStation and Xbox too.

You can play Apple Arcade with your best iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or Apple TV as long as they're up to date. The service is compatible with Apple devices running iOS 13, tvOS 13, iPadOS 13, and macOS Catalina or later. Unfortunately, the only way to stream these games on a television set is through Apple TV. You cannot stream Apple Arcade games via Bluetooth or any other way other than having an Apple TV device. 

Comparitively, Google Play Pass is able to stream games on all of your greatest Android phones, tablets, and laptops as long as they're running Play Store version 16.6.25 and above, and Android version 4.4 and above. Google wins when it comes to compatibility with TVs, as it's able to stream Play Pass games via Chromecast, with or without a Google TV device. 

Considering that Apple gates its television streaming access behind another Apple product, Google Play Pass may be the best option for those wanting to play mobile games on a bigger screen.

Apple Arcade vs. Google Play Pass: Which is better?

Apple Arcade Iphone

(Image credit: Future)

This question depends on a variety of factors, like what devices you’re limited to, if you’re interested in access to apps, and if the idea of exclusive titles is enticing.

In terms of value and the wide array of choices included in one subscription, Google Play Pass is the reigning champ. It has hundreds of more games than Apple Arcade, the inclusion of apps, a cheaper annual cost, and it seems more compatible with other devices outside of the Apple family of products.

But if you're limited to Apple devices, or would rather play the slew of Apple Apple-exclusive titles that exist on the service, Apple Arcade may be for you. While it doesn't offer apps or have a vast number of games in its library, the subscription service's trail is at least worth checking out — plus they're only continuing to add more games as the years go on.

Kevin Cortez

Kevin Cortez is a culture and product journalist with over nine years of experience. He was most recently the style editor for a leading product-recommendation site and previously covered the music and podcasting industries at Mass Appeal and The A.V. Club. He has also written for Leafly, Input, Vulture and Genius.