If you’re like me, you’re scratching your head right now over Google’s recent introduction of Play Pass. Play Pass is a monthly subscription service that enables you to download and play a vast library of games and other productivity apps that are currently available on Google’s Play Store. This announcement couldn’t come at a more inopportune time. We’re just two months away from the official launch of Google’s massive game streaming service, Stadia. So what gives? Why would Google preemptively smother the lead-up to Stadia’s premiere by launching a decidedly inferior service?
A project manager at Google had this to say about Play Pass, “Games are super important … it [Play Pass] doesn’t just appeal to hardcore gamers.” OK, so Play Pass is being targeted against those Android users who might not opt into the Stadia ecosystem. Fair enough. Unfortunately, there are still several flaws in Play Pass that’ll give you some more head scratching.
Fueled by over 350 games and apps that are currently available on the Google Play Store, Play Pass will cost $4.99 per month for complete, unlimited, ad-free access to this library. What if you already purchased and played “Monument Valley,” for example. What benefit would Play Pass give you? Maybe very little or maybe the opportunity to play games that you would never purchase.
Subscriber beware, game developers use an “opt-in” application process for enabling a game or app to be included in the Play Pass library. The Google project manager neglected to say what will happen to Play Pass games when a developer abandons this subscription service. Additionally, this project manager also failed to mention details about the contract terms associated with monetary payments to developers for game subscriptions.
At the time of publication, Google is offering a nifty promotion of $1.99 per month for the first year of your subscription to Play Pass. Likewise, there is a 10-day free trial grace period. Finally, Google will let up to five family members share a single subscription. Regardless of how Play Pass “plays” out, the worst enemy to Android gaming might be Google, itself.
Come to the Dark Side
It was only a matter of time before the Google Play Store received the dark theme treatment. Following the release of Android 10 last month, Google apps have slowly, but surely, been enabling a dark mode theme. Like the Google app and Gmail, the Play Store is now sporting a dark theme. Supposedly, this dark theme is enabled with Play Store Version 16.7.21. Therefore, if you aren’t seeing the dark side, yet, hunt down the current Play Store update or if you’re an Android 10 user the change could be an automatic theme enabled in the new OS system settings.
Mario Kart Tour
It’s finally here: Nintendo’s Mario Kart Tour. This long-delayed title is available as a free download. Playing it for free, however, might be a different matter. Be advised, you will need a Nintendo account before you can play this game. Even worse, if you want full access to all of the game’s races, courses, and karts, you will have to pay a $4.99 per month subscription. Nintendo calls this subscription the “Gold Pass.” Gold for Nintendo and NOT for you.
Lacking controller support, Mario Kart Tour offers a rather lackluster game performance. Adding further pain to the game, this is a portrait-only game interface. Luckily, the game’s graphics are top notch. So while driving is next to impossible, it sure does look great while you’re poking along the race course. You can learn more about Mario Kart Tour from the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-_s4oWV1cU.