Both Google and Apple offer a premium subscription for a curated selection of mobile apps: Google Play Pass is $5 a month for more than 800 premium apps and games on the Play Store, and Apple Arcade is $5 a month for over 180 games. But if you happen to have a Verizon unlimited plan, you can pick up six months or a year of either, depending on which plan you choose. And refreshingly, this upgrade applies to all existing customers, no new signup required.
Beginning tomorrow, May 25th, subscribers to any Verizon unlimited plan will get six months of access to either Play Pass or Apple Arcade for free. If you’re subscribed to the “Play More” $45 plan or the “Get More” $55 plan, that access extends to a full year. Either way, that’s a $60 value. Not bad, especially since you were inevitably paying for that plan anyway.
If you’re in a position to choose one or the other, I’d go with Apple Arcade in a heartbeat. Play Pass has some pretty good games included in its subscription, and it’s a far wider selection. But all of the apps and games in Play Pass can be had in some form, either paid or free-to-play, on the standard Play Store. Apple goes out of its way to secure exclusives for Apple Arcade, most of which aren’t available any other way (at least on mobile).
Star Trek: Legends, the rebooted version of The Oregon Trail, and The Pathless are all semi-exclusive to Apple’s paid platform, among dozens of others, and they all seem to have an impressive bit of quality control for being featured. I’ve been poking at the service with a three month freebie that came with my iPad, and I have to say I’m impressed. The Pathless in particular is engaging, a genuine example of a “full console game” on a mobile platform, which I began to enjoy immensely once I figured out how to pair my Xbox controller for the damn thing. Google’s quantity-over-quality approach seems notably poorer, though of course, your enjoyment of either service is going to hinge on which of the offered games (or apps in Google’s case) you actually use.
Verizon’s portals for redeeming either Play Pass or Apple Arcade go live tomorrow. Unfortunately it looks like this will be a one-time deal; your 6- or 12-month promo begins once you redeem it, and you’ll have to pay up once the free period is over.