Google Play to run India pilot for daily fantasy sports, rummy apps
Google Play is conducting a pilot programme for the India distribution of real-money games, daily fantasy sports (DFS) and rummy apps by developers incorporated in the country. Real-money game apps are disallowed on Google Play in India yet.
The pilot will run for one year starting September 28, 2022. “We are constantly exploring ways for local developers to build successful businesses and offer delightful experiences on Google Play. Through this pilot programme, we are taking a measured approach that will help us collate learnings and retain an enjoyable and safe experience for our users,” said a Google spokesperson.
The news matters to real-money game app developers in India, as DFS games and rummy games are not allowed on Google Play for they go against the platform’s policy. In 2020, Google Play banned Paytm First Games for not following its gambling policy.
Paytm First Games welcomed the pilot. “We are hopeful that this is the first step among many to come as many more skill-based games could benefit from distribution and reach of the Play Store,” said Sudhanshu Gupta, COO, Paytm First Games.
Some other players in the segment include unicorns like Dream11, Mobile Premier League (MPL) and Games24x7.
Companies seek ‘inclusive approach’
Google Play’s stand on real-money game apps needs to be more inclusive, said online gaming companies. Roland Landers, chief executive officer – The All India Gaming Federation, said: “AIGF has been advocating for a while that all games of skill be allowed on Google Play store to augment the Indian online skill gaming industry. However, games of skill is a broad category and Fantasy Gaming & Rummy are just two game formats considered in this pilot programme by Google.”
“Poker too is considered a game of skill by several High Courts in India. Likewise, there are numerous developers who offer classic as well as innovative games of skill. At AIGF, we believe that Google should have an inclusive approach of adding all these games of skill under the umbrella of this pilot project for India,” he said.
Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder of WinZO, said: “The selective exclusion of all real money skill games except Rummy and Fantasy is clearly discriminatory. The Supreme Court has settled precedent on games of skill. So, players’ knowledge, training, attention, and experience, determine their success in such games. It is unreasonable for Google to only allow Rummy and Fantasy games while foreclosing the door for all other skill-based games that cumulatively form a bigger user base of over 500MM users in India. This is yet another example of arbitrary platform policies and misuse of dominance.”
Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are among the states that have banned real-money games. Google Play has said that DFS and Rummy apps will be subject to the terms and conditions of the pilot, including complying with local laws and regulations. The apps must have ownership licences, and ensure their app is accessible to people older than 18 years and residing in states where the game is not prohibited. Google Play policies shall apply for the pilot as well.
Developers are also required to provide users with a redressal mechanism and customer support.
“We welcome this pilot by Google to allow apps on Google Play Store that are recognised by the Supreme Court of India as regular business activities,” said the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sport in a statement.
“This could potentially be a game changer as the PlayStore has seen a 200 per cent increase in active monthly users in India last year. This development will certainly give further impetus to industry,” said Bhavin Pandya, co-founder and co-CEO, Games24x7.
According to a Redseer report, the online skill-based real-money gaming (RMG) market in India will be worth some $3.8 billion by 2024 on the back of growing smartphone penetration, low cost of data and digital payment infrastructure that allows individuals access to instant real-time inter-bank transactions.
DFS contestants use their knowledge to select or manage rosters of simulated athletes whose performance corresponds with the actual performance of athletes in sports teams or in events. The outcome of DFS games depends on how the performances of participants’ fantasy roster choices compare with the performance of others’ roster choices.
Rummy is a set of card games in which a player strategise, memorise the fall of cards, and arrange valid card sets and/or sequences by picking and discarding cards from decks, offered in either 10-, 13-, 21-, or 27- formats, and in accordance with the rules followed for the offline versions of the same formats conventionally played in India.
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