Gaming businesses will benefit from Google’s decision to loosen Play Store regulations in order to enable more real-money games on its app store. Apart from fantasy and rummy, the tech giant will start to integrate other real-money gaming genres in June.
Real-money gaming firms like WinZo and MPL, among others, will profit from this development since it will enable them to offer pay-to-play skill games on the Play Store, including chess and poker, and have direct access to a large Android user base.
According to industry officials, Play Store was accessible to real-money gaming companies like Dream11 and Games 24×7 since their games fell into the fantasy and rummy categories.
In September 2022, Google launched a test program in India that allowed gaming companies to provide their users daily fantasy sports (DFS) and rummy apps through the Play Store for a year. The pilot program, which was originally scheduled to run until January 15 of last year, has now been extended through June 30 of this year, when the new policy will take effect.
For real-money gaming, Google is also thinking about implementing a new service fee structure. It charges a 15–30% service fee on subscriptions and in-app purchases. The developers must pay Google 11-26% if they select a different billing scheme. However, since the project is still in its experimental phase, actual gaming companies are not now required to pay any compensation. What kind of additional service charge Google will impose on the real-money gaming applications after June 30 is unknown.
“We are working closely with developers to ensure our new approach reflects the unique economics and various developer earning models of this industry,” said Karan Gambhir, director of Global Trust and Safety Partnerships at Google, in a blog. Gambhir continued, “We will have more information on our new policy and future expansion plans to share in the coming months.”
The decision by Google to expand the Play Store to include all real-money game genres was well received by the gaming community. Industry leaders are worried about the company’s potential pricing structure, though, because they already have to pay a higher goods and services tax (GST) of 28%.
Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), stated, “We believe that this move by Google will give a big boost to the Indian online gaming industry, where over 70% of the revenue is generated by pay-to-play platforms.”
Landers claims that Google’s decision will give customers a wide range of options. “It will significantly lower the costs associated with user acquisition and other related activities, which will benefit MSMEs (micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises) and new developers/platforms who will be able to compete with established companies,” he stated.
However, more real-money games will be permitted in accordance with national laws and Google’s own policies, the company stated, with user safety in mind.
The sector expects that by June, the government will clarify the rules governing online gaming companies and self-regulatory organizations (SROs) may get notification.