Google Play Store is set to undergo a significant policy change, opening new avenues for gaming companies. Beginning June, the tech giant will broaden its policies to include additional categories of real-money games, expanding beyond the current limitations on fantasy and rummy.

Gaming Companies to Benefit

This shift is poised to provide a substantial boost to real-money gaming firms such as WinZo, MPL, and others. With the upcoming change, these companies will gain the ability to host pay-to-play skill games like poker and chess on Play Store, granting them direct access to a vast Android user base.

Extension of Pilot Program

Previously, only fantasy and rummy games had access to Play Store, with companies like Dream11 and Games 24×7 leading the way. Google initiated a pilot program in September 2022, allowing gaming companies to distribute daily fantasy sports (DFS) and rummy apps on Play Store. Initially scheduled to conclude on January 15, the pilot has been extended until June 30, aligning with the implementation of the new policy.

New Service Fee Model Considered

In addition to these changes, Google is contemplating a new service fee model for real-money games. Currently, the tech giant charges a 15-30% service fee on in-app purchases and subscriptions. Developers opting for an alternative billing system pay 11-26% to Google. Notably, real gaming firms do not pay any commission during the ongoing pilot stage.

Industry’s Response and Concerns

While the gaming industry welcomes these changes, concerns have been raised about the potential fee structure that Google may introduce. This is particularly pertinent considering the existing 28% Goods and Services Tax (GST) burden on gaming companies.

Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), expressed optimism, stating, “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.

Ensuring Compliance and User Safety

The inclusion of more real-money games in the Play Store will be subject to compliance with the country’s regulatory framework and Google’s policies, with a strong emphasis on prioritizing user safety.

Anticipating Clarity on Regulations

As the changes come into effect in June, the industry anticipates further clarity on regulations for online gaming firms. There are expectations that self-regulatory organizations (SROs) may receive government notification, bringing more structure to the evolving landscape.

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