Google is updating its Google Play store developer policy to clarify the rules around seasonal mini games and loyalty-based rewards features in apps, for which it had earlier come under criticism last year after the platform had taken down Paytm’s app. The company said it is looking to balance developer creativity and trust around digital products with the new rules, which will be released for developers today, January 28, 2021.
Citing the example of mini games, quizzes and other gamification techniques used by startups and apps in India, Google said it has been in discussions with startup CEOs and founders to simplify the policies around these loyalty features. “The update provides more clarity on policy requirements for loyalty program disclosures and features. It is designed to safeguard users and optimize the developer experience. For example, the policy provides updated guidance on the use of features such as a spin-the-wheel experience, a guessing game, or a 1:1 points redemption to drive loyalty.” Suzanne Frey, vice president, product, Android security and privacy, wrote.
The tech giant clarified that the new rules would not be applicable for real money gambling apps on the Play Store in India, which remain banned for the time being. Google said that it would interact with authorities and policymakers on future changes, which will be documented on its new microsite How Google Play Works. The site will provide resources to developers and explain how Google is protecting user security.
Google claims over 20 Bn apps and games are downloaded each year from the Play Store. In 2019-20, consumer spend on apps and games created by Indian developers doubled and consumer spend from users outside of India grew by more than 80%.
In September last year, controversy erupted as Google pulled financial services giant Paytm’s app from the Play Store for violating policies related to gambling. Essentially, the company took down Paytm because it was using the main payments app to promote Paytm First Games, which has a daily fantasy sports aspect to it, which violates Google’s policies. But while the app was restored soon after, it didn’t stop critics from taking on Google for its unclear policies. Paytm in a blog post called the takedown and subsequent restoration from the Android app store ‘arm-twisting’ by the global search major.