Paytm First Games said it had realigned its promotion strategies, whichhad termed as “policy violations” earlier.
Google’s Play Store does not allow any real money-based fantasy gaming application or the promotion of such apps through verified store apps. Even leading cash-based fantasy gaming platforms such as Dream 11 are not on Play Store.
The US technology giant had clarified its position on anti-gambling policies in a blog post last month, ahead of theseason, saying it would tighten the screws on such apps and campaigns on Play Store apps. Google had argued that this was done to provide customers a “safe and secure” environment.
Paytm First Games, however, accused Google of exhibiting “dangerous” and “extra-judicial monopolistic powers” in interpreting policies for commercial benefit and disbarring apps “arbitrarily”. Google did not respond to ET’s emailed queries till press time on Wednesday.
“While Google does not allow us to promote our ‘pro’ app on our own free app or Paytm app, we can promote it on Google andby paying hefty fees to Google,” Paytm First Games said in the blog post, referring to the practice of paid ads on Google search and its video sharing platform.
“If the Paytm app promoted Paytm First Games, then Paytm app would also be violating their “policies”. But when YouTube promotes the same Paytm First pro app (for a hefty advertising fee), then it is not a violation of such “policies” and suddenly does not create a risk to the customers,” it said, pointing out that fantasy gaming was legal in most Indian states.
Fantasy sports are a state subject and are allowed in most states, except Assam, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The Paytm First Game app available on Play Store is a non-cash fantasy gaming platform, and its “pro” version is only available on its website, not on the app store.
The fracas began on September 18 when Google took down both Paytm and Paytm First Games from its Play Store for violating its gambling policy, which prevents any registered store app from promoting real money-based fantasy games or skill-based cashback schemes.
Paytm’s payments app was restored the same day after it tweaked some requirements to fit Play Store’s policy, but Paytm First Games has only now been listed back. The delisting of Paytm apps have caused an uproar in the startup ecosystem and prompted Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma to accuse Google of being “biased” and “monopolistic”.
The development also comes at a time when India’s app ecosystem is protesting Google’s plans to enforce a 30% commission on apps selling digital goods, with effect from April 2022.