Google Playstore extends grace period for fantasy sports and rummy apps in India, ignores other games: AIGF reacts strongly

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Google has announced an extension to the grace period for developers of fantasy sports and rummy apps that participated in its pilot program in India. This development has led to concerns within the industry, with the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) voicing objections to what it terms as an “arbitrary and anti-competitive decision.”

Mr. Roland Landers, CEO of AIGF, expressed his discontent, stating, “We are extremely disappointed by Google’s arbitrary and anti-competitive decision. As the largest representative body of online gaming in India, we were the first to welcome Google’s progressive pilot program to allow Pay to Play skill games on the Play Store. While we were initially concerned about Google’s decision to limit the pilot to certain games, we understood that, as an early initiative, it would eventually be expanded to include all skill-based Pay to Play games.”

Landers acknowledged Google’s prior engagement with the industry, noting, “To Google’s credit, they extensively engaged with the industry over the past year and even announced earlier this year that they would onboard all skill-based Pay to Play games. Given that the Google Play Store conservatively holds over 90% of the app distribution market, they exert tremendous control over the Indian mobile market and is a ‘must have’.”

However, he criticized the lack of an inclusive policy, arguing that it amounts to unfair market practices. “In this context, not having an inclusive policy and discriminating is a form of gatekeeping and market distortion. The disregard for Indian law, encouragement of anti-competitive practices, and limiting user choice by a private entity is alarming. Their decision grants them unchecked control to pick winners in the market, favouring large companies and preventing small and emerging startups from effectively competing in this sector,” Landers added.

Landers highlighted the need for regulatory intervention, stating, “This situation presents the imminent need for ex-ante competition regulation and the swift implementation of the Digital Competition Bill.”

The AIGF, representing a portion of the Indian online gaming MSME sector, has more than 100 companies across various gaming formats, including esports, fantasy gaming, card games, and casual gaming, with a combined user base of over 400 million users. The federation remains committed to engaging with Google to advocate for a level playing field for all skill-based Pay to Play games on the Play Store.

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