Online gaming platform WinZo has filed a lawsuit against tech giant Google for limiting its recently launched pilot program allowing real-money gaming apps on Play Store to Rummy and Daily fantasy sports (DFS) categories, sources said. The company has termed the policy an unfair trade practice.
The vernacular social gaming platform has challenged the recent Play Store policy in the Delhi High Court for selective inclusion of only DFS and Rummy on the Google Play Store. The gaming platform has called the policy arbitrary, unfair, and restrictive, as it leaves out a large segment of skill gaming platforms and indie developers.
Starting September 28, Google Play will begin a year-long pilot allowing the distribution of DFS and Rummy apps by developers incorporated in India for Indian users. The tech giant has defined DFS as games in which contestants use their knowledge of athletic events and athletes. It defined Rummy as a set of card games in which a player must strategise, memorise the fall of cards, and arrange valid card sets and/or sequences.
Although Google declined to comment about the lawsuit at the moment, a person familiar with the matter confirmed that the company has received a legal notice. “This is the initial phase of the pilot project and the decision of including these two categories was taken because of user safety concerns around fantasy game apps,” a Google executive said on condition of anonymity.
WinZo has its rummy and DFS gaming apps, but also offers other real-money games such as Carrom, Ludo, Bingo and Pool. The platform said the policy was discriminatory and might hurt the growth of apps from other categories.
“Google Play, as a market leader, has a duty to act in a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory manner. There is no engagement with the industry to find out the dynamics. There is no evaluation of the impact that is likely to result from such a discriminatory and arbitrary classification,” said Saumya Singh Rathore, Cofounder at WinZO Games.
Rathore said the pilot program may result in a monopoly of the apps from the selected categories by cutting down their marketing cost to one-fourth of the current spending.
She added, “In the fast-evolving sunrise sector, gaming, a level playing field is key to innovation and success. The year-long pilot is detrimental to thousands of companies and can lead to irreversible market distortion of a fast-moving gaming tech industry, leading to the death of many players as the strong get stronger.”
During the launch of the pilot program, Google had indicated that Play Store may allow apps from other real money gaming categories to list in the future. “Learnings from the pilot will help us explore possible updates to our real-money games, contests, and tournament apps policy,” the company said.
“We are constantly exploring ways for local developers to build successful businesses and offer delightful experiences on Google Play. Through this pilot program, we are taking a measured approach that will help us collate learnings and retain an enjoyable and safe experience for our users,” a Google spokesperson said during the launch of the pilot program.