New Play Store policy on gamified loyalty programs to give clarity: Google

India on Thursday said it has updated its Play Store policy guidance on gamified loyalty programs to provide more clarity around the rules, while safeguarding users and optimising developer experience.

The tech giant also emphasised that while it does not allow real money gambling apps on the Play Store in India, it remains committed to engage with industry and government bodies as they deliberate on measures that will best support this industry.

The move comes months after the company faced backlash from developers over alleged monopolistic practices.

“Based on feedback from developers globally, we have updated our policy guidance on gamified loyalty programs that are based on a qualified monetary transaction in the app and offer prizes of cash or other real-world value,” said in a blogpost.

The update provides more clarity on policy requirements for loyalty program disclosures and features. The update has been “designed to safeguard users and optimise the developer experience”, it added.

cited an example saying 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. More details will be available later on the global Play Policy Centre.

“While we do not allow Real Money Gambling apps on the Play Store in India, we remain committed to engaging with industry and government bodies as they deliberate on measures that will best support this industry,” the blogpost by Google Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, Suzanne Frey said.

In September last year, Google found itself in the midst of a controversy after Paytm was blocked from the Play Store for a few hours for violating its policy on sports betting activities. The app was later restored after the fintech app removed the ‘cashback’ feature linked to a game on the app.

Paytm had alleged that it was “arm-twisted” by the search engine major to comply with Play Store policies “that are meant to artificially create Google’s market dominance”.

Later, food delivery apps Zomato and Swiggy also received notices from Google for their in-app gamification features that allegedly violated Play Store guidelines.

Google, in its latest blogpost, said app developers in India are actively building uniquely Indian features and services. Examples of these include use of mini games, quizzes and other gamification techniques to convert users into loyal customers.

“These experiences are often launched during important festivals and sporting events, and getting it right within the specific time window is critically important,” Google said.

The company said this is one of the things it discussed when it spoke to several startup CEOs in India and around the world in the past few months.

“Striking the right balance between developer creativity and user trust is critical to building a thriving ecosystem that enables these innovative solutions to become successful businesses. We accomplish this balance through a set of policies that are regularly reviewed and revised, to ensure that we do right by both developers and users,” the company said.

Google said it is also launching a web resource called ‘How Google Play Works’.

This is a repository of useful information and best practices to enable developers to continue delivering innovative and secure apps and games to people around the world, it noted.

“It also contains India-specific details on programs that local developers can leverage to find success and scale. For users, this site helps to demystify key aspects of the Google Play platform, and explains how user security and protection remains at the heart of everything we do,” it added.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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