Google easing its app policies to help startups

Google is simplifying its Play Store policies for gamification-oriented loyalty programmes in a bid to provide more clarity to app developers and address concerns raised by many tech startups. Suzanne Frey, Vice President, Product, Android Security and Privacy, said the reworked policy is based on several discussions the technology major has had with startup founders and executives in India and across the world. It also takes into account feedback Google has received from app developers globally.

“App developers in India are actively building uniquely Indian features and services. One example is the use of mini games, quizzes and other gamification techniques to delight users and convert them 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”, Frey said.

The new policy will apply to loyalty programmes that offer cash prizes or other real-world value prizes based on a qualified monetary transaction in the app. Specific details are expected to be disclosed when the policy goes live late Thursday.

“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,” Frey said.

India, among the largest Android markets in the world, is a key contributor to the Google Play Store. Consumer spending in apps and games created by Indian developers has jumped by two-fold year-on-year, said Sameer Samat, vice-president of Android and Google Play during a fireside chat with Sequoia Capital India’s managing director Rajan Anandan, at an event organised by TiE’s New Delhi chapter on Thursday.

Samat added that Indian developers saw a growth of more than 80% in consumer spend from users outside India year over year.

In addition to the policy clarification, Google said it is launching a new web repository called ‘How Google Play Works’, that will comprise best practices and useful information for app developers. It will also include India-specific details on various programmes that developers can leverage to scale their apps.

Google’s move to tweak its policy comes after food delivery apps Swiggy and Zomato had to
pause their in-app gamification features after receiving notices from the tech giant in September last year, stating the features violated its Play Store guidelines.

Prior to that, Paytm’s app was
temporarily delisted from Google Play Store after the US-based technology behemoth said that the IPL-based cashback promotion flouted its anti-gambling policy.

This along with Google’s move to
enforce a 30% commission on in-app purchases of digital goods from Play Store had raised concerns among Indian startup founders and tech executives. Google has since
deferred the enforcement to April 2022.

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