WinZO sues Google for Play Store policy

Story by  IANS | Posted by  shaista fatima • 1 Years ago
A representational image
A representational image


New Delhi

Homegrown vernacular social gaming platform WinZO Games on Tuesday said it has challenged Google's recent policy in the Delhi High Court for the selective inclusion of only daily fantasy sports (DFS) and Rummy games on its Play Store that leaves out several skill gaming platforms and local developers.

WinZO has sought restraint from the court against Google from implementing the "arbitrary classification which will impact the reputation of its business." WinZO is among industry players, such as Mobile Premier League (MPL) and Zupee, who have called the policy arbitrary, unfair and restrictive. Saumya Singh Rathore, Co-founder, WinZO Games told IANS that there is no evaluation of the impact that is likely to result from such a clearly discriminatory and arbitrary classification by Google Play.

"We fail to understand how Google is being permitted to select that within a set of legal/legitimate businesses, only DFS and Rummy will be onboarded and the other Skill Games, excluded," he stressed.

Google was yet to reach on the WinZO lawsuit. Google is set to run a pilot test for the local developers to distribute their daily fantasy sports (DFS) and rummy games apps on Play Store in India, as e-sports become big in the country. Starting September 28, Play Store will begin a limited-time pilot allowing for the distribution of DFS and Rummy apps to users in India by developers incorporated in India. The pilot programme will run from September 28, 2022 until September 28, 2023.

According to WinZO lawsuit, the Google policy will not only reduce the marketing cost for players in monopoly to one-fourth of their cost but also create a false perception of legitimation of DFS and Rummy over all other games such as Carrom, Chess, Quiz, etc.

"Google's policy can lead to distortions in the competitive Indian gaming ecosystem by resulting in unparalleled access to the 2.5 billion monthly active users across 190 countries where the Google Play Store is available," said the lawsuit. Google Play Store is the largest app distribution platform owning 97 per cent market share in India. Sameer Barde, CEO of E-Gaming Federation had said that the Google move "helps legitimate skill gaming operators grow while eliminating unscrupulous fly-by-night operators," almost implying that companies excluded in the pilot are not legitimised.

The Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS) Director General, Joy Bhattacharya, had said that Google Play Store is allowing games "recognised by the Supreme Court of India as regular business activities".

In the K.R. Lakshmanan vs State of Tamil Nadu (which most of the Rummy Companies cite for legality) case, the Supreme Court inferred Rummy as being a game of skill, and explicitly drew an analogy to other games of skill, like chess and golf.

"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," Rathore said.

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WinZO is seeking an injunction restraining Google from implementing its revised Playstore policy, along with a ruling that Google must change its policy to allow all apps offering games of skill on its Play Store and not just a select few. WinZO is available in 12 languages, with over 85 million registered users.