Google Play is stepping up its game in the digital content market by updating its store policy to allow transactions of blockchain-based content within apps and games.
A major victory for mobile dApps and Web3 games
The move is a clear response to the growing interest in tokenized digital assets, including Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Joseph Mills, Google Play’s group product manager, stated that the decision was anticipated and has been made in cooperation with Web3 game developers, including Mythical Games.
Historically, platforms like Apple, Google, and Steam have deterred developers from selling NFT games unless these games had a substantial Web2 component, implying that players could engage in free-to-play games and make payments with credit cards instead of cryptocurrencies.
Paying in crypto would work around the system, meaning these major platforms would not receive any fees for economic transactions within apps and games.
Could this signal a paradigm shift?
Google Play’s policy change could signal a major shift, exposing blockchain games to a wider audience and tackling the distribution issues faced by blockchain game companies that previously had to rely on the Epic Games store and the open web.
One of the beneficiaries of this policy shift is Mythical Games, whose NFL Rivals game reported over a million downloads in June. The Web2 and Web3 requirements ensure platform owners such as Google Play continue to collect their 30% transaction fee.
According to Mills, the updated policy requires that developers be transparent about tokenized digital assets. The rules clearly state that developers must disclose if an app or game sells or allows users to earn tokenized digital assets. Furthermore, the promotion or glamorization of potential earnings from playing or trading activities is strictly forbidden.
This could significantly affect developers, compelling them to downplay the “play-to-earn” descriptions popular since the NFT boom in 2021.
Web3 games allowed; but only under strict requirements
Despite the opportunities for enriched experiences offered by tokenized assets, Google Play stressed the importance of user trust. Apps failing to meet gambling eligibility requirements are prohibited from accepting money for a chance to win assets of unknown real-world value, including NFTs. This stance aligns with Google’s known aversion to gambling due to regulatory risks.
The policy update, Mills explained, was a collaborative effort involving extensive consultation with app and game developers. Its objective is to establish an equitable environment that nurtures confidence among users and promotes responsible application of blockchain technology. Partnerships with industry leaders such as Mythical Games and Reddit helped shape the updated guidelines.
Google Play plans to test and roll out these in-app and game experiences this summer. The full policy will apply to all developers on Google Play later this year. Interestingly, owning NFTs can now unlock in-app content, irrespective of whether a user purchased the NFT through a Google Play app or previously owned it.
Future plans include conversations with industry partners to improve support in areas such as secondary markets. As Mills summarized:
“We will continue to engage with developers… and how we can best support them in building sustainable businesses using blockchain technology.”