afaqs! news bureau

All India Gaming Federation calls out Google for pausing expansion of pay to play games

The federation's CEO Roland Landers has issued a response to Google.

Google recently announced that it is pausing its plan for exapnding pay to play games on the Play store. The tech giant had announced the expansion in January 2024. However, Google's decision has now upset a few stakeholders in the gaming industry.

Expressing disappointment, Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation says, "We are highly disappointed by Google's arbitrary and anti-competitive decision, primarily affecting pay to play games' smaller developers and distributors. As the oldest and largest representative body, of online gaming in India, we were the first to welcome Google's progressive pilot program to allow Pay to Play skill games on the Play Store. While we were initially concerned Google's decision to limit the pilot to certain games, we understood that, as an early initiative, it would eventually be expanded to include all Pay to Play skill games."

"To Google's credit, they extensively engaged with the industry over the past year and announced earlier this year that they would onboard all skill based Pay to Play skill games. Given that the Google Play Store conservatively holds 90% of the app distribution market, it exerts tremendous control over the Indian mobile market and is a 'must-have'. In this context, not having an inclusive policy and discriminating are forms of gate keeping and market distortion. A private entity's disregard for Indian law, encouragement of anti-competitive practices and limitation of user choice are alarming. Their decision grants them unchecked control to pick winners in the market, favouring large companies and preventing small and emerging start ups from effectively competing in this sector," he adds.

"We will continue to engage with Google and hope that they will work with us to find a quick solution, soon implement the policy and the level playing field, which can go a long way in democratising gaming in this country."

"Additionally, this situation underscores the imminent need for ex-ante competition regulation and the swift implementation of the Digital Competition Bill, and we will continue to push for the same with the Government stakeholders," states Landers.

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