Google Play updates its policies allowing blockchain games and apps

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Google Play has updated its store policy to allow for new ways to transact blockchain-based digital content within apps and games.

The move comes in response to growing interest in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other tokenized digital assets, which offer unique and engaging experiences for users. Google signaled it would arrive earlier this year and is now working with Web3 game makers like Mythical Games, said Joseph Mills, the group’s product manager for Google Play, in a statement.

While NFT games had a safe haven on the Epic Games Store, others like Apple, Google and Steam prevented developers from selling such games, unless they had a very large Web2 component, meaning players could play to a free-to-play game and pay for it with a credit card rather than cryptocurrency. With this change, Google Play will expose blockchain games to the masses. In the past, blockchain game companies had to hope for better distribution of their games on the open web, which presented them with significant distribution problems since app stores are where the gamers are.

Mythical Games said its NFL Rivals Web2/Web3 game hit nearly one million downloads in June. The Web2 and Web3 requirements ensure that owners of platforms like Google Play can still collect the 30% transaction fee.

As part of the new policy, developers must be transparent with users about tokenized digital assets, Mills said. If an app or game sells or allows users to earn tokenized digital assets, developers must clearly state this. Furthermore, the developers may not promote or glorify any potential gaming or trading income.

This will obviously force developers to downplay descriptions of play-to-ear games that were popular starting in 2021, when the NFT boom exploded and money poured into blockchain games. With the cryptocurrency winter, the NFT price crash, and other scams, the idea of ​​making a lot of money as an NFT speculator has become much less appealing in recent months.

Now, many Web3 game companies have chosen to highlight other benefits, such as fun gameplay, player ownership, and possible voting rights. Google has pointed to creative in-app experiences that innovations can deliver.

As with any emerging technology, we must balance innovation with our responsibility to keep users safe. So, we’ve talked to developers to responsibly support these opportunities while continuing to provide a safe, transparent, and trusted experience for everyone, Mills said.

While the tokenized assets are meant to create richer, more engaging experiences, Google Play said it’s also emphasizing the importance of maintaining user trust. Therefore, apps that do not meet the gambling eligibility requirements cannot accept cash for a chance to win assets of unknown real monetary value, including NFTs. (Google generally frowns on gambling, which has various regulatory risks).

In line with Google Play’s Gambling, Real Money Games and Contests policy, apps that do not meet the Gambling eligibility requirements cannot accept cash for a chance to win assets of unknown actual monetary value , including NFTs. For example, developers should not offer purchases where the value of NFT users received is unclear at the time of purchase. This includes, but is not limited to, offering mechanisms to receive random blockchain-based items from a purchase such as loot boxes, Mills said.

Working with developers

Google Play

Google said the policy update was developed in close consultation with app and game developers and incorporates their feedback on how Google Play can continue to support their businesses. The goal is to create a level playing field that promotes user trust and responsible use of blockchain technology.

We greatly appreciate Google’s partnership in this collaborative effort to bring innovation to this space and move these new economies forward. We believe these new policies represent a step forward for both gamers and developers and will positively impact the adoption of new technologies while also protecting consumers, said John Linden, CEO of Mythical Games, in a statement.

Reddit also offered commentary on the policy change.

At Reddit, we believe in empowering our users by providing transparency and a responsible approach to blockchain-based digital content like our collectible Avatars, Matt Williamson, senior engineering manager at Reddit, said in a statement. We’ve partnered with Google to help update their policy, aimed at creating a level playing field that promotes user trust and responsible use of blockchain technology. By setting clear guidelines, we can ensure that our users make informed decisions while enjoying engaging experiences.

Google Play said it expects users to start seeing these in-app and game experiences by the end of the summer, as a select group of developers will help test and iterate the new user experience. The policy will be fully rolled out by the end of the year for all developers on Google Play. Ownership of NFT can unlock in-app content, whether a user purchased the NFT through a Google Play app or already owns it.

Looking forward

Mythical Games Nitro Nation World Tour
Mythical Games Nitro Nation World Tour.

The policy update is just the first step in Google Plays’ efforts to support blockchain-powered app experiences. The company is also in discussions with industry partners to further enhance its support in areas such as secondary markets.

Overall, Google Play said the policy update is a positive development for developers looking to create immersive and immersive experiences through blockchain technology. As technology continues to evolve, it’s important that platforms like Google Play continue to support innovation while maintaining user trust and safety.

We will continue to engage with developers to understand their challenges and opportunities and how we can best support them in building sustainable businesses using blockchain technology, Mills said. As a next step, we’re talking to industry partners to further enhance our support of blockchain-powered app experiences, including in areas like secondary markets.

I’ve included some of the formal languages ​​below:

Formal language of content policy based on blockchain

As blockchain technology continues to evolve rapidly, we aim to provide a platform for developers to thrive with innovation and create more engaging and enriched experiences for users. For purposes of this policy, we consider blockchain-based content to be tokenized digital assets secured on a blockchain. If your app contains blockchain-based content, you must comply with these requirements.

Cryptocurrency exchanges and software wallets

The purchase, holding or exchange of cryptocurrencies should be conducted through certified services in regulated jurisdictions.

You must also comply with applicable regulations for any region or country your app is intended for, and avoid publishing your app where your products and services are prohibited. Google Play may ask you to provide additional information or documents relating to your compliance with any applicable licensing or regulatory requirements.


[Note: This part of policy is not new / it was moved from the Financial Services section to this newly created Blockchain-based content policy section]

Apps that mine cryptocurrency are not allowed on devices. We allow apps that remotely manage cryptocurrency mining.

Transparency requirements for the distribution of tokenized digital assets
If your app sells or allows users to earn tokenized digital assets, you must declare it via the financial characteristics declaration form on the App Content page.

When you create an in-app product, you must indicate in the product details that it represents a tokenized digital asset. See Creating an in-app product for more guidance.

You may not promote or glorify any potential income from gambling or trading activities.

Additional requirements for NFT gamification

Under Google Play’s Gambling, Real Money Games and Sweepstakes policy, gambling apps that integrate tokenized digital assets, such as NFTs, must complete the application process.

For all other apps that do not meet the eligibility requirements for gambling apps and are not included in the Other Real Money Game Pilots, anything of monetary value should not be accepted in exchange for being able to obtain an NFT of unknown value. NFTs purchased by users are expected to be consumed or used in the game to enhance the user experience or help users advance the game. NFTs must not be used to wager or stake in exchange for an opportunity to win prizes of actual monetary value (including other NFTs).

Examples of violations

Apps that sell packets of NFTs without disclosing the specific contents and values ​​of the NFTs.

Pay-to-play social casino games, such as slot machines, that reward NFTs.

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