Google Updates Policies Regarding Blockchain in Play Store

Google has updated transaction policies to allow for blockchain-based digital content, such as NFTs, to be placed within content distributed through its mobile software marketplace Google Play. Google has been slow to warm to blockchain integration, and the new approach comes with strict transparency requirements. If tokenized digital assets are part of an app or game “developers must declare this clearly,” Google explains, adding that “developers may not promote or glamorize any potential earning from playing or trading activities.” These stipulations intend to prevent the hype that has attached itself to so much blockchain activity from infiltrating Google Play.

“With this change, Google Play will expose blockchain games to the masses,” VentureBeat forecasts. While blockchain game companies previously had to rely on the open web for game distribution, this has been a decided disadvantage, since app stores are where players reliably turn to find product.

“While NFT games have had safe harbor on the Epic Games Store, others such as Apple, Google and Steam have prevented developers from selling such games, unless they had a very big Web2 component, meaning players could play a free-to-play game and pay for it with a credit card rather than cryptocurrency,” VentureBeat explains, putting Google’s move in context.

Google developed the new guidelines “in close consultation” with Web3 developers including Mythical Games, whose CEO John Linden said in a post on the Google’s Android Developers Blog that he appreciates Google’s “effort to bring about innovation in this space and move these new economies forward.”

VentureBeat reports that “the Web2 and Web3 requirements ensure that platform owners such as Google Play can still collect their 30 percent fee on transactions.”

There are a host of forbidden activities — including in-app cryptomining and offering “loot boxes” — detailed by VentureBeat. The Developers Blog piece, posted by Google Play Group Product Manager Joseph Mills, notes that “as a next step” the company is exploring support of “secondary markets,” where previously issued blockchain assets can be traded between collectors.

TechCrunch offers a comparison to Apple’s App Store blockchain policies, explaining that “Apple has taken a cautious stance on the digital asset ecosystem by putting additional fees on NFT sales, something that most NFT creators would not agree to.”

While Apple last year began allowing apps “to list, mint, transfer, and let users view their own existing NFTs” the company’s rules “prevent the ownership of NFTs from unlocking any more features within the app,” TechCrunch reports.

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