Google Play’s group product manager Joseph Mills announced on 12 July 2023 that the app store policy has been updated to enable developers to integrate NFTs and other tokenized digital assets into their apps, to better facilitate blockchain-based applications. Importantly, the revised policy promotes user transparency and prohibits developers from glamorising ‘any potential earning from playing or trading activities’. Mills emphasised that applications noncompliant with Google’s Real-Money Gambling, Games and Contests policy or other requirements cannot profit from or offer ‘blockchain-based items’.
Ban on apps that facilitate cryptomining on devices
Checks on compliance with regulatory or licensing requirements
Transparency and declaration requirements for distributing tokenized digital assets
Additional eligibility requirements for NFT gamification
The new policy was developed in a partnership with the social news site Reddit and incorporates feedback from 'close consultation with app and game developers' to:
Provide a platform for developers to thrive with innovation and build more enriched, immersive experiences for users
Google has previously acknowledged the 'tremendous potential' of Web3 and has been continuing its efforts to boost support for web3 in line with customer requests. In 2022, Google announced plans to develop a Web3 team and assembled an internal blockchain specialist team dedicated to exploring blockchain opportunities for Google. With Google Play being home to a diverse range of blockchain related apps already, the changes are expected to greatly expand offerings to 'create more engaging and immersive digital experiences with tokenized digital assets'.
The company's willingness to collaborate with more industry partners to further enrich support of the blockchain technology in the future is in stark contrast with Apple’s hesitant approach. Apple has imposed rules to restrict user interactions with NFTs through their apps and has maintained that NFT purchases can only be made through their in-app payment system.
The recent changes demonstrate Google Play’s ambition to reconceptualize ‘traditional games with user-owned content to boosting user loyalty’, in line with the increasing importance of user ownership in Web3.0 gaming. While the new policy awaits testing by a select group of developers, it will be effective from December 7 2023.
The preview of the upcoming Blockchain-based Content policy is available here.