winzo news: social gaming startup WinZo seeks injunction against Google Playstore policy

WinZO, the vernacular social gaming platform, said it is seeking an injunction over Google’s recent policy allowing daily fantasy sports and rummy in a pilot project on the Playstore.

In a lawsuit filed in the Delhi High Court on Monday, WinZo seeks to “restrict Google from carrying out arbitrary classification which will affect the reputation of WinZo’s business.”

Speaking to ET, Saumya Singh Rathore, co-founder of WinZo, said this policy excludes a large segment of real money games that are categorized as games of skill, making them unfair and restrictive.

“Selective inclusion of games that have been challenged in court (as games of skill) will put other players in a disadvantageous position and distort the market. This effectively sends the message that all other real money games are not legal, even though they are constitutionally protected by the Supreme Court as games skill”. The case was listed for a hearing on Wednesday.

Google does not list real money games on its Play Store anywhere in the world. Earlier this month, it said it will run a one-year beta project, starting on September 28, where it will allow DFS and Rummy products on the Playstore. Google Playstore is the largest app distribution platform with a market share of 97% in India. Other app stores like Apple, Mi, and Samsung, among others, list these games in their stores.

At the time, Roland Landers, chief executive of the All India Games Federation (AGIF) said Google should have a comprehensive approach to adding all other games of skill under the pilot as well. “This particular approach by Google will be challenging for MSMEs and new developers/platforms who will not be able to compete with existing companies as their diverse skill game offerings will be excluded from the Play Store ecosystem,” Landers said.

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Many players who are not part of this selection have raised concerns that the games that are disqualified will be considered illegal and have an impact on their business. This includes games such as chess, kirum, 8-ball pool, and more.

“Google Play, as a market leader, has a duty to act in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner. There does not seem to be a reason to choose only DFS and Rummy. There is no engagement with the industry to know the dynamics. There is no assessment of the potential impact of such arbitrary and discriminatory classification. The obvious. Above all, we failed to understand how to allow Google to specify that within a set of legal/legitimate businesses, only two companies will be included while the others will be excluded,” Rathore said.

This, she added, would result in marketing and customer acquisition costs for select games to a quarter of previous expenditures, making them detrimental to other players.

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