Thu, 07 Dec 2023

New Delhi [India], September 22 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought response of Google on social gaming platform WinZO's suit challenging Google's recent Play store policy (Play Store - Pilot for DFS and Rummy) for the selective inclusion of only Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Rummy on the Google Play Store, allegedly leaving out a large segment of skill gaming platforms and indie developers.

The bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh on Thursday sought response of Google on the suit. The matter would be heard next in November.

For WinZO Games, Sr Advocate Amit Sibal, argued that the unfairness arises out of making available of select formats of only Fantasy and Rummy, leaving behind games such as Chess, Carrom, 8-Ball Pool, Combat Games, even though there is an obligation upon Google PlayStore, an intermediary, not to control the transmission that is going on its platform.

Abhishek Malhotra, Lawyer, TMT for Winzo submiiteed that "The matter raises important and interesting issues for determination, including whether or not a private entity can discriminate against another private entity in an unfair manner, whether or not an intermediary can act in a manner that seems to be in breach of principles of net neutrality, the interpretation of Sectio 79(2) and what constitutes an actionable unfair trade practice.

The Counsel for Google argued the reason for limiting the selection to these two categories is only that in the entire universe of pay-to-play games only Rummy and DFS have, upon being challenged, received certification as a Game of Skill from the Courts in India, hence, they are limited only to these two games.

WinZO called the policy arbitrary, unfair and restrictive and states Google's policy can lead to distortions in the competitive Indian gaming ecosystem by resulting in unparalleled access to the 2.5 billion monthly active users across 190 countries where the Google Play Store is available.

"This will result in benefiting only a handful of players who are already in the monopoly for over a decade. The update is not only seen as anti-competitive but also as a death knell to innovation", says WinZO.

Every other app store in the country including the Apple Store, Vivo, Oppo, and MI Store allows all skill gaming products that are protected uniformly under the Constitution of India. Google, however, to date, did not allow any game with a pay-to-play format on the Google Play Store, plea statedWinZO through a press statement states that IGoogle Playstore is the largest app distribution platform owning 97% market share in India, which is an Android-centric market.

On September 7, 2022, Google announced an update in its longstanding policy and decided to allow Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Rummy products on the Playstore in a year-long pilot starting September 28 this year.

Reacting to Google's Updated policies and challenging the same, Saumya Singh Rathore, Co-founder, WinZO Games said, "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 for selecting only DFS and Rummy. There is no engagement with the industry to find out the dynamics. There is no evaluation of the impact that is likely to result from such a clearly discriminatory and arbitrary classification". (ANI)

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