A radical change is underway at Google Play. They're remodelling their policies, offering developers an opportunity to weave in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and various other digital assets into the fabric of their games and applications. For apps enabling transactions of blockchain-driven assets, they're now obligated to explicitly denote these features in the Play Console.
Joseph Mills, who is at the helm of product management at Google Play, revealed this policy makeover in an informative blog post. The progressive transformation aims to drive partners to inject creativity into "popular gaming experiences using user-owned content" and to establish "an emotional bond with users through uniquely rewarding NFT incentives."
Reddit, with its Avatar NFTs gaining immense traction, was instrumental in formulating this updated policy. Matt Williamson, Senior Engineering Manager at Reddit, has emphasized in the blog post that the goal of these restructured guidelines is to "foster an equitable landscape that nurtures user trust and promotes ethical employment of blockchain innovations."
In the same blog post, Mills highlighted the paramount importance of trust from users. He clarified that while tokenized assets are created to elevate and enrich user experiences, developers must avoid sensationalizing any potential monetary gains from either trading or gaming undertakings as a safeguard for users. This provision falls perfectly in alignment with the Real-Money Gambling, Games, and Contests policy of Google Play. The implication being that apps failing to qualify the gambling criteria will be prohibited from advertising enticing gaming items like "loot boxes" to win NFTs.
The track record of Google's policies on blockchain-focused apps has often been described as mystifying. For example, "Bitcoin Blast" found itself abruptly banished from the Play Store in 2021 without lucid reasoning. On top of that, Google enforced a ban on crypto mining apps in the Play Store back in 2018, a rule which remains intact despite the recent policy tweaks.
However, Google's recent actions reveal a clear turn towards a more Web3-friendly stance. Indicators include the approval of apps like ArDrive Mobile, providing decentralized data storage solutions, and Axie Infinity: Origins for listing in certain Google Play markets in 2022. In another supportive move, Google Cloud in April 2023 kickstarted a program aiming to bolster the growth of Web3 developers.
Google Play has assured its user base that preliminary experiences under this revised policy will be accessible by the end of the summer season. They plan to partner with a select group of developers to achieve this. The Google Play spokesperson confirmed to CoinDesk that the complete policy overhaul is expected to be in full effect later in the year.
Allowing NFTs on Google Play could potentially increase the size of the NFT market, as more users are exposed to these digital assets.
As for the benefits, this policy change has the potential to spur innovation and growth in the digital asset space. It could lead to a wider adoption of NFTs and tokenized digital assets, create new opportunities for developers, and provide unique, immersive experiences for app and game users. Additionally, by stipulating transparency and adherence to certain rules, Google Play also aims to foster trust and promote responsible usage of blockchain technology.