Social gaming and interactive entertainment platform WinZO has dragged Google to the Delhi High Court over the tech giant's recent pilot to permit daily fantasy sports and rummy apps in its app marketplace Google Play, alleging that it is not only anti-competitive but also a "death-knell to innovation"
The startup said on September 20 that it is seeking an injunction restraining the tech giant from implementing the "arbitrary classification" which it claims impacts the reputation of its business.
On September 8, Google announced that it would begin a one-year pilot starting September 28, to offer daily fantasy sports and rummy apps to users in India by developers incorporated within the country.
However, the app distribution is limited to only India at present. Prior to this announcement, Google had a strict policy of not allowing real-money games on its Play Store.
Only daily fantasy sports and rummy apps are allowed to participate in the pilot. The tech giant will not permit aggregators of other real money gaming and gaming products owned or operated by them or any third party, as well as services that include any functionality that provides access to these products.
Although it is still a limited pilot, WinZO claims that it unfairly favours only daily fantasy sports and rummy games, causing the company "business and commercial injury." It also claims that the policy calls into question Google's role "as an intermediary."
WinZO, whose investors include Griffin Gaming Partners and Makers Fund, claims to have a portfolio of over 100 games spanning six genres, including casual, e-sports, fantasy, and quizzes.
Google declined to comment on this lawsuit. The company had previously said that it is constantly exploring ways for local developers to "build successful businesses and offer delightful experiences on Google Play".
"Through this pilot program, we are taking a measured approach that will help us collate learnings and retain an enjoyable and safe experience for our users," a spokesperson said on September 8.
Moneycontrol had reported on September 9 that several founders and executives of skill-based gaming firms had termed the selective exclusion of other categories of skill games from the pilot as discriminatory and yet another example of the company’s arbitrary platform policies.
WinZO co-founder Saumya Singh Rathore said at the time that Google should reconsider this decision because it could cause long-term market distortion in "favour of already entrenched players and discourage innovation."
In a statement on September 20, Rathore said that there doesn't seem to be a reason to only select these two genres and there is no evaluation of the impact that is likely to result from such a "discriminatory and arbitrary classification". It has now sought a ruling that Google should allow all apps offering games of skill on its Playstore.
"This policy will not only reduce the marketing cost for players in monopoly to 1/4 th of their earlier spends but also create a false perception of legitimation of DFS and Rummy over all other games such as Carrom, Chess, Quiz, etc" she said.
Rathore said a level-playing field is key to innovation and success in the fast-evolving sunrise sector.
"Year-long pilot is detrimental to thousands of companies and can lead to irreversible market distortion of a fast-moving gaming tech industry, leading to death of many players as the strong gets stronger" she said.
WinZO offers games in over 12 languages such as English, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, and Bhojpuri, and claims to have over 85 million registered users. It partners with third-party developers to host games on their Android and iOS apps.Also Read: Google Play's pilot for fantasy and rummy apps gets mixed response from startup founders