Interpreting Google Play’s Digital Assets Policy: NFTs are allowed to appear in apps and games, but mining on devices is not allowed.

NFTs can appear in apps and games, but device mining is prohibited under Google Play's Digital Assets Policy.

Author: Jordan, BlockingNews

Compiled from Google and Coindes sources

On July 13th, Google “unexpectedly” announced that its app store, Google Play, has adjusted its policy on tokenized digital assets, which is a major policy change because developers will be able to integrate NFTs and other digital assets into apps and games on Google Play.

Google stated that as blockchain technology continues to rapidly develop, their goal is to provide a platform for developers to thrive in innovation and create richer, immersive experiences for users. With regard to the latest adjusted policy, Google will consider blockchain-based content as tokenized digital assets protected by blockchain, and if the application contains blockchain-based content, it must comply with relevant requirements.

Specific contents of Google Play’s new policy

According to the policy announcement released by Google, the tech giant has introduced blockchain-based content policy in Google Play, requiring developers to complete an application declaration so that users can trade blockchain-based digital content (NFT games also need to comply with other requirements to improve user transparency and security), mainly including the following four aspects:

1. Cryptocurrency exchanges and software wallets

The purchase, possession or trading of cryptocurrency should be done through certified services in regulated jurisdictions.

Application developers must also comply with applicable regulations in any region or country/region targeted by the app, and avoid publishing related apps in places where products and services are prohibited. Google Play may require additional information or documents regarding compliance with any applicable regulations or licensing requirements.

2. Cryptocurrency mining

Google does not allow applications to mine cryptocurrency on devices, but allows applications to remotely manage cryptocurrency mining.

3. Transparency requirements for tokenized digital asset distribution

If the app sells or allows users to earn tokenized digital assets, it must declare it through the financial function declaration form on the app content page in the Google Play management center. When creating in-app products, the involvement of tokenized digital assets must be explained in the product details, and no potential income from game or trading activities can be advertised or embellished.

  1. NFT Gamification Additional Requirements

According to Google Play’s gambling, gaming, and contests policy requirements, gambling applications that integrate tokenized digital assets (such as NFTs) must complete the application process. For all other applications that do not meet the eligibility requirements for gambling applications and are not included in other real-money game pilots, no anything of monetary value should be accepted or raised in exchange for the opportunity to obtain “value unknown NFTs”. The NFTs purchased by users should be consumed or used in the game to enhance the user’s experience or help the user advance in the game. NFTs cannot be used for betting or pledging in exchange for the chance to win real-world monetary prizes (including other NFTs).

Under this clause, Google lists two examples of violations:

  • Selling applications bundled with NFTs without disclosing the specific content and value of the NFTs.
  • Providing paid play social gambling games that reward NFTs, such as slot machine apps.

Can Google’s adjustment of its app store digital asset policy boost the NFT and blockchain game market?

Joseph Mills, group product manager of Google Play, said that under Google’s new policy, partners will be able to rethink traditional games of “user ownership of content” and increase user loyalty through unique NFT rewards. It is worth mentioning that Reddit is one of Google’s partners in formulating the new policy, and this social giant has achieved tremendous success through Avatar NFTs. According to the latest data from Dune Analytics, the number of Reddit Collectible Avatar NFT holders is as high as 13,172,700, and the total number of minted Reddit Collectible Avatar NFTs exceeds 17.09 million, with a market value exceeding 56 million U.S. dollars.

Matt Williamson, senior engineering manager at Reddit, admitted that the updated Google digital asset policy will create a more level playing field, promote user trust, and responsibly use blockchain technology. In fact, user trust is very important for the “fragile” cryptocurrency industry. Google stipulates that although tokenized assets are intended to build richer, immersive experiences, as an additional user protection, developers cannot advertise or beautify any potential income from games or transaction activities, which means that applications that do not meet the requirements cannot promote the purchase of “loot boxes” and other in-game items to win the opportunity to obtain NFTs.

Overall, Google’s move indicates a shift in attitude towards Web3. After all, Google’s policy towards blockchain-based applications has been criticized by the crypto community as a “black box” for quite some time, with no clear explanations given for actions such as kicking out games like Bitcoin Blast from the Google Play Store in 2021.

However, it seems that Google is beginning to rethink its stance on cryptocurrencies. In 2022, Google Play reinstated the decentralized data storage application ArDrive Mobile, and later allowed Axie Infinity: Origin to appear on selected Google Play markets. In April of this year, Google Cloud also launched the “Google for Startups Cloud Program” and opened it up to Web3 industry builders. Qualified projects ranging from Pre-Seed to Series A can apply for the program, which includes up to 200,000 USD worth of Google Cloud credits over two years, as well as other technical support to help Web3 developers accelerate their startups.

There is no doubt that Google’s new digital asset policy will give a boost to the sluggish crypto market, especially the NFT market. The new policy will be fully launched later this year, and its effectiveness in the future is worth paying attention to.

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