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Google Play Embraces Digital Assets & NFTs: What You Need to Know

Joel Frank
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Google, Instagram

In an unprecedented move, Google Play, the popular Andriod app and game marketplace, has announced policy changes to allow the integration of digital assets such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into its platform.

Google Play Group Product Manager, Joseph Mills, unveiled the policy shift on Wednesday via a blog post.

In it, he underlined that the move will usher in a new era of enriched user experiences and novel forms of user content.

The policy change stipulates that developers will now be permitted to incorporate blockchain-based elements like NFTs in their apps and games, as long as they maintain full transparency with users about the presence of these digital assets.

Google Play’s move has been lauded as an innovative way to reconceptualize traditional games, allowing unique user-owned content, and augmenting user loyalty through rare NFT rewards.

Reddit, a forerunner in leveraging the potential of blockchain technology, notably via its Avatar NFTs, partnered with Google in the run-up to the policy shift.

Developers Banned from Glamorizing Potential Earnings to Protect Users

“While tokenized assets are meant to build more enriched, immersive experiences,” Mills noted, “as an added user protection, developers may not promote or glamorize any potential earning from playing or trading activities.”

This move upholds Google Play’s existing Real-Money Gambling, Games, and Contests policy, which forbids apps from promoting paid mechanisms, such as ‘loot boxes’, that offer a chance to win tokenized assets, including NFTs, unless they meet specific gambling eligibility requirements.

Mills explained that these limitations on digital asset promotions could prevent crypto newcomers from being tricked into buying tokenized assets on the assumption that they could secure massive financial gains.

Google Play’s new guidelines will be put to the test in late summer as developers start integrating these new features into their apps.

Google said it anticipates that the full rollout of the policy will occur later this year, marking a significant turning point in its relationship with blockchain technology.

Will Apple Follow Google’s Big Policy Shift?

Prior to the latest policy change, Google Play’s approach to blockchain-based apps had been relatively restrictive.

Some, like Bitcoin Blast, had been inexplicably removed from the store in the past.

However, the store’s stance towards blockchain and decentralized applications (dApps) appeared to soften in 2022.

In 2022, ArDrive Mobile, a decentralized data storage app, and Axie Infinity: Origins were both added to Google Play in select markets.

While Google’s stance on blockchain-powered applications has now come full circle, Apple, one of Google Play’s key competitors, maintains its cautious stance on digital assets.

Indeed, the integration of digital assets into Apple-based apps remains highly restricted by added fees on NFT sales and strict rules on NFT functionality within apps.

As Google Play pushes the boundaries of app marketplace policy with these updates, it remains to be seen how Apple will respond and whether it will follow suit to adapt to the burgeoning blockchain landscape.