On Jan 11, 2024, Google announced that after several years of running pilot programs, Google Play will support more Real Money Gaming (RMG) apps in 2024. The expanded program will become permanent in new countries such as India, Mexico, and Brazil, with more territories due for expansion in the future.
Here is a section of the announcement from Google. The full announcement can be read on The Android Developers Blog;
“Based on the learnings from the pilots and positive feedback from users and developers, Google Play will begin supporting more RMG apps this year, including game types and operators not covered by an existing licensing framework. We’ll launch this expanded RMG support in June to developers for their users in India, Mexico, and Brazil and plan to expand to users in more countries.
We’re pleased that this new approach will provide new business opportunities to developers globally while continuing to prioritize user safety. It also enables developers currently participating in RMG pilots in India and Mexico to continue offering their apps on Play.”
What does this mean for advertisers?
Currently, the Google Play Store does not allow Real Money Gaming (RMG) apps. This is in contrast to the Apple App Store, which does allow this category. For RMG apps such as Skillz, Papaya, Tether, etc, the difference in approach has significantly hindered the onboarding process for Android users.
Until now, developers have had to segment out Samsung users who can download in the Samsung Galaxy Store and/or direct Android users to download an APK file, circumventing the Playstore.
Therefore, allowing RMG downloads on the Google Play Store is a win-win. Google improves its offering and can increase search revenue and service fees, and consumers can more easily find and securely download the games they are interested in.
What is the ‘size of the prize?’
The US is the largest market for RMG, so if the Play Store allows downloads in the future, that will significantly impact the industry. India, Mexico, and Brazil are also very large markets for RMG, so this aligns with Google’s current testing roadmap.
According to GWI 2023, combined app store revenue for the “Cards” and “Casino” categories is nearly $8 billion worldwide (note that this figure includes RMG games and non-RMG games that offer in-app purchases) and will likely increase in years to come. Incorporating a better Android experience will supercharge the growth trajectory for this vertical.
How should RMG developers prep for this expansion?
It makes sense to trial Android campaigns in these new markets (India, Mexico, and Brazil) as soon as they become available in June. Not only are these large and lucrative markets to tap into, but they will allow brands to establish learnings and benchmarks before other markets are allowed. It is not clear yet when additional markets will be available, but if all goes well with the three initial countries, Google may roll the program out more widely quickly, perhaps even before the end of 2024.
What should developers pay attention to?
There are a couple of points to pay attention to, such as;
Firstly, adhering to Google’s existing developer policies
Ensuring companies abide by these policies is the first step to opening up their apps to a much larger potential user base and, therefore, critical to growth. Age, geo, and messaging guardrails are all things to consider. For example, “Requiring age-gating to limit RMG experiences to adults and requiring developers use geo-gating to offer RMG apps only where legal.”
Getting banned from the Play Store before starting would be a shame.
Secondly, Google’s evolving service fee models
Although details of this have not been defined yet, companies must pay close attention to the evolving fee structures involved in being supported on the Play Store for RMG. It’s clear that Google recognizes RMG as a lucrative industry and is setting itself up to take a significant cut of profits.
With the next wave of markets and some finer details still to be announced, it would be important for any brand operating within this space to stay fully up-to-date with developments to give itself a competitive edge.
This opportunity should be treated as a top priority once rolled out in respective markets. Given the RMG landscape is already incredibly competitive & the games are similar, being a first mover (when the time comes) could be critical to market share within the vertical.
Whilst there are no immediate timelines for the rollout to be applied to the US market, all US RMG advertisers should pay close attention to the news coming out of Google connected to this announcement.
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