Gaming firm Winzo lists on govt’s mSeva app store amid Google lawsuit
Delhi-based online gaming startup Winzo on Thursday announced that its app will be available for download from the central government’s own mobile app store, mSeva. With this listing, Winzo becomes the third app of commercial prominence to be available on mSeva, alongside online payments platform Paytm and social media app Koo.
The mSeva app store, built in 2011, has seen limited success so far — even after a renewed push for adoption last year. On April 18, Mint reported that the service saw less than 90 million app downloads after over 11 years in service — as opposed to over 27 billion app downloads in the country in 2021.
Saumya Singh Rathore, cofounder of Winzo, said in a statement that the mSeva listing will help increase the service’s outreach by “multiple folds”.
Winzo’s listing on mSeva comes amid the latter’s lawsuit against Android maker Google. On September 21, the startup filed a suit against Google at the Delhi High Court, alleging that Google’s decision to allow online gaming services that offered only fantasy sports and rummy were “arbitrary” and “discriminatory”.
The lawsuit itself was filed based on a change to Google’s Play Store policy that came into effect on September 7. Under this new policy, the Mountain View, California-based company enabled a “limited time pilot program” to list online gaming apps offering ‘daily fantasy sports’ (DFS) and rummy. Until this time, distribution of any such app on the Play Store was banned, in light of Google’s Play Store policies against gambling services.
Winzo’s media statement on its listing on mSeva said that the move was aimed at “breaking Google’s monopoly over selection and distribution of applications and high commission charges.” The statement further said that 95% of all smartphones in India run on Android, giving Google the ability to “heavily dominate” the industry.
Google’s discriminatory Play Store policies have already attracted fines of up to ₹2,337 crore from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) across two penalties, with one of them citing discriminatory market practices and policies of the Play Store.
However, India’s online gaming industry itself stands at a flux at the moment. While the Supreme Court has so far set a precedent of ruling in favour of separating online gaming from gambling, a recent Tamil Nadu ordinance appeared to have clubbed the two. The latter is expected to be challenged at the apex court, next year.
In a separate instance, fellow homegrown online gaming startup, Gameskraft, was imposed with a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of ₹21,000 crore — as against the startup’s own assessment of ₹1,500 crore. In hearings so far, legal representatives of Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) have argued that Gameskraft falls under the ambit of ‘actionable claims’ since their offering falls under gambling — and that the GST imposition must be upheld to protect the interests of the ministry division.