Paytm First Games is back on the Google Play Store, after being removed in September for violating Play Store’s gambling and real money gaming policies. The version of the fantasy gaming app restored on Play Store does not allow any real-money wagers — users cannot enter paid contests wherein they may receive cash prizes — ostensibly to remain in compliance with Google’s policies which do not permit real money gaming apps.
No entry into paid contests: We could not join any contests wherein entry was paid, that is when real money has to be invested for cash prizes. The app would initially accept requests to enter a paid contest, but then flashed a warning saying “you can only join Free contests in this version of app”. Notably it does not lead users to the actual Paytm First Games app, which has to be downloaded separately as an APK from the app website.
- The app also has something calling a “Bonus Account”, which is money earned by referral and completing tasks (we have ₹80, but do not recall any referrals or tasks). This account is separate from the wallet or “Deposit account” where you can add money. The amount in the Bonus account could not be used to enter paid contests.
In some cases, the app presumably deducted the amount from the bonus account for the user to enter a paid contest. But later, the payment would not go through (see “pending” entry fees in image #2 below), and the user would not be able to participate in a paid contest.
Entry permitted to free contests: Instead, the only contests we could participate in were free contests, which Paytm First Games has termed as “practice” games in some cases. One such contest is for a Mumbai India v. Rajasthan Royals game tonight that offers ₹2 to players who rank anywhere between 1 to 10,000. There is, however, no entry fee — meaning that this prize money seems to be borne by Paytm First Games. It seems that you can win real money on this version of the app, provided you haven’t paid to participate in a contest. We have reached out to Paytm about this. Another such free contest that we were able to enter had no reward, and is ostensibly just a practice game.
We were able to enter both these contests, but the apps seems to be buggy: it keeps asking us to rejoin the game (even when we had already done so). The app also logged us out twice in an hour of use.
It’s worth noting that a majority of the contests on Paytm First Games are paid / real money contests. For the Mumbai v. Rajasthan game tonight, there are 9 paid contests and 2 free contests. Users using the Play Store version of the app cannot enter the paid contests, though these contests are visible. Paytm may not make much money off this version of the app, but will at least manage to have a presence on the Play Store.
How does Paytm First Games app work? Promoted by Sachin Tendulkar, Paytm First Games (like other such apps) allows users to form their own fantasy sports teams. Ahead of real world matches and tournaments, users can pay money to enter contests which pool everyone’s money to offer a prize to the players with the highest points. How do you score points? If the players in your “team” perform well in the real world game, fantasy gaming platforms award you with points. For instance, if a players in your team makes a run, takes a wicket, or hits a six, you will get 1 point, 25 points, and 8 points, respectively. The platform then takes a cut of the prize money and distributes it among winners who have accumulated the most points. The prize money and how much each winning user will get are predecided.
The actual Paytm First Games app (sideloaded APK version) said it does not permit users from Assam, Nagaland, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim to play fantasy sports using cash. This is likely given regulations governing fantasy gaming and real money gaming in these states.
Most fantasy gaming platforms absent from Play Store: The Paytm First Games was removed from the Play Store, allegedly because it violated Google’s policies on real money gaming. Even the Paytm app was temporarily removed for allegedly enabling Paytm First Games. The apps was removed just before IPL 2020 kicked off. Since Google does not permit real money gaming or tournaments apps on the Play Store, fantasy gaming apps that involve fees on participation are ostensibly banned. This is why virtually all fantasy gaming platforms in India are absent from the Google Play Store, but their Android apps can be “sideloaded” — their APKs can be downloaded and installed on Android-powered phones. For instance, Dream11, perhaps the most popular fantasy gaming platform, is this missing from the Play Store but available on their website.
Rising anger in India against Google: Anger against Google and its alleged dominance has been rising, as the company plays an increasingly powerful gatekeeper role for app distribution. Google has given developers and startups in India an additional six months to comply with the 30% commission on app-related payments. Indian startup founders are upset with Google and around 30-40 of them have had a meeting with Ministry of Electronics and IT (MEITY), which has asked for a compilation of issues around the dominance of Google and other large platforms in the country.
Notably, Paytm chief Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Dream11’s Harsh Jain were present in this meeting. One of the issues raised against Google was the fact that it does not permit fantasy sports companies, even though real-money gaming has been permitted for some of them by the Supreme Court of India, and that this contradiction doesn’t abide by the Constitution of India.