Social gaming seems to be everywhere at the moment. On Droid Slots we’ve talked at much length about how the tightening restrictions within the real money gaming world have left operators an developers eyeing up social gaming as a way of avoiding tax and regulations, and up profits by not having to pay out to players in anything other than game perks and the occasional prize. We’ll be seeing a lot more of them soon, though, as Google announced this week that it would be relaxing the rules surrounding how social gaming games and apps appear in its ads and AdWords.
Recently the UK Gambling Commission announced that it would not be looking to regulate the social gaming, sending a clear sign to the world that it does not consider social gaming as a threat to people suffering from problem gambling or children. It is probably a coincidence that Google’s announcement comes at this time, but both moves are representative of the ever changing attitudes towards social gaming.
What does the change mean?
Google Ads and AdWords are basically little digital billboards which come up in search results, or on site and on apps which have given permission to Google to use as advertising space. They're ads which companies have paid for, and are displayed to users who are likely to be interested in whatever product or services is being advertised.
While social and real money gambling sites and apps have always been able to pay for ads on Google, up until now both have been subject to strict rules – including having to get Google's permission to use them, having to display information about problem gambling, and not targeting children. However, from March Google will start allowing social gaming apps and sites to use Google Ads without being subject to the same rules as real money sites.
Basically what this shows is that Google ‘condones’ social gaming. While it still sees real money gambling as something that needs to have a eye kept on it – like the UKGC – it has decided that the danger to users is so minimal, there’s no point regulating social gaming ads anymore.
What will this mean for players?
Probably very little. Most of the changes are the kind of behind the scenes things that'll go unnoticed by most users. The ads will look pretty much the same, but keen eyed people might start noticing them popping up in places they weren't previously found. People usually ignore these ads anyway, so I can’t imagine you’re going to change your habits much. If you are looking for real money gaming, you’re probably going to be exposed to social gaming a whole lot more, and that may suit you or annoy you, depending on your way of thinking.
Will real money sites be able to advertise soon?
No, I thoroughly doubt it. While this is a big deal for social gaming, I doubt Google will follow suit with real money gaming. Just like tobacco it’s considered too much of a vice to advertise in many places, and Google is very up on its ethical commitments to its users. Google will continue to regulate real money ads to ensure that unscrupulous operators don't target at risk players and children – which is a good thing.