Indian Gaming Giants Call for Policy Overhaul from New Government

Vignesh Raghuram
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Indian Gaming Giants Call for Policy Overhaul from New Government</p></div>
Indian Gaming Giants Call for Policy Overhaul from New Government


AFK Gaming

Over 70 companies from the Indian video games and esports industry, including representatives from Nodding Heads Games, developer of "Raji: An Ancient Epic," FAU-G: Domination developer Dot9 Games, Esports & Gaming Company NewGen Gaming, the Esports Federation of India (ESFI), and Indus Battle Royale creator SuperGaming, have formally requested the newly formed government to establish a clear distinction between video games and real money games.

In a representation letter addressed to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), industry leaders emphasized the need for fair and equitable policymaking to foster growth in this burgeoning sector.

Harish Chengaiah, founder and CEO of Outlier Games, who organized this initiative, highlighted the potential of the Indian video games industry. "The Indian Video Game Industry, which comprises purely entertainment-oriented digital games without monetary staking, is projected to be worth $942 million in 2024. By 2029, it is expected to reach $1.6 billion, surpassing the cumulative revenues of all Indian film industries and becoming the largest entertainment industry in India before the end of this decade," Chengaiah said. He called for a "measured and nuanced approach to video games," urging the government to engage in policy discussions to leverage video games' potential in spearheading India's creative economy and soft power aspirations.

In an exclusive statement to AFK Gaming, Anurag Khurana, CEO and Founder of Newgen Gaming, stressed the importance of distinguishing between real money gaming and online video games. "Due to the lack of clear distinction, users and even the media often mistake one for the other. We feel the nodal agency for the video games industry must be the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting because video games are entertainment," Khurana stated.

Roby John, CEO and Co-Founder of SuperGaming, echoed these sentiments in an exclusive statement to AFK Gaming. "As the gaming industry in India continues to grow, it is crucial that we establish clear distinctions between video games and real-money gaming. This differentiation is essential for the development and recognition of the video gaming sector while ensuring a safe and responsible environment for players," John noted. He emphasized that video games are a form of entertainment and artistic expression, distinct from gambling.

Key Recommendations From the Video Games Industry for National AVGC-XR Policy

The representation letter detailed ten suggestions for the National AVGC-XR Policy, underscoring the industry's need for regulatory clarity and support. Key recommendations include:

  1. Clear Categorization: The industry advocates breaking up the term "online games" into "video games" and "real money games" to address their unique nuances and ensure fairness. This differentiation is crucial to avoid unwarranted business disruptions and friction with international investors.

  2. Media Representation: The industry requests the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to issue a notification restricting media from using images of video games in coverage related to real money games to prevent public misconceptions.

  3. Regulatory Streamlining: The proposal suggests appointing the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as the nodal agency for video games, creating an AVGC-XR wing, and appointing a Nodal Officer to streamline regulations and enhance operational efficiency.

  4. Avoid Premature Regulations: Given the nascent stage of the Indian video game market, the industry urges the government to delay imposing regulations that could hinder growth, instead promoting the industry for a decade before introducing regulations.

  5. Support for Original IP Creation: Recommendations include setting up a Catalyst Fund, promoting IP development and export facilitation, and encouraging banks to recognize digital IP as collateral for business loans.

  6. Skilling & Vocational Training Initiatives: The industry calls for support for "Professors of Practice" and "Train the Trainer" models, and updating MESC and NSQF mechanisms. "The first generation of game makers is still working in the industry, the experts haven’t grown old enough to retire and become professors. This is one of the fundamental reasons why higher education quality is sub-par in the realm of game development and other verticals of AVGC-XR," the letter states. Institutes and vocational training centers should be given incentives to hire experienced professionals and conduct training programs.

  7. Education Reform: Higher education in game development lacks standardization and does not meet current industry demands. The industry recommends creating standards and quality benchmark frameworks for game development courses. New nomenclature and syllabi for courses such as Bachelor of Design in Game Design, Bachelor of Arts in Game Art, Bachelor of Technology in Game Programming, and Bachelor of Arts in Esports Management should be structured as four-year programs with multiple entry and exit routes.

  8. Market Access: Financial assistance for video gaming conference organizers to facilitate Indian delegations at international gaming events is recommended to enhance global business opportunities.

  9. Import Duty Rationalization: Suggestions include exempting proprietary development hardware from import duties and reducing duties on sophisticated production and post-production hardware.

  10. Corporate Tax Holidays and GST Rationalization: The industry seeks a reduction in GST on video games from 18% to 12% and a corporate tax break structure to attract investments and support sustainability.

The united front presented by the Indian Video Games Industry marks a significant step towards establishing a conducive environment for growth. By addressing these key areas, industry leaders believe they can unlock the sector's potential and position India as a global leader in video game development and entertainment.

"We are committed to supporting policies and regulations that reflect the unique nature of video games while protecting our players and the integrity of our industry," John concluded in his statement to AFK Gaming, encapsulating the industry's collective vision for a brighter future.

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Vignesh has been covering the esports industry for nearly 5 years starting with the early days of the DPC. His industry expertise includes experience in Dota 2, CS:GO and Mobile Esports coverage.