Indian gaming companies are asking the government to distinguish between real money games and video games
More than 40 notable Indian video game and esports companies have come together to demand the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to create a clear regulatory distinction between video games and gaming applications in real money. The group wants a formal meeting with the ministry to suggest the development of rules and share their opinions and ideas to help better understand the medium before it negatively affects the Indian video game industry as a whole. A Letter of Representation, signed by key industry figures, has been sent to the Government of India, which currently combines video games (played for entertainment only) and online games played for stakes (real money betting) under the same regulatory jurisdiction. The performance was organized by Chennai-based Outlier Games, who recently developed space survival indie title This Means Warp.
“As Indian gamers grow in numbers and evolve in preferences, it is crucial that the rules also evolve. We hope to see a clear regulatory distinction between video games and real money games to ensure that the best protections of their category exist for around half a billion gamers in India,” Roby John, CEO and co-founder of SuperGaming said in a Prepared Affirmation.The Pune-based studio first entered the limelight with a few mobile games – MaskGun and Silly Royale – before expanding into the PC segment with Indus, a futuristic battle royale title that draws heavily from Indian culture.
A press release was released jointly by the companies and includes portrayals of key individuals from studios including SuperGaming, Gametion, creator of Ludo King, and Nodding Heads Games – creators of Game Award-nominated Raji: An Ancient Epic . In the statement, the group requested an audience with the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology and Skills Development, Rajeev Chandrasekhar. “Generally, online games that do not involve wagering money and are purely played for entertainment are generally categorized as ‘video games’ and the industry that develops and publishes them is referred to as the ‘industry gaming” or “video game industry,” said the release notes. In these countries, games involving real-money stakes or fantasy sports are governed by separate online gaming legislation, the industry being referred to as the “iGaming Industry”.
“This distinction is so clear that no country in the world includes revenue from the ‘real money games played for stakes’ industry while preparing market research reports and analyzing data points such whether revenue generation, taxes or user base,” the statement added. With this request, the Indian video game industry made three key recommendations, which begin with the creation of a “regulatory distinction” between real video games and online games played for real stakes involving money. The companies have also taken on board the government’s concerns over video games, which involve addiction, violence and sexual themes. They suggest the latter can be addressed by creating a mechanism for rating specific age and content to India similar to PEGI in Europe and ESRB in the North.
When it comes to battling video game addiction, the companies recommended creating a robust framework aimed at reducing exposure to in-game purchases and age-inappropriate content. “These frameworks should also ideally be regulated by the video game industry-specific SRB [(Software Rating Board)] in accordance with global standards such as COPPA in the US and GDPR in the EU,” according to the press release. In a separate document, the video game companies also outlined some anti-addiction measures, such as tracking activity reports and screen time and helping parents set timers.
Earlier this month, the government proposed a self-regulatory mechanism, mandatory player and physical address verification for the country’s online gambling companies, which will be covered by new IT rules released in 2021. is this same amendment that puts real video games and real money games under the same scope of regulation, on which the aforementioned companies intend to create a dialogue.