With the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) weighing on the proposed amendments to the IT Rules, 2021, in relation to online gaming, the country’s video games industry has requested a regulatory distinction between video games and real money games.
Over 40 Indian video games and esports companies have rallied together and written to MeitY to request a comprehensive, video games-focused policy in line with global best practices. In the letter, the industry has also sought a stakeholder meeting with MeitY.
The current draft notification combines “video games” and “online games played for stakes” into the same regulatory purview.
Globally, online games that do not involve staking money and are purely played for entertainment are typically categorized as “Video Games” and the industry developing and publishing them is referred to as the “Games Industry” or “Video Games Industry”, the Industry said in its press release.
Adding that all online games that involve staking of money such as Real Money Games (RMGs) and Fantasy Sports are governed by separate online gambling legislation of the respective nations and the industry that develops, publishes, and operates such RMGs and Fantasy Sports is collectively referred to as the “iGaming Industry”.
Globally, the video game and esports industry is valued at $184 billion in 2022 and excludes revenue from RMG and Fantasy Sports games played for stakes.
The industry has requested that MeitY as the nodal agency for ‘online gaming’ should take cognizance of the nuances between the two industries and should adopt measures that are in line with global best practices.
The gaming industry has put forth a number of recommendations to the government. It has asked the government to “create a regulatory distinction between “Video Games” and “Online Games that are played for stakes” in line with global best practices, as opposed to bringing them within a broad categorisation and definition of ‘online gaming’
The industry has further recommended that video games be regulated through an India-specific age and content rating mechanism by setting up a Video Games Industry-specific SRB in line with global standards such as PEGI in the EU and ESRB in North America.
“Creating a robust framework to deal with issues such as children’s addiction to video games, their exposure to in-game purchases, age-inappropriate content and online harm. These frameworks are also to be ideally regulated by the Video Games Industry specific SRB in line with global standards such as COPPA in the USA and GDPR in the EU,” the gaming industry said.
The companies that have signed the letter include Ludo King maker Gametion, Raji: An Ancient Epic developer Nodding Heads Games, FAU-G developer Ncore, Loco, Rooter, Indus, and MaskGun creator SuperGaming, among others.