Over 40 Indian video games and esports companies have sent a representation to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) requesting a regulatory distinction between video games and real money games in the proposed amendments to the IT Rules 2021. The signatories include Outlier Games, Supergaming, Ludo King maker Gametion and game streaming platforms Loco and Rooter.
The current draft notification combines “video games” and “online games played for stakes”. Globally, online games that do not involve staking money and are purely played for entertainment are typically categorized ‘Video Games’ and the industry developing and publishing them is referred to as the ‘Games Industry’ or ‘Video Games Industry’ said the statement.
Online games that involve staking money such as Real Money Games (RMGs) and Fantasy Sports are governed by separate online gambling legislation of the respective nations.
This distinction is so stark, that no country in the world includes revenues from the “real money games played for stakes” industry while preparing market research reports and analyzing data points such as revenue generation, taxes, user base etc, it said in a press release.
“As India’s gamers grow in numbers and evolve in terms of preference, it’s crucial that the rules evolve as well. Gamers themselves clearly distinguish between real money gaming, fantasy sports, and free-to-play games, this distinction should exist on the regulatory side as well. This would ensure best-in-class protections exist for the half a billion or so gamers in India,” said Roby John, CEO and cofounder, SuperGaming.
The game developers are seeking a stakeholder meeting with MeitY to discuss this further.
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Earlier this month, the government announced draft regulations, bringing the nascent online gaming industry under MeitY. It is currently in talks with various stakeholders to finalise the proposed amendments to the Indian IT Act to regulate the sector. Apart from creating a regulatory distinction, the regulators want video games to be regulated through an India-specific age and content rating mechanism by setting up a video games industry-specific self-regulatory body.
It also recommends creating a framework to deal with issues like children’s addiction to video games, their exposure to in-game purchases, age-inappropriate content and online harm.
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