The year 2020 has seen a tremendous surge in the gaming sector. Due to covid 19 outburst, lockdown and halt in fresh content production for TV, theatres and OTT lead to an unexpected growth in the gaming sector as people were consuming more of gaming content while at home. The growth has come to the notice of the government too and PM Narendra Modi also aims to push the industry to create more homegrown gaming and toys highlighting the Indian mythology, Indian culture and so on. Therefore for 2021 Union Budget the gaming industry stalwarts are expecting the government to roll out dedicated policies, schemes and so on for esports and gaming.
Last year at the Union budget, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced to host initiatives under ‘New Economy’. Some of the steps included the creation of National Mission on Quantum Technologies and applications with an outlay of Rs 8,000 crore proposed, then rolling out of a policy to enable the private sector to build Data Centre parks throughout the country. “It will enable our firms to skillfully incorporate data in every step of their value chains,” FM said.
This year the budget 2021-22 will be presented on 1 February and here are the expectations from the gaming industry:
JetSynthesys vice chairman and managing director, Indian Digital Gaming Society first national president, Confederation of Indian Industry’s CII National Council on Future Businesses current chairman, and CII Council on India@75 chairman Rajan Navani shared, “While 2020 was affected by the pandemic, it was also the year that made individuals and companies across the board realise the power of technology. To stay ahead of the curve, organizations accelerated digital transformation to reenergize themselves at breakneck speeds in a bid to reset and survive.With the technological disruption gradually becoming a catalyst for traditional and new age companies, it is expected that the government will make the necessary investments in technology hubs, which in turn will help in strengthening emerging technologies like cybersecurity, COE, AI, ML, AR/VR, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Research firm, Gartner also predicts that the emergence of IoT is already contributing to significant market growth, and within five to 10 years new technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and AR/VR will also expand. This year’s Union Budget needs to make way for relevant measures to ensure that the right amount of investment is given to tech build-up, favorable tax policies, and other opportunities. The gaming market in India is also growing rapidly and if incentivised can lead to new generation job creation. Furthermore, as India’s smartphone penetration and broadband connectivity develops further, we are also likely to see the budget focus on aspects around strengthening our digital infrastructure. Currently, figures boasting the emergence of digitised India are primarily led by the urban masses, however, by 2023, 650 million that is, 48 per cent of internet users, will hail from rural areas. This surge in users will need a strong digital infrastructure, especially in tier II and tier III markets, so they can also enjoy the perks of faster and quicker data. Most importantly, we hope to see this year’s budget bring back the economy’s earlier momentum which was badly impacted due to the pandemic.”
NODWIN Gaming CEO Sidharth Kedia shared, “The unprecedented impact on the economy due to the COVID-19 situation has left many industries looking for a revival in the Union Budget 2021. Gaming and esports had a fruitful year indeed, with higher revenues and increased user base, the sector saw a monumental growth in a matter of months. That being said, we are yet to get some crucial reforms that would shape the Indian esports market in a real tangible way. Recognition of esports as a sport is long overdue, countries like the US, Finland and Germany have already made that shift. I hope that the government will realise the potential of the esports market and its infinite prospects. Secondly, we would like to insist that there needs to be a regulation in place that forbids any esports from charging any kind of fee, be it for participation or event entry. One of the most important reforms would be the tax exemption on the prize pools. No matter how big the prize pool is, the organisations take 30-40 per cent cut after a 30 per cent tax deduction from the total winning prize. That can sometimes be a demotivator for a professional esports athlete. It is highly unlikely to get promoted and recognised without the backing of a strong organisation; hence professional players refrain from going independent. And lastly, as this industry is still evolving all the current and future incumbents will immensely benefit from a faster process refund of direct and indirect taxes and also this will ensure high adherence to tax rules.”
Mobile Premier League(MPL) co-founder and CEO Sai Srinivas shared, “The year of the global pandemic and the necessary lockdown has been especially hard on the economy, and we are expecting that the Finance Minister will focus on watering the green shoots. While the current financial year has been almost a washout for most sectors, the mobile gaming sector saw one of its fastest growth periods. It has been the year of exponential growth for what was a fledgling industry less than two years ago. Esports and gaming are multi-billion dollar propositions in countries worldwide. Taking note of the potential of the gaming industry, the Honourable Prime Minister had also noted that India should lead the international digital gaming sector. We believe that this is eminently possible with some support from the Government in the Financial Budget:
- There is a tremendous opportunity to support the game developers in India to make India the hub of gaming in the future. With this in mind, we would look forward to budget allocation for the creation of a Gaming Fund, which would incentivise more developers to access seed capital to set up gaming development companies
- Increase funds into the Start-Up India initiative that would encourage more gaming start-ups to flourish in the Country, creating healthy competition that would yield more significant innovation and ingenuity, fuelling the industry
- There is an almost insatiable demand for new games. While we have a significant pool of skilled workforce, we should plan for the burgeoning requirement by directing funds into education and skilling programs to support the next generation of coders, designers.
The growth of the gaming eco-system has a multiplier effect in terms of government revenue and employment generation, not to mention the long-term aspiration of becoming the ‘game developer to the world’ much like India is the ‘pharmacy to the world.”
Paytm First Games COO Sudhanshu Gupta shared, “We hope that the government will bring out a centralized regulatory framework that is followed by all states across the country. At the moment, the gaming industry is juggling between different state laws and has to jump through policy hurdles at times. We believe the addition of skill-based games along with fantasy sports under one umbrella policy for the online skill gaming industry. Along with this, relaxation in taxation norms will also help in promoting this sector and help India to emerge as the hub of online gaming in the world in the time to come. With Niti Aayogs’ upcoming regulations and similar other positive initiatives, we are expecting a more conducive regulatory environment that would give a boost to the online gaming sector in the country.”
Indian Gaming League CEO Yash Pariani shared, “Talking about the overall online gaming industry, we believe that it is on the rise. Moreover, instances like PUBG ban and the introduction of FAU-G has brought esports into the limelight and thus, leading to its growth. I expect that the government should devote a certain share to the online gaming industry as it is on the heights of growth and would be able to contribute towards economic development as well since Esports and Online Gaming is being pursued by a lot of individuals now.”
Dangal Games CEO and founder Varun Mahna shared, “Due to the ceaseless revolution in the mobile and internet sector, online gaming is now riding beyond the age and socio-economic groups. After taking a small hint from the global e-sports’ markets, I believe that India could develop certain policies in the upcoming union budget, which would help young entrepreneurs to venture into gaming businesses. According to NASSCOM, the Indian gaming industry closes a business of somewhat $890 million every year. It means that more than 100 gaming startups in India require professionals from artists to designers, programmers and engineers. If the Govt uses a more channelized approach, then a whole pool of career and job opportunities would open up for Indian youth. The budget 2021-22 has a lot more focus on various ever-green sectors. If the focus shifts a little towards our sector of online gaming, then the ministry could widen-up the investment limit, which will eventually infuse more capital into the economy. And, we have seen some developments looping around, but the measures that I have mentioned above, if taken into action, then it would be really beneficial for the entire economy.”
Esports Federation of India director Lokesh Suji shared, “We expect the budget to not only be empowering to the industries but also to be incentivising in nature for the esports ecosystem, integration of technology and investments in improving the infrastructure will create new opportunities for youth in esports and video gaming sector. The government can encourage and back homegrown game developers and startups and it will become a great opportunity to promote Make in India brand globally in the esports and gaming sector. The government should consider recognising and regulating esports as any other sport.”