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Updated January 22nd, 2024 at 16:48 IST

Equate the violence in games to regulations in OTT: Rajan Navani

The Indian Digital Gaming Society President also spoke on the need to separate animation and VFX industry from the gaming sector

Gauri Joshi
Pre Budget Expectations: Gaming Sector
Pre Budget Expectations for the Gaming Sector: Rajan Navani, IDGS President and JetSynthesys Founder and CEO | Image:Republic Business
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Self-regulation in gaming: There is a need to view the addictive component of video gaming as equivalent to over-the-top (OTT) platforms, according to Indian Digital Gaming Society (IDGS) President and JetSynthesys founder and CEO Rajan Navani.

Speaking to Republic Business on the Indian video gaming industry’s potential to gain from the e-sports phenomenon, The IDGS president also shed light on the sector’s expectations in terms of tax incentives ahead of the Union Budget on February 1.

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OTT v/s Gaming

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Addressing the component of addiction in video gaming, Navani said there are no regulations on OTT content which also exhibits traits of violence and addiction.

Last month, China had extended its 2021 ruling which banned online games from offering incentives for excessive gameplay and spending.

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“I think there comes a responsibility of the game developers of the communities that are sharing content in the video gaming industry in India. In terms of addiction, the OTT industry or platform has it equal (in terms of) binge-watching or content that is not age-appropriate. You have to give warnings and all of that,” he said.

The IDGS, he added, also encourages such responsible kind of messaging going out from game developers or publishers.

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Growth in Gaming

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Over the past three years, the online gaming industry has grown at a CAGR of 28 per cent reaching Rs 16,428 crore in FY23, as per an EY report.

According to the EY report titled “New frontiers - Navigating the evolving landscape for online gaming in India”, this number is likely to reach Rs 33,243 crore by FY28.

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Navani highlighted the potential of the $180 billion video gaming and e-sports industry and placed the onus of regulation on game-developing studios, instead of government intervention in the category.

Notably, e-sports has been confirmed as a medal sport for the Aichi-Nagoya Asian Games 2026.

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Appealing for policy support, Navani said people are playing global games and there is a need to build better talent for engineering, design and product, with an opportunity to create global talent out of India.

Pre-budget Demands

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Calling for a need to separate animation and VFX from gaming, he said the product-led and Intellectual Property (IP) aspect of gaming has the potential to cap a billion-dollar revenue out of one product.

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“I think it is very important to separate animation and VFX from gaming because both animation and VFX are largely services-led whereas gaming has the opportunity to give India an IP lead,” he said.

Notably, the government had announced a Rs 1,000 crore allocation towards the combined AVGC (Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics) sector.  

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Banking on the rise of the e-sports trend, he said there is a need to enhance the quality of games that people play.

“Here it is an opportunity of actually playing a game that can become a sport. India has the opportunity to create some organisational change…like any other sport where you practice, play more and the best possible wins more than the others,” he said.

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Real-money Gaming

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On the 28 per cent GST imposed on deposits in real money gaming, Navani said the taxation is making the overall business unviable.  

“After the GST, players are losing money in deposits to Rs 72 with a further Rs 10-15 taken by the companies. Will you risk a Rs 100 to win a Rs 20? The larger challenge lies in the fact that it is retrospective,” he said.

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Different countries have different policies around real-money gaming, with some putting it under gambling, and 5-6 states in India banning it.

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Published January 22nd, 2024 at 16:48 IST

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