The gaming industry in India has welcomed the recommendations made by the government’s Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic (AVGC) council to the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry on December 26. Experts said that the council’s recommendations, if followed, will help provide a big boost to the industry, especially game developers, and lead to the development of more big-ticket games from India. They added that it will also help create more intellectual property (IP) in gaming from India.
The task force was set up in April by the I&B Ministry to give suggestions on how to promote animation, visual effects, gaming, comics, and extended reality in the country, in addition to creating more jobs, raising funds and providing support to startups in the sector.
The task force suggestions include a ‘create in India’ campaign, setting up of a game development fund, easy access to micro-loans for the AVGC sector, and taxation-related incentives.
“The India AVGC Mission as envisioned will help in more local content and IP creation, and help take Indian stories to the world. Annual Gaming Expo and the Game Development Fund, will help the industry provide more opportunities for MSME players to get access to resources and partnerships, and lead to an increase in games with Indian ethos,” said Roland Landers, CEO of All India Gaming Federation (AIGF).
Landers added that with the “right incentives” and “technical knowledge” the number of AAA gaming titles developed in India will also grow. AAA games are high-budget games, which have long marketing programs attached to them, and often even lead to development of films, merchandise etc. around them. Examples of such games include French publisher Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed, Microsoft-owned Halo and more.
India is one of the fastest-growing gaming markets in the world. According to a November report by gaming-focused investor Lumikai, India’s gaming market clocked $2.6 billion in revenue in FY22 and is expected to grow to $8.6 billion in FY27. The average revenue per paying user grew by 11% to $20 a year in FY22, the report said.
Even so, game development work, especially for AAA titles, has been scarce in comparison to the US, Europe, South Korea, and Japan. This is despite the fact that a large part of development work for such games, like creating artwork, is done by Indian firms like Lakshya Digital.
Though some global firms such as Rockstar and Ubisoft have set up local studios, core game development work still mostly happens in the US and other markets.
According to experts, the task force’s recommendations can change this. “Till now Indian studios were working on the ideas and services provided by foreign companies. Establishing studios and game development platforms in our own country and publishing games will provide a boost to our economy,” said Bharat Patel, Chairman, and Director, Yudiz Solutions, a game development firm.
Experts also lauded the AVGC task force for identifying the lack of a national-level regulatory framework as a major challenge. In a notification on December 23, the government announced that the gaming sector will be regulated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and e-sports (which includes competitive gaming events) will fall under the purview of the Sports Ministry.
“We are happy to note that the report acknowledges the key challenges faced by the industry currently i.e uncertainty on taxation and lack of a national level regulatory framework,” said Amrit Mathur, Advisor to Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), while praising the appointment of nodal ministries.
“The appointment of MeitY as the central regulatory authority will provide clarity & certainty to investors, industry, and consumers,” he said.