Online games have grown tremendously in the Indian market in recent years with the boom in the mobile games industry. As the shortage of semiconductor chips has affected the PC and console markets, mobile gaming has increased in volume.
People are no longer playing titles just for fun as the esports section of mobile gaming has also evolved. Considering the number of young demographics getting involved in the activity, the Indian government has discussed a roadmap to regulate the world of online gambling.
However, there are strong arguments against this, as it could do more harm than good.
Online games differ from most other games, especially modern live service titles. Most of these games are free, especially on phones.
Although there are microtransactions, they are not required to be competitive in these titles. This makes games like BGMI and Free Fire extremely popular among young people.
The ability to be competitive and compete with strangers and friends makes them exciting choices. This is the potential reach that the government has noticed, and it believes that a proper roadmap is needed.
Any official regulations on online gambling could disrupt the industry
It is undeniable that regulation is necessary for the efficient operation of most industries. A lack of the same can open the sector to particular problems that can harm all stakeholders.
When it comes to online gambling, regulations might have their own set of benefits. However, there might also be some drawbacks due to the special nature of online gambling.
According to reports, India has the second highest online gambling base, after China. Although the breakdown of mobile and non-mobile games is not available, there is no denying the role of games like PUBG, Free Fire, etc.
The strength of the market is well understood by some facts like FIFA Mobile opening a separate server for the Indian subcontinent.
Incidentally, PUBG Mobile was banned in India for an extended period, but Krafton decided to create a separate client for the Indian region. Both examples show the potential market available to developers to their advantage.
Some aspects of these games can be harmful. Microtransactions is an area that has been criticized in many countries.
Many makers believe that children can become addicted to the game due to the loot box mechanics of these titles.
Another significant issue is the potential screen time a child could spend due to these games. There has been violence from teenagers due to their parents obstructing their activities.
Data privacy is another sensitive area that has seen several games like PUBG Mobile and Free Fire facing bans.
Any potential regulations on online gambling by the Indian government will likely focus on these areas. However, some obstacles could also be created for the same reasons mentioned above.
A restriction on loot boxes or a limit on in-app spending will effectively mean financial losses for businesses.
This will prove to be a major obstacle for them, which could even force them not to organize the many tournaments currently in progress. Participating in these events also requires great hours of daily practice.
Imagine competing against opponents from other countries who can train for longer hours! Rationing playing time by a dictate of the law will bury the hopes of many.
The whole issue of data privacy is a gray area, to begin with. This is considered one of many possible reasons why League of Legends: Wild Rift may not have arrived in India yet, and this is just one example.
The whole issue of privacy is always complicated and could discourage developers even more.
There is no denying that regulation is needed in the world of online gambling in India. However, any policy will need to be well thought out as the chances of it going wrong are quite high.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the opinions of the author.