Entertainment has become democratized and accessible as a necessity for all walks of life in India. In today’s ‘Digital India’, the average Indian has found solace in some form of online gaming at some point in time in the day. The surge in this ecosystem in India has validated that Indians have definitely selected online gaming as a medium of entertainment. The common motivation to entertain across OTT and gaming remains constant across all means old and new – it is a temporary escape from reality.
The pandemic saw an unprecedented increase in gaming activity especially on old favorites like ludo, carrom or any other classic board game on their mobile to enjoy playing with friends and family. The soon-to-be multi-billion dollar online gaming industry has a lot to offer in terms of diversity of products, services, technological developments, job opportunities and more. Although it still faces perspective biases in India from key sections of society with issues ranging from addiction to taboo, the behavioral shift of the consumer is here to stay. There are valid concerns surrounding the stigma of gaming being harmful or dangerous owing to investments of time or money depending on the segment of the users and the ecosystem will need to work with key government stakeholders to address that.
Needless to say, anything in excess has adverse effects be it binge eating, shopping or online gaming. This brings in the need for higher levels of self-control from a user which can happen if more power is shifted to the hands of the user. Since it is hard to unilaterally shift the power back to the players owing to conflict of business interests , there is a need for regulations and policies to force operators to do so.
With the new set of rules from MeitY, India is bound to come out with some kind of framework to address various segments of the gaming ecosystem to ensure that these businesses remain a mode of entertainment and not an unaccounted escape from reality. Self-regulatory bodies are proactively trying to keep operators in check by adhering to certain standards of integrity, transparency and responsible play for users. While these are the right steps in the right direction, there needs to be more to follow.
With a significant financial integration in online gaming, cyber frauds, foreign capital flow, the nature of advertisements, etc. have been major pain points to solve for. Industry players have been on their toes and have put these issues much ahead of anyone on their radar. Like every growing industry, there is a need for incubation and support rather than rejection.
The sector is a significant contributor to the economy and is set to create more than 12,000 new job opportunities by the end of this year. The recent self-regulatory measures and framework laid out by MeitY will build and develop a robust framework to sustain, boost and track growth but also to check irregularities and unfair practices that are detrimental to the Indian gamer in the country’s online gaming industry.