The recent ban on the popular strike game Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) run by Krafton Inc, has one again brought the limelight on the urgent need to create regulation for the online gaming industry. “There is regulatory uncertainty in the gaming ecosystem. A comprehensive set of guidelines and regulations need to be established that will ensure that the industry is clear about the expectations of the government and can meet them. Regulation will ensure that there is some sort of escalation mechanism, grievance redressal mechanism available not just to players but also to game operators,” Sameer Barde, CEO, EGF, told BrandWagon Online.
The government of India banned one of the popular battle-royale games on July 29, 2022 under section 69 (A) of The Information Technology Act, 2000. This is the second time that the government has banned an online game. Prior to this, in February it had banned Garena’s Free Fire. It is to be noted that BGMI, Clash of Clans, Free Fire, Call of Duty (COD) are considered top mobile games in India. As per Esports Charts, BGMI is the fifth largest mobile Esports game in India. According to industry experts, such sudden bans hurt funding sentiments. “The government has not clarified its stand but such kind of knee jerk bans dampen investor sentiments and take India behind in its goal to become an Esports hub,” Jay Sayta, technology and gaming lawyer, said.
According to industry observers, the BGMI ban will be a setback for all major stakeholders including tournament organisations and organisers, Esports teams, coaches, support staff and most importantly the athletes. “It will impact the livelihoods and income of gamers and the Esports talent in the industry. Many skilled gamers have left their families, homes and traditional jobs to build and pursue their careers as professionals. Such a ban will make their future and careers uncertain. If the ban decision holds, we will probably see a decline in the number of gamers and its communities across India,” Shivam Rao, co-founder, Trinity Gaming India, highlighted.
The Indian government banned PUBG Mobile in 2020 along with 117 other Chinese apps. The following year, parent company Krafton introduced Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) in the country, a tamer version of the super popular battle royale. Chinese multinational technology and entertainment conglomerate Tencent held a 13.5% stake in Krafton as of end-March through an investment vehicle, according to Krafton’s regulatory filing.