Home / Budget / Budget Expectations /  Online skill gaming hopeful of a positive impetus from 2022 Budget

For most industries, 2021 was a year of marginal recovery and slow growth. Amidst these predominant lowlights, the esports and online skill gaming industry has stood out in the past two years for its performance, delivering stellar growth and garnering record investments.

The industry’s rapid growth has also enabled creation of newer employment opportunities across roles including designing, animation, and game development. Given the rapid adoption of online skill games in India as well as globally, we expect a greater number of roles to open up in the coming years.

Expectations from the 2022 Union Budget

In recent months, the Central government has shown its interest in better regulation of the online skill gaming industry, and we are hopeful that the positive interest will mean progressive and stable regulation for the industry. 

It is relevant to note that esports and online skill gaming is a competitive sport, and this year’s Asian Games in Hangzhou will see a total of 24 medals up for grabs in the category. 

Therefore, an increase in the current tax slab of 18 percent may be detrimental to professional players and developers looking to take Made in India game titles global. It is hoped that the Budget will also clarify the levy of GST on the Gross Gaming Revenue or the service fee, in line with international best practices. 

While last year’s Budget was targeted to aid economic recovery following the lockdowns, it is hoped that the 2022 Budget will focus on sunrise sectors, such as online skill gaming. 

A viable step in this regard is the creation of a dedicated fund for the industry. Having access to a dedicated corpus will go a long way in providing capital support to homegrown developers, who have the skill but lack resources to take Indian gaming titles global. In this regard, we urge the government to also consider setting up an Esports Excellence Centre, which will provide access to state-of-art infrastructure, in order to compete with global developers and programmers. 

It will support the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision for the Indian digital gaming sector to be a world leader, introducing games based on Indian mythology on a global platform. While India has ample talent to deliver the PM’s vision, however, it requires support of a world-class infrastructure to the developers and designers. 

Further, as per estimates, India currently has over 150,000 professional gamers, and the sport generates a viewership of 17 million - a figure that continues to rise. Therefore, it is crucial that the Budget dedicates resources for setting up training centres with leading infrastructure and financial aid for professional athletes.

It is no secret that the demand for skill games is at an all-time high, and is linked to the digitization of other industries such as online education and entertainment. In light of skill gaming being a professional sport and as mentioned above a medal event at the Asian Games, there is a need to cultivate and support Indian professional gamers. We urge the government to include esports in school curriculum so that individuals look at esports as a viable professional opportunity.

Win-win situation for all                                              

The nature of the esports and online skill gaming industry is such that its growth will have a trickle-down effect on related sectors including broadcast, animation, VFX, among others. Given the industry’s stellar performance, it will be prudent for the upcoming Budget to introduce measures that further propel its growth and provide necessary structural support for innovation.


*by Sai Srinivas, co-founder and CEO, Mobile Premier League.

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