Top Gaming CEOs Call Out Google’s ‘Extortionist’ 30% Tax on Gaming Apps at Consilience 2023

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Top gaming CEOs expressed their concerns over the ‘extortionist’ 30% tax imposed by Google on gaming apps at a panel discussion held at Consilience 2023, organized by the Law and Technology Society (L-Tech) at National Law School of India University (NLSIU) in partnership with All India Game Developers’ Forum (AIGDF).

Manish Agarwal, Co-Founder of IndiGG, stated that the 30% tax on gaming apps is unfair. “The 30% jagirdari tax is an extortion and I believe in India we should not allow anybody to do this, especially when you’re not an Indian company,” he said. He pointed out that, in a country like India, the focus needs to be to increase its propensity to pay and reduce friction in spending among consumers. Adding an extra 30% tax on top of the goods and services tax (GST) is a significant expense for consumers, which he believes is unproductive from a gamer’s perspective.

Anuj Tandon, Gaming Chief Executive Officer for JetSynthesys, expressed a similar sentiment. “When app stores and play stores were launched, the 30% fee was revolutionary compared to the 70% charged by OEMs or Telcos for game developers. At that time, it was a very good idea, but as the industry and business models have evolved, there needs to be a relook at the rates,” he added.

Sai Srinivas, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Mobile Premier League (MPL), highlighted that the 30% commission may be viable in advanced markets like the United States, but for India, it is crucial to ensure that Indian game developers receive more revenue to invest in game development and build more games. “Let’s evaluate the unit economics; if a developer charges 100 rupees, 30 rupees go to the play store or app store and 70 rupees goes to the developer,” he explained. “From that 70 rupees, they have to pay for hosting, user acquisition and other expenses. My view is that we should provide Indian game developers with more revenue to invest in game development and build more games.”

Sean Hyunil Sohn, Chief Executive Officer for Krafton Incorporated India, called for proper intervention by the government and encouraged the development of competition from third-party stores, supported by consumers.

Consilience 2023 marked the first conference of its kind to be held in the wake of the notification of the new online gaming rules by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). The conference shed light on the legal and regulatory requirements that must be met, growth strategies to be adopted and policy needs for the industry to reach its full potential.

The conference explored topics such as online gaming regulations, taxation of gaming and new business opportunities that gaming companies can leverage. Speakers included Akshat Rathee, Co-Founder of Nodwin Gaming, Anupriya Sinha Das, Head of Corporate Development at Nazara, Rachit Rastogi, Chief Operating Officer for Good Game Exchange (GGX), Joyjyoti Misra, Group General Counsel for Gameskraft, Ritika Chatterjee, General Counsel for Mayhem Studios and Arun Prabhu, Partner at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. The panels were expertly moderated by professors of NLSIU like Dr Betsy Rajasingh (Associate Prof, NUJS), who has expertise in intellectual property and technology law, Professor Sanyukta Chowdhury, who specializes in tax, Professor Rahul Singh, Associate Professor of Law at NLSIU, whose expertise lies in corporate affairs and competition law, and Dr TS Somashekar, Professor of Economics, NLSIU.

“Consilience has always been a syncretic conference bringing together different perspectives on law and technology,” said Shikhar Sharma, Convenor of the Law and Technology Society 2022/23. “This year, we are proud to host it with AIGDF and bring in the perspective of business into the intersection of Law and Technology.”

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