Top gaming CEOs expressed their concerns over the ‘extortionist’ 30 per cent tax imposed by Google on gaming apps at a panel discussion held at Consilience 2023. It was organised 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).

IndiGG co-founder Manish Agarwal stated that the 30 per cent tax on gaming apps is unfair. “The 30 per cent 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 per cent 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.”

JetSynthesys Gaming CEO Anuj Tandon said, “When app stores and play stores were launched, the 30 per cent fee was revolutionary compared to the 70 per cent 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.”

Mobile Premier League (MPL) co-founder and CEO Sai Srinivas highlighted that the 30 per cent commission may be viable in advanced markets like the US, but for India, it is crucial to ensure that Indian game developers receive more revenue to invest in game development and build more games. He explained, “Let’s evaluate the unit economics: if a developer charges INR 100, INR 30 goes to the play store or app store and INR 70 goes to the developer. From that INR 70, 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.”

Krafton Inc. India CEO Sean Hyunil Sohn 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.

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