Hardware Prices – A Major Deterrent for the Development of the Gaming Industry in India?

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Gaming is a hobby for many people around the globe. But as most people say, it is quite an expensive hobby. A console or a PC, along with the cost of games, that you need to buy to play them are quite immense, even considering sales. (Comparatively a gardening of stamp collecting hobby is cheaper, but isn’t as pleasure giving, or maybe it’s just me thinking that) In a developing economy slow adopting to the pleasures of the modern world, the price of the hobby is a huge deterrent for potential market for gaming to develop in India.

The main stuff you need for gaming is a console or a PC to play games on. Without a platform to game on, one cannot play video games. Building even a mid-range rig, or buying a console is downright tough, and require a lot of pre-planning and saving in order to buy one, the sole reason being the high prices of hardware in the Indian market, and I’m only speaking about the people with a part time or full time job here (and still enjoy gaming, a rare species in the Indian habitat). That being said, the problem’s origin gives us food for thought – as we traverse on a path laced with Government hate for imported goods not even produced in our country, to a low entertainment budget allocation and a general disgust for gaming as a “time waste”.

In most foreign countries, gaming is a thing among a diverse age group. People from different age groups enjoy AAA and indie titles together, under the same roof. Here, the case is different. Gaming became a thing in the country well after 2000 in the country, which had caught on gradually, from people rushing to Cyber Cafes to play against their friends on LAN, to people playing at home on their PCs over the Internet. This meant that a majority of the gamers in the country are the young ones. These kids are left entirely at the mercy of their parents regarding their hobby, who look down upon gaming as a “time waste” instead of regarding it as a part of the entertainment industry.

First of all, gaming being a thing of the kids is itself a bad thing. If anyone would ask, the obvious answer is that he would have depend on his parents for his necessities and luxuries. They have to be driven entirely by their parent’s mindset, and considering the wrong notions that abound in a third world country where people have to face harsh competition at all levels, gaming is not a favorable hobby. A lack of marketable skills, which most Western countries teach their kids to develop at an young age, means that they have a difficult time finding a part-time job for funding the hobby they really like indulging in.

Prices itself are pretty askew, with no regulatory committee of the Government looking into regulating customs and other taxes for stuff which the country has yet to produce on its own (or produce with the help of multinational companies operating within its borders). Despite the lack of a dedicated hardware production chain in the country, the Government continues to increase customs on hardware, which makes importing hardware costlier. Since the gaming hardware, be they for a PC or console, comes from other countries, hefty taxes increase the base prices of the item, leading to a price that can be upto 50% to 75% greater than the actual marked price when it retails abroad. The Government’s neglect of the sector signals the average Indian’s outlook towards gaming, which is a “time waste”.

Time went on, but people’s outlook remained same, and the stiff mental opposition to accept or adapt to new stuff in the country means that gaming has a hard time making a mental base among the millions of gamers who are eager to expand their hobby. (and produce successful Twitch streamers, Youtubers and e-Sports athletes). This, combined with an entertainment budget that isn’t even a fraction of the cost of a mid-range graphics card that runs most graphically demanding games on medium setting, are the hidden obstacles to a flourishing gaming industry in India.

Over the years, economic growth has happened, leading to the increase in disposable income. This means that gaming hardware are slightly more accessible, but the problem of an age-old mentality that refuses to move over and make space for newer concepts persists. Despite these, giants like AMD and NVIDIA are not daunted. They have invested in smaller companies, and organize gaming events through them to unite gamers from all over the country. e-Sports events like the ESL India Premiership make space for kids wanting to take up gaming as a profession. New-age retailers selling hardware with occasional freebies or the odd discount of the hour also means that number of buyers for dedicated gaming hardware have increased. While the lack of marketable skills for actually earning some pocket money still persists, many kids have expanded online, and are earning money through several ways, including freelancing! Some are even making money from the video games they play!

Gaming is still in its nascent stage in India, and will take time to develop, but some obstacles continue posing a problem to its development, which are mainly the prices of all forms of gaming hardware, including laptops, PC components and peripherals, consoles, handheld consoles, and many others. Maybe if the Government actually reduces customs and import taxes on it (till we have the manufacturers set up shop here in the country!) till the country has a manufacturing base of its own? Till then, we have to go on in our pathetic lives, studying, playing video games, and sleeping (with a bit of exercise too!).

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