Hyderabad: The small but vociferous PC gamer community, has not taken well to the Union Budget. For years, they have been upset about the high price of computer parts and gaming accessories due to import duties. This year, there has been no relief in import duties, leading to more lamentation about the neglect of video gaming.
Though considered a fringe industry by many, the market for video games is huge globally. Overall, the global market is estimated to be around $148 billion. Big video game releases, such as GTA 5, are known to make many times the revenue of large studio-backed movies. However, according to a report by the Confederation of Industries of April 2019, the Indian market is only 1 per cent of it. The esports market too is considered a fast-growing industry but Indian competitors are rare and largely uncelebrated.
The biggest obstacle for PC gaming has been the high cost of components, especially graphics cards. Mr Vikas Hisariya of Vishal Peripherals, a popular computer parts shop in Hyderabad, said there would be virtually no changes due to the Budget. “In the short run, we see no impact on prices. In the long run, we think the push for local manufacturing is good. We won’t be dependent on imports,” he said.
Most gamers disagree. Avinash, 19, an avid gamer from the city who does freelance work on game development, said he had built a “workstation” at a cost of `3 lakh. “One-fifth of this money was taxes since the components weren’t available and had to be imported individually. Gaming is a viable industry and we need the tools to work. How long can we wait for local manufacturers to catch up so that, ultimately, prices come down,” he asked.
Avinash wants to be a professional gamer and participate in DOTA2 tournaments. “The idea was so unpalatable to my family that I gave it up in the first year of college. I think Indians don’t have a clue about how big the video game scene is, and that esports can be a legitimate, well-paying career," he said.
Akhil, 22, a League of Legends (LoL) enthusiast, said, “Most of us are still working towards recognition from the government or society. But in South Korea and China, gamers are numbered in the millions and the best ones are like superstars. Millions of people come to see them play, just like cricket in India.”
Akhil and Avinash felt the cost of gaming is what keeps newcomers away. Avinash said, “If PC parts were as cheap as they are in the West, we would have esports stars as well. But, right now, video games are a hobby of the rich.”
Krish Gupta, 17, one of the upcoming star players of DOTA2, said the high price of computer parts makes it hard for newcomers to pick this as a hobby. “But there is still a way for newcomers to get into professional gaming. I would suggest they go to gaming cafes,” he said....