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Grey market, piracy and higher taxes are affecting the growth of the gaming industry in India
The existence of a thriving grey market in the country (with almost 70%-80% of games being sold through this channel) coupled with high customs duty on gaming consoles are severely impacting the growth of gaming in India, said a study.
According to a study conducted by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International (formerly known as Indian Market Research Bureau or IMRB), the high customs duty, about 25%, not only makes games out of reach for the majority of consumers, but also encourages the grey market as it is able to sell gaming consoles cheaper after avoiding duties and taxes.
"Like with any content business, piracy is a key problem area that affects the growth of the Indian gaming industry. While it seriously restricts the sales of many international game franchises, it completely jeopardises the possibility of the Indian game development industry which may be interested in creating Indian intellectual property (IP) content, with dependence on a captive audience in India for initial success," said Atindriya Bose, country manager, PlayStation, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.
The Internet is the driving force behind the gaming market in India. Gamers constitute 41.2% of the total active Internet users in India, a whopping 89% increase from 2007.
The population of gamers is also on the rise and this is attributed to the rapidly rising number of mobile subscriptions in India and high-profile launches of the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation (PS) 3 in the country. The report said that by 2010, it expects the gaming industry to generate revenues of Rs575 crore from consoles and Rs812 crore from mobile gaming.
However, there has been a significant shift in demographics of gamers, with college and school going students accounting for almost 50% of the total gamers in India. Many of these students are unable to afford high-priced games and often tend to get them duplicated from friends. This is a major reason for piracy in India.
Sudeep Shukla, who runs a gaming blog, said, "As games are initially released in the US and other foreign countries and are not released in India, pirates are easily able to create pirated CDs and sell them in the country.” The gaming industry needs to price its games at a lower cost and launch its products as early as possible in order to curb piracy, he added.
Again, the buyer may face problems if he wants to turn in a game CD for replacement from an authorised dealer. In the gray market, however, you get replacement of any faulty CD, without any question and within minutes, said Mr Shukla.
Prices of new game titles are usually very high in India compared with other countries due to a variety of reasons, including high taxes and duty. Dealers often sell old game titles at a discounted price, which disappoints earlier buyers as they may have paid a higher price for the same.
"While making prices more accessible for DVDs may help, it needs to be done with a business perspective. Piracy control needs a dual approach of making products more accessible and acceptable to end consumers, along with using regular steps against people indulging in selling of pirated products," said Mr Bose.
Earlier, while speaking at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) conference in Panaji, Harish Dayani, chief executive, Moser Baer India, had said that film piracy industry in India is worth Rs1,500 crore and its profits are being used to fund terrorism in the country.
“The rate for each pirated DVD is Rs25 and the cost of a raw DVD is a mere Rs11 to Rs12. Imagine the profits they are reaping in,” Mr Dayani said, adding that Moser Baer was forced to come up with a 'revolutionary pricing strategy' to popularise film CDs and DVDs in the face of piracy.
Moser Baer has been selling CDs/DVDs of popular Hindi movies at very cheap rates or for just a few rupees more than the prices of pirated ones. A blogger picked up a legal copy of a movie and compared it to its pirated version. He said, "At Rs34, the price (of an original DVD title) is the real killer. This price cannot be beaten. Why buy pirated stuff anymore?"
"You will not be tempted to buy pirated copies as you can never be assured of the quality of pirated movies," added another blogger.
The same low pricing method can be applied for game titles as well. "They (the gaming industry) need to take the approach like that of the film industry where Moser Baer has joined hands with film producers to sell cheaper DVDs for the audience," Mr Shukla concludes.
After receiving a clearance from the Drug Controller General, Pune-based Serum Institute is identifying 50 'completely healthy' adults to undertake Phase-I human clinical trials.
The long wait for an effective vaccine to fight Swine flu in the country could be over in a few months, if the intra-nasal spray made by Serum Institute of India (SII) here is tested successfully on humans next week, reports PTI.
After a clearance from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), the institute, which has already submitted a report on toxicity and tolerance of the vaccine in animal trials, is now in the process of identifying 50 'completely healthy' adults to undertake Phase- I human clinical trials in Pune, Delhi and Ahmedabad, according to Dr Rajiv Dhere, director, SII.
"We are on the right track, as the animal trials have been found to be totally safe," Dr Prasad Kulkarni, in charge of the human clinical trials of the vaccine, told PTI in Pune.
Apart from its potential wide sphere of application, the development assumes significance for about 40 lakh people in Pune, which has emerged as the epicentre of the pandemic in India after registering first fatality from the H1N1 virus on 3 August 2009.
Since then, the Swine flu toll in Pune has risen to 160, in a relentless spread of the infection during the past five months.
Explaining the procedure of human clinical trials starting next week, Dr Kulkarni said the healthy volunteers would be kept under observation for a minimum of three hours after being given the intra-nasal spray to note any possible reactions.
"After completion of this observation, he would be sent home and asked to register—either write down or communicate with us—his own observations in the next eight days," he added.
Asked to define the period needed to determine the safety of the vaccine, Dr Kulkarni said while it could vary for different individuals, the minimum period is one week.
After the spray is successfully tested on healthy individuals, the trial would be expanded to cover the general population, including children and aged people. The follow-up could take a few weeks.
Dr Kulkarni said the SII was confident of the safety aspect, as the nasal spray has been successfully used in America and Russia.
How does it act against the deadly H1N1 virus? Dr Kulkarni said when the vaccine is spread in the nose, it creates antibodies in the nasal cavity within a week's time. "Later, the antibodies are developed in the blood within two weeks," giving immunity from the virus.
The SII is also simultaneously working on the injective variety of the H1N1 vaccine.
Meanwhile, health officials and National Institute of Virology (NIV) sources said that the Swine flu virus has not mutated significantly to offer resistance to Tamiflu medication which, at present, remains the only successful line of treatment, if started at an early stage of the infection.
Reliance Foundation is planning to set up a world-class university in the country and it may be headed by Nita Ambani
Refinery-to-retail giant Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is planning to set up a world-class university in the country, marking its foray into the education sector. The university may be headed by Nita Ambani, wife of RIL chief Mukesh Ambani. Ms Ambani is president of Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation and also heads the Dhirubhai Ambani International School.
"Reliance Foundation, the new philanthropic initiative of the Reliance Group, has decided to set up a new age world-class university in India and it will promote education and research in all disciplines of knowledge," RIL chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said.
He was speaking after receiving the first Dean's Medal by the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The proposed university would be set up on the lines of great American universities like UPenn, Mr Ambani said, adding that it will also forge partnerships with reputed educational institutions around the world. "It will be international in scale and in best practises, but with an Indian soul," he said.
Noting that there was a need to bring about changes in the methodology of education, Mr Ambani said that education in India is also at the doorsteps of transformation.
"Access to world-class education is not only a necessity but a strong prerequisite to building a strong India. It is by far the strongest aspiration of young Indians," he said.
The RIL chairman said that in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, a new world is emerging, which is fundamentally different from the old.
Noting that Asia is witnessing unprecedented prosperity, Mr Ambani said that the centre of economic activity was shifting from the West to the East.
However, many parts of Asia also present a picture of deprivation and under-development and employment creation remains a challenge for all countries.
"Countries left behind in the race for development are fast catching up. Asia is witnessing unprecedented prosperity. Yet, many parts of Asia also present a picture of deprivation and under-development," he said.
Calling for equitable development, he said that the deprived are demanding their due share.
"The poor are still denied access to food, water, housing, electricity and transport... the basic necessities of life. Therefore, the challenge of equitable development has become most urgent. So has the imperative of sustainable development," Mr Ambani said.
Urging to devise new developmental models that provide growth with sustainability, and development with equity, he said that sustainable development demands more out of less from finite resources.
The new developmental models will require partnerships and newer ways of solving problems and problems cannot be segregated into separate silos, Mr Ambani said.
"In this new and interdependent world, we have to become silo-breakers in our thinking, policies and strategies of development. Every single challenge that the world is facing demands a creative response from scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and policy-makers," he said.
Science, technology and engineering have an epoch-making opportunity to evolve to the next level, by making common cause with social sciences, responsible entrepreneurship and good governance, he said.
"I believe that technology, wedded to the Gandhian vision, can create a better future for our children in all parts of the world," the RIL chief said.
He observed that the world was facing crises on several fronts including financial, energy, food, water, environmental and international terrorism. "The decade gone by taught many important lessons to the world. 9/11 at the beginning of the last decade reminded the world about the barbarity of terrorism. 26/11 towards the end of the last decade was yet another reminder," Mr Ambani said.
The financial crisis highlighted the inter-connectedness of the world, he said, adding that the crisis taught the world that money cannot produce money.
Mr Ambani expressed his deep appreciation for all staff of the Oberoi, hit by the deadly terrorist strike in November 2008, for facing and overcoming terror with courage, reports PTI.
Earlier in November, Mr Ambani had said that RIL was planning to invest Rs500 crore to set up a philanthropic entity called Reliance Foundation with plans to scale up its contribution to Rs1,000 crore.