Legal bottlenecks must be resolved for Vietnam’s online gaming arena to win

March 10, 2023 | 14:47
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Online game product developers in Vietnam are facing many legal problems related to their activities. The first is that the current regulations on licensing procedures for online games are often very complicated and lengthy.
Legal bottlenecks must be resolved for Vietnam’s online gaming arena to win
Do Ba Thich-Senior partner, ASL Law

In Vietnam, game developers need to have an operating licence issued by the authorities. Depending on the type of game provided, it is necessary to meet different conditions and apply for a corresponding game licence according to the provisions of Decree No.72/2013-ND-CP and Decree No.27/2018/ND-CP amending and supplementing the former.

Especially for games such as League of Legends, video games with interaction between many players simultaneously through the enterprise’s game server system, game developers must meet extremely strict conditions in terms of financial, technical, organisational, personnel, and equipment systems to provide video game services suitable to the scale of operation.

The second problem is the regulation on the content of the game. They need to comply with the provisions of the law, especially when it comes to sensitive and violent issues such as not having images and sound that specifically describe the acts of violence, eroticism, vulgarity, and others contrary to the nation’s moral and cultural traditions and customs.

They must also not involve distortion or destruction of historical traditions; violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity; incitement to self-harm, drug use, alcohol consumption, smoking, gambling, or terrorism; acts of abusing or trafficking of women and children; and other harmful or prohibited acts that are detailed in Decree 72.

In addition, the game market is growing too fast, and Vietnam currently does not have the regulations and legal frameworks to keep up with the development of the industry.

Many businesses or game developers choose to invest in Singapore where there are clear regulations on this issue, while the entire product development team is in Vietnam. The lack of regulations will cause game developers to face plenty of difficulties when developing a new type of game that has not been regulated by Vietnamese law as well as their rights and interests are not guaranteed.

For other countries in the region, there are often special incentives to attract game developers, typically in Singapore. Its government provides grants and tax support to game developers. Specifically, the 17 per cent corporate tax rate in Singapore is the lowest in Southeast Asia, making the country an attractive destination for foreign investment and startups.

Meanwhile, Thailand also has supportive policies, including tax breaks and free training for developers. Indonesia is also one of the largest game markets in Southeast Asia, with a highly skilled workforce. In the past few years, there have been several universities offering gaming majors.

Alas, there is still no official information about the revised law related to the online game market in Vietnam. However, the government is intensifying its review of legal regulations related to tech and digital innovation, which may include the gaming sector.

In 2016, the government approved the strategy on development of Vietnamese cultural industries towards 2020, which emphasises the development of “entertainment software and games” as one of 13 important areas. At the end of 2021, the government approved another strategy on development of Vietnamese cultural diplomacy for this decade and set out specific support policies for cultural industries, including those related to entertainment software and games.

In particular, the Ministry of Information and Communications has developed a plan to develop the game industry by 2027, with a focus on creating favourable policies, attracting foreign companies to invest, managing the market, organising events to promote cooperation and trade between domestic game companies and investment funds, and supporting the training of human resources to help the industry develop based on the talent of the Vietnamese people.

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By Do Ba Thich

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