Vietnam.net reports that the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) is working on a draft decision on managing online games in Vietnam. This has interesting implications for the regulation and sale of games in Vietnam, one of the big games markets in the Far East.
Managing online games:
“According to the draft decision, the Government will assign provincial governments to set opening and closing times for Internet cafes. In locations with no regulations, Internet cafes will not be allowed to supply online game service after 10pm.
For games that have interaction between gamers with servers, gamers are not permitted to play the same online game more than 3 hours per day. Those that have limited number of gamers and the interaction between them is simple and low-tension, such as chess, game providers are allowed to provide 24/7 service. Cultural and educational games are encouraged by permitting a gamer to play 4-5 hours/game/day.”
I’ll leave it to wiser heads than mine to comment on why the Vietnamese government feels it necessary to restrict the amount of time in which games can be played at net cafes, what effect that could have on games or, for that matter, on the Vietnamese games industry. It does seem though to chime in with reports from other Far Eastern countries, such as China and South Korea, that governments are concerned about the effects of long gameplaying sessions on gamers.
The article goes on to state:
“To restrict small firms with weak capital and technology from distributing online games, which makes the online game market scattered, MoIC and the Finance Ministry will issue licensing regulations. The draft also encourages Vietnamese firms to develop online games and restrict foreign game imports. Accordingly, game providers have to register games one year before they import the games.”
These measures, if adopted, look like a classic protectionist measures intended to benefit domestic games over foreign games – cue the classic free trade v protectionism debate, albeit in a games context. It will be interesting to see whether (i) Vietnamese gamers/games industry support them; and (ii) whether legally Vietnam would be able to pass them, given the inevitable international competition issues it would raise (as a side-note, that kind of measure would never get anywhere in the EU due to EU competition rules).
This is the really interesting issue. So interesting in fact that I’ve written a separate post about Vietnam and the battle for virtual goods here!