Local game firms at risk of being shut down

The closure of game firms has increased as the number of gamers has fallen. Many gamers have shifted to play free games or international games.

Nguyen Ngoc Bao, director of VTC Mobile, said the suspension of payments via scratch cards have caused problems to both network operators and digital content service providers.

At the time when telcos began cutting payment channels, the revenue of digital service providers dropped by 80 percent. Now the revenue is 50 percent lower.

Currently, gamers can only make payments with game cards or via banks. However, the coverage of the two payment methods is not as large as mobile scratch cards.

Scratch cards are considered an essential service. As every family has several mobile phone subscribers, it is convenient to buy and make payments via scratch card.

Meanwhile, not all families have gamers, and it is more difficult to find places to buy game cards than places to buy scratch cards. As the demand for game cards is not as large, there are not many game card sale agents.

Scratch cards are considered an essential service. As every family has several mobile phone subscribers, it is convenient to buy and make payments via scratch card. 

“Some games are at risk of being shut down as they have lost a big amount of gamers,” Bao explained. Other gamers are no longer interested because there are fewer gamers and fewer competitors.

All the three largest telcos, VinaPhone, MobiFone and Viettel, said the revenue from scratch card sales in April dropped by 80 percent after they suspended payments via scratch cards for services not provided by them, including digital content service.

The decision on suspending the payments via scratch cards was released after a gambling game case was discovered by the Phu Tho Police. It appears that the case has affected the game industry.

Minister of Information and Communication Truong Minh Tuan said the ministry will find a solution which allows payments via scratch cards for legal services, including pay-TV services, and prevent payment for illegal services.

At a conference held on May 22, Le Quang Tu Do, Deputy Director of the Department of Radio and Television and Electronic Information, said MIC, together with the State Bank and relevant ministries, have gathered to discuss solutions to the problem and ease difficulties for game firms.

However, while waiting for new solutions to be found, game firms still have to observe current regulations.

Decree 25 stipulates that telecommunication scratch cards are used to make payments for telecommunication services. There is no provision saying that tscratch cards can be used to pay for non-telecom services. If the scratch cards are upgraded into multi-functional cards, the current regulations will need amendments.

By Thanh Lich, Vietnamnet