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The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) is developing a strategy to develop the game industry, including a plan to bring Vietnamese game studios based overseas back to Vietnam.
Vietnam is a bright spot in the world's game industry. According to App Annie’s recent data, Vietnam ranks first in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand (ANZSEA) with five names on the list of top 10 largest game distributors in the region, including Amanotes, OneSoft, GameJam, VNG and Arrasol.
Vietnam also has a very large number of game developers on Apple's app store, with 180,000 developers, in the top 3 in Southeast Asia.
However, Vietnam's game market has not developed sustainably. Game developers are mainly outsourcing to foreign partners. Local game studios are only strong in the Casual and Hyper Casual game series (games with simple design, easy to play).
In particular, of over 60 Vietnamese game studios producing and publishing games globally, only a few studios are located in Vietnam, most of them are located abroad, mostly Singapore. This not only causes a loss for the State budget, but also affects the development of this industry.
Attracting Vietnamese producers
To bring game projects and studios back to Vietnam, many changes are needed in policies and even businesses themselves.
Vietnam is among the top countries producing and distributing Casual and Hyper Casual games. If these companies locate in the country, they will have to apply for license. The current procedure is too complicated and time-consuming.
According to experts, for simple games in the Casual and Hyper Casual genres, the life cycle is usually short, about three months, so when the application procedure is done, the game may have closed. This is a problem that studios face today, so many of them decide to go abroad to set up a global game publishing company.
Domestic taxes are not a big problem, but collecting taxes from revenue coming from abroad is the biggest obstacle for global game publishers and producers.
Currently, game studios' foreign revenue is equated with revenue from Facebook and Google, which means an additional 5% value-added tax, plus 5% contractor tax. Thus, if based in Vietnam, game studios have to pay 10% of tax, while the profit margin in the international market is usually not high.
Experts said the State needs to have preferential policies on tax, and clearly communicate about policies and incentives, so that leading games studios will return home.
From the perspective of state management, Mr. Le Quang Tu Do, Deputy Director of the MIC’s Department of Broadcasting, Television and Electronic Information, said that the MIC is developing a strategy to develop the game industry, with specific goals and targets.
“When formulating the strategy, the Department of Radio, Television and Electronic Information proposed policies to protect and promote the development of game production in Vietnam and to bring large studios located abroad back to Vietnam and encourage studios to start their businesses from Vietnam, instead of setting up overseas to avoiding tax obligations," Le Quang Tu Do said.
According to SensorTower data, in 2021, the total number of downloads of mobile games in Southeast Asia was 8.41 billion, an increase of 6.3%. Vietnam ranked second with 1.7 billion downloads of mobile games. In 2021, mobile game market revenue in Southeast Asia was 2.79 billion USD, up 15.4%.