VietNamNet Bridge – Online games have been living quietly in the dark, because they cannot advertise their products under any form, and because they have not been granted operating licenses.


In 2012, online games brought VND6 trillion in turnover, according to the Ministry of Information and Communication MIC. It is estimated that the industry now employs 7,000 workers. VNG with 1,600 workers and FPT with 1,100 workers, are the biggest online game firms.

Most of available games are illegal

In October 2010, MIC stopped granting new licenses to online games running on computers amid the public complaints about the bad effects of online games. At that time, the watchdog agency did not take care about mobile games, because the market was so small.

However, in July 2011, MIC asked the government to allow licensing the new games “with educational and humanitarian values.” The ministry said that the games licensed in the past became no more attractive to gamers, who then tried to play foreign games. Therefore, domestic games could not develop, while the State failed to collect taxes.

However, in fact, there have not been many games “with educational and humanitarian values,” therefore, the number of licensed online games is modest.

A report of MIC showed that by July 2013, it had licensed 117 online games, but 44 of them have stopped running. As such, only 73 games can be in circulation.

However, insiders believe that at least over 300 games have been available on the market, which means 200 are illegal.

A lot of games firms have admitted that they have been “living in the dark.” Their games have not been licensed because of the overly strict regulations, while they still want to make money from games.

FPT Online’s Managing Director Nguyen Van Khoa admitted that the firm once put “illicit” games into the market, though they then died young. Analysts believe that all the existing game firms have illicit products.

“Illicit games” is understood as the games with violence activities, with shooting and killing scenes. Games firms knew such games would not be licensed, therefore, they quietly put the games into the market. It is the violent games which can bring high turnover to game firms.

Nguyen Tuan Huy, Director of Emobi, a game producer, complained that the current overly strict regulations have put game producers into deadlock

An expert said that game firms can also collect money from gamers, though the games are still under the tests. In fact, the games have been put into the commercial exploitation already, but the game firms would tell to inspectors that the games are still under the experiments to avoid the punishment.

The rules unfair for players

The management agencies have vowed to prevent violent games from appearing in the market. However, experts said it’s a very difficult job, because the developed technologies can give many instruments to help illicit game distributors to escape the watchdog agencies’ watch.

Pham Cong Hoang, Deputy General Director of FPT Online, complained that the rules of the games are unfair for Vietnamese and foreign players. While Vietnamese firms have been put under the strict management, foreign firms do not bear the management. Meanwhile, since they don’t pay tax, they can provide services at more competitive fees, thus enabling to attract more gamers.