Vietnam mulls allowing online games again after four-year ban

Thanh Nien News

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A promotion event for an online game provider in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Diep Duc Minh
The Ministry of Information and Communications has instructed relevant agencies to license online games again after suspending them in 2010 amid wide public outcry over their harmful effects.
“Playing games is society’s demand,” Minister of Information and Communication Nguyen Bac Son said at a meeting in Hanoi on Wednesday (May 7).
“Governmental management agencies should limit game’s ill effects and promote the positives.”
He said if Vietnam does not issue a license for local game companies, people can still play games provided by companies abroad, cutting Vietnam out of the revenue flow.
At an earlier the meeting, many officials proposed that the ministry lift the licensing ban on online games, which was issued in 2010 following wide criticism that the games were addictive and provoked violence.
Nguyen Van Hung, the ministry’s chief inspector, said many game companies have asked the agency to issue licenses again.
“We found that all of the game companies having been developing games illegally since the ban,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Minh Hong said game companies want the ministry to issue license so they can provide the games legally.
Hong said many companies developed games illegally as a way to cope with economic difficulties.
“Managing game content is complicated. But we have to license games that offer healthy content,” he said.
He said many countries enjoy significant revenues from the computer game industry.
"Stifling development at game companies will affect the development of the information technology sector,” he said.
Minister Son agreed with the proposals and instructed the ministry’s Broadcast and Electronic Information Department to draft a circular on licensing online games.
The ministry will set up a committee to assess games before issuing them licenses, he said.
The latest statistics from the Vietnam Internet Network Information Center showed the country had more than 30 million Internet users as of February 2012, or 34 percent of the population.

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