Indonesia banning game apps already hurt local esports growth

Last week, Indonesia was in the gaming world headlines for all the wrong reasons. Swift regulation with no grace period stated that: all tech companies have to register with Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (Kominfo). A day later, bans started popping up to various applications such as Steam, Paypal, Epic Games and Yahoo.

This sent quite the shock waves in various industries within the country. Majorly the tech domain was affected as the gov’t wanted all companies to register with Kominfo, and grant authority to obtain users information and usage data within Indonesia.

epic ban kominfo indonesia

In response, Steam, Paypal and Yahoo complied quickly and were unblocked, but plenty of tech companies (Epic Games, Origin, etc) failed to meet the deadline and are still banned. Games like FIFA and Fortnite are not legally accessible within the country as a result.

The reasoning:

By tracking the gaming companies currently active in Indonesia, the government can promote more game jams between local and foreign game companies or fund internship opportunities to major game studios.

Playing loose with bans already affected esports & business

The ban has taken a major toll on games like Fortnite and FIFA, and in turn caused plenty of worry in the realm of esports. Esports tournaments in the country have been forced to a halt or postponed in hopes that tech companies submit to the new regulations quicker. Professional players in at least 15 gaming organizations won’t be making much income this month. On top of companies not being allowed to make revenue, fans of the games as well are already turning away from them.

Paypal being banned also affected the freelancing world. Plenty of organizations were allocating salaries via Paypal, and with the app banned, massive panic ensued. Many people had their money stored in the application and couldn’t take it out before the unannounced ban. While the app was unlocked again, it has caused uncertainty in terms of payment services and who may be next on the chopping block. It’s almost a non-brainier that major game developers will shy away from investing in the country as well.

Indonesia is a developing nation when looked at economically. Tech investments, gaming and esports are sprawling industry bringing much needed jobs and career opportunities in the country. However, sweeping regulation with no notice will put tech and game developers on the fence when it comes to expanding their ecosystems in the country.

In terms of esports, we are in for a mini dark age until all studios and game developers comply with the new regulation. If Indonesia does try to use the same techniques as India concerning banning games, or fast regulation interrupts business on the regular, the effects on the esports scene in the country as a whole could be massive.

For now, we hope this was the end of it and look forward to Epic Games and EA being unbanned so local events can continue as normal.