GST on gaming: GST on online gaming triggers CV deluge


As the Centre prepares to enforce a 28% GST on online gaming beginning Sunday, several search, recruitment and staffing firms have noted a surge in the resumes of employees from this sector entering the job market.

The increasing number of job seekers reflects their concerns about the GST’s potential effects on their future. Experts from over half-a-dozen staffing firms told ET that this trend has become particularly pronounced in recent weeks.

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“In the face of headwinds resulting from frequent regulatory changes and reports of scams, there are layoffs and a surge of talent actively seeking new opportunities in other sectors,” said Manu Saigal, director, general staffing at Adecco.

Job search by talent in Indian gaming bellwethers such as Dream11, Games24x7, MPL, Junglee, Baazi, Winzo and Moonfrog, among others, has nearly tripled over the last six weeks, according to data put together for ET by specialist staffing firm Xpheno.

Also read | The harsh ‘reality’ facing real money gaming firms, and other top tech, startup stories this week

This comes as professionals face the prospect of possible job losses and hiring freezes amidst concerns that the sector will take some hard decisions. Already, some companies including Mobile Premier League, Spartan Poker and Kavin Bharati Mittal-led Hike Rush Gaming Universe have laid off employees.

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“A sharp and rapid drop in hiring action was registered as a knee-jerk reaction to the recent GST-linked developments,” said Prasadh M S, head-workforce research, Xpheno.

Indian gaming bellwethers have collectively registered a 60-70% drop in talent demand over the last four months, according to Xpheno.

Also read | DGGI raises Rs 55,000-crore tax demand from Dream11, other online gaming companies

Tax demand notices

Many online gaming companies have received tax demand notices in the recent past. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs chairman Sanjay Kumar Agarwal on Thursday said GST tax notices to online gaming companies are in accordance with legal provisions, according to an ET report.

Experts said under such circumstances, the jump in CVs is triggered by strategic layoff decisions by some gaming companies coupled with professionals future-proofing their careers.

Also read | 28% GST on online gaming comes into effect tomorrow

There is a 20-25% jump in profiles coming in from the gaming industry, according to Pranshu Upadhyay, tech leader, Michael Page India. “While the top leadership is being more patient as gaming is a well-paying sector, the deluge is mostly at junior to mid-levels,” said Upadhyay.

The profiles of those looking at a change include developers, mid-level engineers, architects, and designers, he said. These skills are highly replicable in other industries such as enterprise SAAS, consumer-tech and fintech. According to Adecco’s Saigal, the online gaming talent pool is primarily being absorbed by technology companies.

Search for alternatives

Both hiring plans and funding have taken a hit across most online gaming companies, according to Khaz Mohaddeen, executive director, technology product and ecommerce vertical, ABC Consultants.

“People in the industry are looking for alternative options, they want to be in a secure place. Most who have got an offer from this sector are unwilling to join, they want stability,” said Mohaddeen. In the last couple of months, there’s been a 40-50% rise in candidates from the sector who have reached out for a job change.

It is easier for those in the technology domain to switch jobs but tough for those in product management, marketing, etc, he said.

With several new regulations and tax structure changes in the gaming industry, organisations are adopting strategic measures like workforce restructuring, said Sanjay Shetty, director, professional search & selection, Randstad India.

However, given that the gaming industry continues to be a massive area of interest, especially among the younger demographic, it will continue to grow irrespective of the temporary hiccups, said Shetty.

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