Online Gaming Intermediary

Law Study

As per the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023, an ‘online gaming intermediary’ is an intermediary which enables users to access one or more games offered on the internet.

The concept of “safe harbor” under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 acts as a defense for intermediaries. It states that “an intermediary shall not be liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him”. For example, online social media can’t be liable for their user’s activities.

But how can a single gaming app or website be counted as an Internet intermediary?

Previously, eSports were just played within a group on the LAN, but now they are being played on the internet and watched globally. eSports has made its debut as a full-fledged medal event at the Hangzhou Asian Games 2022, after being a ‘demonstration event’ at the 2018 Asian Games.

At present, the extremely violent, competitive new online game genre battle royale, combat among many players until only one remains, is becoming increasingly popular among the teens. In these games, the players are free to choose their gaming names.


Now, suppose ‘ABC’ is a children’s food products company. Now, if player 1 chooses the name ‘ABC’ and player 2 chooses the name ‘Kid’ in an online game named ‘G’, which belongs to the battle royale genre, streaming online worldwide. Now, in that game, when player 1 shoots player 2, a message is displayed on the screen with their chosen name ‘ABC kills Kid’. Being streamed live worldwide, some viewers may record and upload that video on social media. Somehow, that video catches ABC company’s attention & they sue ‘G’ game developers for bad impact on their brand name.

Here ‘G’ game developers will argue that they are an intermediary. They can’t control their players’ gaming name selection just like social media can’t control their users’ profile name selection. They are just storing and transmitting gaming names on behalf of players.