What do Assassin’s Creed 3, Max Payne 3, and some of the Call of Duty and Tom Clancy’s series have in common? They’re all at least partially set in Brazil. Although the country is an inspiration for game developers around the world, the developing industry itself is not booming as much as it could. As the world video game market is set to reach USD 152.1 billion this year, companies are finding new ways to profit off Brazilians’ big enthusiasm for gaming.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Being ranked worldwide fourth and fifth in terms of internet and smartphone user populations, Brazil should be one of the biggest markets for the video game industry. Brazil also grabs the bronze medal in the eSports viewership category: 21.2 million Brazilians enjoy watching it, including 9.2 million who do so regularly. Professional gamers can make a fortune from tournaments. The top-earning Brazilian gamer, Gabriel &#8220;FalleN&#8221; Toledo, made about USD 950,000 in his ongoing career playing first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, without counting sponsorship deals.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, the country is lagging behind in </span><a href="https://newzoo.com/insights/rankings/top-100-countries-by-game-revenues/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">14th position</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> with its USD 1.645 billion in total revenue from the video gaming sector in 2018.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sandro Manfredini, president of Abragames, the association of Brazilian video game developers, thinks that the <a href="https://brazilian.report/money/2018/06/09/brazilian-gaming-industry-china/">gap</a> is more about resources. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">“</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Funding is one of the main issues because investors don&#8217;t feel able to bet on this industry, even when there is proof of enormous growth,” he says. “The whole ecosystem has been growing a lot, especially in the last five years.” He mentions the increase of new game development courses and game events that allow developers to connect.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bertrand Chaverot, Ubisoft’s Latin America Managing Director, also thinks that Brazil is an exciting prospect for the video game industry. “The Brazilian market is in full expansion, especially considering eSports and partnerships with TV networks. Youngsters prefer watching video games to sports tournaments,” he says. “Brazilians are a perfect fit for subscription and streaming-based platforms.” As an example, Brazil is YouTube’s second biggest population and Netflix’s second foreign market with 8.5 million subscribers.</span></p> <h2>What drives the Brazilian video game market</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Brazilian market is also helped by technological advances. “The digitalization of the industry makes prices more attractive. We no longer have to pay for transport and distribution or worry about theft,” says Mr. Chaverot. However, even if there are a lot of customers in Brazil, local game development remains subpar. “There are no incentives to create developing studios.” Mr. Chaverot gives the example of the 80 percent tariffs on imported material, even when its purpose is to create jobs. “In terms of the economic ecosystem, it can only get better,” he argues, hoping that Economy Minister Paulo Guedes will stay in office.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There is a lot of talent here, but it doesn’t go over a certain level. The schools are not very good so the best leave the country,” says Mr. Chaverot. “It would be impossible to create large-scale games such as Assassin’s Creed, for example.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Videogame artist Victor Leão opposes that line of thought. “Brazil is a huge exporter of artists, in both indie and AAA [big budget] game development. Games that have Brazilians have good art,” he says. And the indie game industry can be profitable: Celeste, a Canadian-Brazilian game with overwhelmingly positive reviews on gaming platform Steam and universal acclaim from critics, and has sold more than 500,000 copies. His advice for game developers? “Keep making small games, but good games.”

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BY Amin Guidara

Amin is an intern at The Brazilian Report. He is a journalism student at Sciences Po Paris and has worked for La Presse and Radio-Canada