Brazil's independent gaming industry is strong

When the subject is game development, Brazil might not be the first country to pop into your head. Well, think again. Although the biggest country in Latin America has no representatives in the mainstream gaming industry, independent Brazilian developers are becoming some of the sector’s most respected actors. Some small and medium-sized gaming companies are even taking their products to the world’s biggest stage: China.

These companies are not fazed by the size of the Chinese market – which is known for being one of the world’s main centers for innovation and technological development. It also represents a major opportunity for companies to cash in.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Christian Lykawka, founder of the Rio Grande do Sul-based RockHead Games, explains why he&#8217;s taking his 13-employee company to the Chinese market: &#8220;It makes it that much easier to get into important stores and to find trade partners who can take us to larger audiences.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That&#8217;s how RockHead&#8217;s leading title, &#8220;Starlit Adventures,&#8221; managed to reach over 10 million downloads worldwide &#8211; half of them in China alone. Launched in 2015, the adventure game is made for gamers of all ages. Available on Google Play, Apple Store, and the PlayStation Store, the game was so successful that RockHead is thinking about creating an animated series for television.</span></p> <h3>Aiming high</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though many Brazilian industries focus their efforts on the domestic market (perfectly understandable in a country of 207 million), it makes sense for game developers to target <a href="https://brazilian.report/2017/10/17/china-influence-brazils-economy/">China</a> &#8211; which has one of the most online populations in the world. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 507-million people market has grabbed the attention of Brazilian independent game developers. Data from consulting firm PwC predicts a 9.7 percent compound annual growth rate for the Chinese gaming industry over the next five years. Revenue in the sector should jump from USD 20 billion last year to USD 31 billion in 2022.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mobile users alone account for 385 million gamers, who generate USD 11.7 million &#8211; according to a recent report by the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (<a href="http://bebrasil.com.br/">Apex-Brasil</a>). </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Local content is responsible for 55.3 percent of the mobile games played in China. However, Chinese gamers are very welcoming to international products, as was the case with Starlit Adventures.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Retro racing game Horizon Chase is another success story from Brazil. The game was developed by another company from Rio Grande do Sul, Aquiris Game Studio. Horizon Chase broke into the Chinese market in 2015, becoming the most-successful Brazilian game on the Apple Store. In 2016, it was elected one of the top 25 games of the year.</span></p> <h3>Gaming industry: barriers and strategies to grow</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Based in Recife, in Brazil&#8217;s Northeast region, publisher RaidHut works with Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs). These are games with a large number of players, from hundreds to thousands. The company has 11 people in the team and imports MMOs from China, South Korea and Japan. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">RaidHut Business Development Director Vicente Vieira explains that the challenges in the Asian market are mainly related to language barriers and to the lack of knowledge about the Brazilian audience: “Our primary target for Asian businesses are the MMO developers, but they do not usually speak English. It does not make the communication process easier, not even when we have translators to help. Therefore, negotiations are slow.” </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vieira is also a vice-president of the Brazilian Game Developers Association (Abragames). He says that the main players in the market would look almost exclusively to Asia, North America, and Europe for new games. Only now they have begun paying more attention to Latin America.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In order to get their name out there, Brazilian companies have started to attend several summits and gaming events in the Asian market. RaidHut, for example, is always present in events such as ChinaJoy and G-Star (South Korea), as both a benchmarking and networking tool. A constant presence in markets such as China is a must, as consumer behavior in these uber-connected places changes at a faster pace.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Christian </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Lykawka says that local partnerships in China, Japan and South Korea are mandatory for those looking to make business in Asia. “This is how we adapt our products to local markets, find distribution licenses more easily, and plan efficient marketing strategies.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He adds Brazil’s Independent Game Festival (June 23 to July 1st, in São Paulo), Game Developers Conference (United States) and Game Connection (France) to the list of global meetings where mid and small national developers must be in order to boost their businesses.

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TechJun 09, 2018

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BY Maria Martha Bruno

Maria Martha is a journalist with 14 years of experience in politics, arts, and breaking news. She has already collaborated with Al Jazeera, NBC, and CNN, among others. She has also worked as an international correspondent in Buenos Aires.