This is a very useful study about the mobile game industry at Brazil.
Writen by: Chris Morrison – Insights & Best Practices
As part of South America’s grouping of diverse and historic countries, it’s often easy to forget that Brazil is a life force all it’s own — not just culturally, but physically. Brazil actually makes up most of the continent on which it resides. By land area, it is 5th largest in the world, after the United States; its population also ranks 5th, at 200 million.
So why is this giant so quiet in our mobile game industry? We asked the same question recently about India, concluding that the world’s 2nd most populous country is held back mainly by low adoption of smartphones and inability to pay. But Brazil, with an earnings per person over 7 times larger than India’s and a famously outgoing, social culture, is a different story.
Mobile Games in Brazil
From an outside view, it seems that demand for games should be stunted in Brazil. Until the turn of the century, Brazil’s government levied a combination of high taxes and embargoes on tech and video game products, preventing most consoles from legally competing.
As in countries like China, the government’s resistance to video games served only to shift, rather than to limit, Brazilians’ demand for games. According to a recent study by analyst firm Blend and game developer Sioux, 83 percent of self-identified game players say their preferred platform is mobile phones — higher than PCs, at 71 percent, or consoles, at 56 percent.
Brazil’s love affair with mobile games is reflected in Chartboost’s year-over-year game session growth data for Brazil, which shows strong growth across nearly every mobile game category during the past year, led by roleplaying games:
Appreciation for mobile games in Brazil is offset somewhat by lagging smartphone penetration. Although growing strongly, smartphones are only owned by 23 percent of the population. This is one of the major factors currently keeping Brazil from becoming a top 5 market in terms of revenue.
Those that do own smartphones actually monetize significantly in freemium games, unlike some developing markets. Although there are some payment issues (primarily lack of credit cards), Brazilians who do pay spend 10-60 Reals per game (about $3-$20 USD), according to the Sioux/Blend study. The entire market was worth about $1.5 billion in 2014, according to SuperData Research.
Advertising CPIs are also decent in the country, lagging somewhat behind countries like China and Russia. The top paying categories are casual, roleplaying and strategy.
One more surprising detail is Google’s strength in the market. While most developing countries do favor Android, Brazil has recently given Android nearly complete dominance, with Kantar World Panel’s latest data showing a full 90 percent of new smartphone sales going to Android phones.
What Are the Top Genres?
Brazilian gamers have tastes similar to their cultural cousins in the United States and Europe. The top 25 paid and top 25 grossing app list for either iOS or Google Play, in particular, overlaps strongly with what’s popular in other Western countries, and is comprised almost solely of games made outside of Brazil.
Although the top of the charts is reflective of current international hits, Brazilians do have some genre preferences that can push certain games higher in the rankings, including casual, sports and puzzle.
The focus on casual and puzzle games makes sense. Like most developing countries, Brazil is home to many lower-end devices, which require less resource-intensive games. These categories are where a few made-in-Brazil games break out. For instance, Brazil’s second most popular sport is kite battling, represented currently by the low-end games like Pipa Combate Mania: Battle Kite.
But the preference for small games is not as pronounced as in poorer countries like India. In fact, newer devices and the spread of 4G networks may already be changing tastes — as seen in the growth chart above, the role-playing category is enjoying breakout success.
Tips for Success
Within Brazil, developers are proliferating. “Before 2011 there was no real industry structure. Studios were coming and going. Since then, we’ve been getting a better situation,” says Gerson de Sousa, the executive manager at industry organization Abragames.
This works out to over 20 new studios founded each year, totaling 133 currently in operation, according to stats compiled by the Brazilian Development Bank. However, most of these studios are very small — 100 have less than 10 employees, and only 5 have 30 to 50 employees.
Compared to Brazil’s other, traditionally much stronger entertainment industries, its game industry is barely present. However, de Sousa thinks this will change. “Brazilian music is quite strong. The cinema has begun to get popular and break records. So what we need now is to see this phenomenon in games as well,” he says.
The missing ingredient is experience, according to Jason Della Rocca, co-founder of the accelerator Execution Labs. “I’m a fan of Brazil. The developers are amazingly talented. They will likely gain more global recognition as their business acumen improves and their games reach a more global audience,” he says.
For outside developers coming in, the field is still wide open. A focus on Android is obvious and, if you’re really serious about Brazil, perhaps a try at a game based on the national favorite — football (aka soccer).
More large developers are also devoting resources to Brazilian Portuguese language localization. For good reason: in Education First’s country-based tests of English language proficiency, Brazilians rank in the bottom 50 percent, right underneath China. Localization may take some work, though, as Portuguese words are commonly much longer than their English counterparts.
Finally, keep an eye on social when it comes to Brazilians. At 70.5 million Facebook users — the 3rd largest country in the world for the social network. Many Brazilians also use Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter religiously. Give Brazilians something to share, and your game could be the next hit in the country.