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Brazilians are gung-ho for games, but they don’t always pay for them

Brazilians are becoming more and more enthralled with games, but they don’t always pay. That’s a contradiction that is common in emerging markets where free-to-play mobile and social games are taking off.

Brazil is both a fast-growing economy and a place where it isn’t easy to get your hands on game hardware, especially game consoles that are taxed heavily because they aren’t locally manufactured.

Brazil is one of the fastest-growing markets for social games in the world, and the overall market is $2 billion a year, according to market researcher Newzoo’s estimate in 2011. It has millions of active gamers and billions of page views, according to UOL BoaCompra, a gaming monetization firm that is part of UOL, which is like the AOL of Brazil. The gaming data is based on UOL BoaCompra’s first large survey of more than 18,000 gamers.

Brazil has more than 35 million active gamers (out of a population of 196 million), and they spend about 64 million hours per day playing games, Newzoo says. The number is expected to grow to 52 million social gamers by 2014. UOL BoaCompra has more than 1.2 billion monthly game-related page views, and UOL has more than 70 percent of Brazil’s Internet users (about 55 percent of the population can access the web). By 2014, Brazil’s social gaming market is expected to hit $238 million, according to market analyst SuperData.

“The number of gamers is about the same level as you see in Germany,” Julian Migura, the director of international business development at UOL BoaCompra, told GamesBeat. “But in terms of money, Brazil’s gamers spend more money than all of Latin America.”

Migura said that Android is just starting to take hold in the market, and Apple’s iPhones are still “ridiculously overpriced” because of the import tax. Nevertheless, Brazilians have taken to mobile apps and games in a big way. Of those who play mobile games, about 48 percent play only free games. And 45 percent regularly download game apps. About 21 percent of the game downloads are illegal apps.

The survey showed about 23 percent of Brazilian Internet users play games regularly. About 31 percent of all men in Brazil are gamers. The computer gamers are much older than typical console gamers, where the average age is 19. PC gamers have more disposable income, and they’ve moved into online, social, and mobile games.

About 67 percent of players play games on consoles. About 42 percent play on PCs. Some 16 percent play on mobile devices. Seven percent play on portable gaming devices. And only 1 percent play on tablets. About 64 percent of Brazilian Internet users are on social networks, and 76 percent of them play social games on the networks.

Console gaming suffers from high piracy rates. The PlayStation 2 game console is still overpriced, with the import taxes, at $250. But that’s down from its introduction price of $1,000. A single game could cost $120 after the tax is applied. By contrast, apps sold electronically are not taxed heavily since they are considered software.

The most popular games include new titles such as League of Legends, a game that is also popular in the West and Asia. As the chart at the top shows, the most popular genre is action/adventure games, played by 31 percent of gamers. About 23 percent of gamers play soccer, and 10 percent play car-racing games.

But the popular games are a mix of old and new. Console and PC games play older titles because that is what their hardware can run. But online and mobile gamers can play a lot of the most popular titles worldwide, said Migura.

“Brazil is catching up,” he said.


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