Brasil Game Show: 100,000 Gamers Can't Be Wrong
Marcelo Tavares on the industry's fastest growing game expo and its ambitious plans for the future
Marcelo Taveres is happy - tired, but happy. It is the final day of the fifth annual Brasil Game Show and, by the time Sao Paulo's Expo Center Norte closes this evening, more than 100,000 gamers will have passed through its doors. The demand for tickets has far out-stripped even Tavares' expectations, and, as the director of the show, he has spent this morning receiving warm congratulations from exhibitors, the most recent of which was from Tekken creator Katsuhiro Harada. Tired, but happy.
And this is only the beginning. After this year's success, the Brasil Game Show can now stand beside Gamescom, The Eurogamer Expo and PAX as one of the most important consumer expos in the games industry - a vital conduit between its biggest companies and the rapidly expanding audience in Latin America. In this exclusive interview, Tavares describes the Brasil Game Show's trajectory from 4,000 to 100,000 visitors in the space of half a decade, and its role in the fastest growing games market in the world.
Q: This year's show was almost double the size of last year. That sort of rapid growth can be difficult to manage. Were the exhibitors happy?
Marcelo Tavares: Yes. In fact, we were surprised, because it was even better than we expected. We had hundreds of journalists here, we had huge coverage on TV in Brasil, and some on TV in other countries in Latin America. We have been in meetings with companies that aren't here this year, and they are already asking what space is available. It is excellent for us.
"I can tell you that League of Legends is the biggest success that I have ever seen in Brasil. Everybody everywhere plays League of Legends"
On the other side, companies [that are here this year] like Riot Games are saying they want double the space. Sony wants double the space. It's not so easy to double every year, but there will definitely be more space and one extra day next year. To be honest, I think if we had three times more space there would be enough visitors.
Q: How much bigger will next year be?
Marcelo Tavares: It will be twice as big as this year, and this year we had 100,000 visitors.
Q: Are there any companies that you would like to be a part of next year's show?
Marcelo Tavares: Many companies. I would like for Rockstar to be here, and I have just had a meeting with Namco, who want to be here next year. Blizzard is one of the PC online game companies talking to me, saying they need to be here next year. We had the international director from Unity here: there was a game made with Unity in the game jam, and they want a booth here. We're very happy with these impressions.
But I think next year we need more companies from mobile development, because there is huge potential for that market in Brasil - soon we will have a Foxconn factory making iPhones and iPads here.
Q: But next year is likely to reward a strong console focus. Most people believe there will be a new Xbox and a new PlayStation console by the end of 2013.
Marcelo Tavares: Yes, if there were two new consoles at the same time it would be huge for us. And everywhere else.
Q: I noticed that the most popular booth was for League of Legends. It was also one of the biggest on the show-floor.
Marcelo Tavares: I can tell you that League of Legends is the biggest success that I have ever seen in Brasil. Everybody everywhere plays League of Legends: my son plays it, all of his friends play it, everybody wants to play it.
Q: Is that just because of the free-to-play model? How attractive is that to Brasilian gamers?
"Next year we need more companies from mobile development, because there is huge potential for that market in Brasil"
Marcelo Tavares: Console games are very expensive in Brasil, if they are not produced here in the country. But it is getting better.
Q: Microsoft is assembling the Xbox here now, and manufacturing the games, but Sony and Nintendo haven't made the same commitment yet.
Marcelo Tavares: Sony makes the games here, but not the console.
Q: But that still means that the console is very expensive. Right now, the Xbox 360 is much better value than its competitors, and I find it surprising that Sony and Nintendo would allow Microsoft to have that advantage.
Marcelo Tavares: If we have a similar price for PlayStation, Wii and the Xbox you will see an explosion [in the console market]. The Xbox has had fantastic growth here.
Q: Do you think Sony will follow Microsoft's lead soon?
Marcelo Tavares: I know that Sony sees Brasil as the number one country for investment in the world, so of course they will produce [the PlayStation in Brasil] one day. I don't know what it will take for that to begin. I think Sony will start earlier than Nintendo, probably, because Sony has had a PlayStation division in Brasil since 2010. I think they were surprised at the number of fans.
Q: It's hard to ignore the sheer number of people out there on the floor, lining up to play console games.
Marcelo Tavares: That's the importance of the Brasil Game Show: it makes the potential of the market obvious to everybody.
Q: This is the fifth year of the Brasil Game Show. Is this the first one to really communicate the country's interest in gaming?
Marcelo Tavares: Yes. We started with a show of 4000 people, the second year was 8000, then 30,000, then 60,000 last year. I think that last year was when companies really saw the importance of investing, but after this year I think the interest will be ten times more.
"If we have a similar price for PlayStation, Wii and the Xbox you will see an explosion in the console market"
With Microsoft, they didn't sell many Xbox 360s here, but as soon as they had them in the stores, in the supermarkets, Kinect advertising on the television, and the games localised in Portugese, even people who don't earn good salaries still bought an Xbox 360.
Q: So is your goal for the Brasil Game Show to become as big as Gamescom or E3?
Marcelo Tavares: I think we have that potential. I personally love E3 - and it's completely different from this show - but for years Brasilians have watched E3 on the TV, and we want to bring some of that here: the same appearance and the same appeal.
Q: Based on my experience of Gamescom, I think you're almost there. Walking the floor here is very similar to Gamescom: the same companies, and the same games. But it's still mostly international in focus, with very few companies that started in Brasil. Will that change?
Marcelo Tavares: Yes, it will change. Our biggest company is Hoplon, and the rest are smaller companies making games for PC, for mobile, for Facebook. What's missing is console development. We need a company like Unity to come to Brasil so we can start producing games for PlayStation 3 and for Xbox 360. That's what's missing. It has happened in the past, but not at the right time for Brasil. It was a chance that we lost, but now is the right time to realise our potential. New console games can be produced here and sold all over the world.