Where video game conventions draw 3L

Where video game conventions draw 3L

Where video game conventions draw 3L
This week, 300,000 video game fans, developers and publishers like Sony, Ubisoft, Activision and Microsoft plan to congregate so they can showcase their wares and participate in a cosplay zone, an e-sports tournament and a 48-hour jam.

Their destination: São Paulo, Brazil.

The gathering is the Brasil Game Show, Latin America’s largest gaming convention, which has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2009. The event is one of several international video game shows that have swelled in size recently. Gamescom, held in Cologne, Germany, and generally hailed as the world’s biggest gaming convention, welcomed about 350,000 attendees this year, up from 275,000 five years ago. The Tokyo Game Show, which has been held annually since 1996, broke its attendance record last year with over 271,000 visitors, up from 224,000 five years ago.

All of these exceed the biggest video game trade show in the United States, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, which is held in Los Angeles and has generally been closed to the public. This year, E3 opened up to attendees from outside the video game industry and had 68,000 attendees, compared with 45,700 five years ago.

The size and spectacle of the international gaming shows underline how the video game industry is less and less American-centric.

The global games market is $105 billion, according to SuperData Research. Asia dominates with a 47% share, according to the video game researcher Newzoo, while North America makes up 25% and Latin America 4%. Latin America, however, is growing the most quickly, according to Newzoo.

“Games are now being designed, marketed and sold in ways that are customized for a particular country or region,” said Mat Piscatella, a games industry analyst at NPD Group. “Gaming conventions are more common around the world, and at the same time the advent of game streaming tools like YouTube and Twitch are allowing anyone with a web browser to see these games for themselves in whatever language they choose.”

The forces driving growth of video games in international markets are different from those in the United States. In Europe, developers are making games that focus on their national identities. One example is the independent video game “Regional Nightclub Bouncer,” which is made by a small British studio, PanicBarn, and homes in on two very British things: queuing at a nightclub, and Brexit.

“You can see national identity coming through in the games, as they draw on aspects of their own cultural histories to make their work stand out in a crowded marketplace,” said Matthew Handrahan, editor-in-chief at GamesIndustry.Biz, a website that tracks trends in international gaming markets.

In Asia, mobile games and free-to-play PC games are popular, while first-person shooter franchises like “Call of Duty,” published by Activision, and “Battlefield,” published by Electronic Arts, barely register with players in South Korea, Japan and China.

“If you look at lists of the most popular games from a given year in each country, you’d be lucky to recognize more than a couple of games in the top 10,” Handrahan said.

In the North American market, the types of games that become blockbusters are comparatively homogeneous.

In Latin America, there is a greater emphasis on PC games, particularly free-to-play ones, than console games. That is because people cannot pay for anything in an online game without a credit card, which Brazilian gamers typically do not use.

Other challenges, like internet infrastructure and a complicated tax system that imposes high import rates on products not made in the country, have stopped Latin America from obtaining some video game systems at an affordable price.An Xbox 360 cost the equivalent of $1,450 in Latin America when it first appeared, about three times the price in the United States, Handrahan said.

Marcelo Tavares, a former video game reporter, created the Brasil Game Show after attending E3 in 2006. The inaugural event, in 2009, attracted just 4,000 visitors.

“The biggest challenges were to gain the trust of the public and companies to have them here,” Tavares said. “In each edition of the show, we have to push expectations further in order to please everyone — visitors and exhibitors alike.”

The show’s popularity has highlighted the opportunity in the Brazilian market.

In August, a Japanese video game designer, Hideo Kojima, creator of the highly successful “Metal Gear Solid” franchise, published by Konami, said he would attend the Brasil Game Show for the first time to receive a lifetime achievement award, as well as to participate in a panel about his professional career and meet fans.

The Brasil Game Show also plans to have a special area for international guests, which it had not done before. Apart from Kojima, VIPs coming from overseas include Ed Boon, a co-creator of the “Mortal Kombat” fighting game series, and Nolan Bushnell, the Atari founder and one of the so-called founding fathers of the industry.

Tavares said the number of Brazilian video game studios had grown by 600 percent in the last eight years and stood at about 500. More U.S. video game companies have also established a presence in Latin America.

“The Brazilian market has enormous potential,” said Bertrand Chaverot, managing director of Latin America for Ubisoft. “By the end of 2017, there will be one smartphone per citizen, representing approximately 208 million mobile devices, in addition to the 166 million PCs.”

He added, “As Brazil can be considered the engine of the South American market, it is expected that its growth will push the whole region as well.”

International New York Times