A kid playing Free Fire on a cell phone
A kid playing Free Fire on a cell phone. Photo: Stanisic Vladimir/Shutterstock.com

Who plays video games in Brazil?

That's what the new edition of the PGB research, which analysis Brazil's gaming industry since 2013, details. LABS talked to the survey's coordinator Carlos Eduardo da Silva, head of gaming at Go Gamers and Sioux Group

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Since 2013, Pesquisa Games Brasil (PGB) has been outlining the Brazilian gamer’s profile. Besides continuing this work, the 2021 edition, published this week, sheds light on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in a sector that, due to its characteristics, had everything to gain projection at a time like this – and it did.

Due to a coincidence of dates, the 2021’s PGB obtained an accurate picture of the pandemic impact on Brazil‘s gaming industry. “Last year, we conducted [the survey] in February, so we had the behavior before the pandemic,” explains Carlos Eduardo da Silva, head of gaming at Go Gamers and Sioux Group, responsible for organizing the PGB research, which also has Blend New Research and ESPM as partners. “Now, we did the research in that same period, in February 2021, so we were able to have an accurate picture of how much this [gaming] consumption really increased.”

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The most significant highlight, therefore, was the increase in gaming as a whole. “The public, in general, is the same as last year, but now people are spending more time at home, working from home, with more time available. Consequently, we had an increase in playing time,” explains Carlos. Of the 12,498 people interviewed in 26 states and the Federal District, 72% declared themselves to be gamers – people who usually play electronic games, regardless of the platform.

Two thirds (75.8%) of the interviewed players said they had increased the time they spend playing games during isolation periods. Almost half (42.2%) said they were spending more money on digital games in the same period as well. This increase in interest has extrapolated the games themselves: 60.9% said they are watching more game-related content.

PGB’s figures support Carlos’ assessment. Trends that defy common sense and that had already been detected in previous editions, such as the strong female presence (the majority, or 51.5% of gamers, are women) and the democratizing role of cell phones (the leading platform in preference, with 41.6%), remained – even though these same aspects presented, this time, small retractions. In the 2020 edition, for example, women accounted for 53.8% of the total of gamers and cell phones was the favored platform for 52% of gamers.

When crossing data from different panels, PGB 2021 reveals points of view that are still marginally approached in the Brazilian gamer market. “The smartphone was the main point of contact [with the gaming industry] for the female audience,” exemplifies Carlos. “It is not that there are no women on the console and the PC. But smartphones are a more accessible, more practical platform; it’s the same cell phone you use to do many other things (…). When we break the data per platform, you see that most women appear using cell phones.”

62.2% of female gamers in Brazil

play games on their cell phones. In consoles and computers, this proportion is reversed: men are still the majority using these devices, 61.9% and 59.6%, respectively.

The future of games is mobile (and belongs to middle and low-income players in Brazil)

Another group strengthened by the mobile rise in the gaming industry is composed of less affluent classes, people from classes C (with a family income between 4 to 10 minimum wages, today at BRL 1,100) and D (from 2 to 4 minimum wages) in Brazil. And this phenomenon is elementary: the entry barrier is lower with cell phones. They are cheaper than PCs and consoles (the new generation ones cost around BRL 5,000 or $890).

Carlos Eduardo da Silva, from Go Gamers/Sioux Group. Photo: Go Gamers/Courtesy.

The smartphone gives you access. That is the crucial point. And people want to play

Carlos Eduardo da Silva, head of gaming at Go Gamers and Sioux Group.

And they really want it: the survey found that 77.3% of players belong to classes B2 (people that earn up to 10 minimal wages a month), C, and D. These classes, which previously had no access through PCs and consoles, can now do so thanks to their cell phones. “This is very significant,” says Carlos.

Carlos points out the technical advancement of cell phones and the huge base of potential users as the factors responsible for the greater attention that game producers have given to the devices, with investments in new titles, tournaments, and their promotion. Even competitive games, the so-called esports, which demand precision and quality impossible on mobile phones until recently, have surrendered to touch-sensitive screens.

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“Today, you have games and products that give you a good online experience. Fortnite, Free Fire, Among Us, all these games, which have been very successful in recent years, are also on mobile,” recalls Carlos. Free Fire, which is exclusive to cell phones, is pointed out as an example to be followed: “An ecosystem has been created around it, of content creators, esports. The experience [on the cell phone] is good, and it suits the vast majority of the public.”

The evolution of cell phones as gaming platforms has generated a curious effect: the so-called “hardcore” gamers, those who invest more and get used to playing on expensive consoles and PCs, are opening up space in their routines to play on their cell phones as well. “You have a casual audience [on cell phones], which is already a majority, and a hardcore audience, which is multiplatform. The latter continues to play on the console, on the PC but will embrace the phone as another platform. Thus, the cell phone will continue to grow in terms of revenue and consumption,” says Carlos.

Diversity among players, and the lack of representativeness on the screens

This year, the PGB registered the players’ ethnicity. It found that blacks and browns are the majority of the players (50.3%), which, according to the study, “makes evident the particularities of the Brazilian ethnic composition”. Despite this, there is still a lack of representativeness – there are few black characters in electronic games. If, on the one hand, this audience is present, on the other hand, there is a lack of diversity in the game producers.

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On the consumption side, the PGB 2021 survey reveals a different scenario, which can be shocking for those who still see this market as a predominantly male and elite. “The world of games is diverse, it is for everyone,” reinforces Carlos. “When we think about platforms, in public, here in Brazil, mainly, we believe that everyone has the right to entertainment.”

Whether the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting or not concerning the gamers’ habits remains to be seen. “I often joke that once a gamer, always a gamer. You can even stop playing due to the new responsibilities, lack of time, but if you had a nice experience, you discovered something new, like playing online, for sure you will continue to do so. It is something that will continue in the future,” he says.

Translated by Fabiane Ziolla Menezes