We are at a time of year when it is very likely that some people are opening new video games as a gift, to have fun soon with releases like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. That’s if we think about a very specific bubble.
PS5 and the new ones Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S were launched in Brazil and worldwide. Here, these consoles can cost up to R $ 4,700, more than four times the current minimum wage in the country, of R $ 1,045. So, the question remains: new video game for whom? Even though the consoles are sold out at most official stores and retailers, many people haven’t been able to buy them, and they won’t be able to do it anytime soon.
Brazil is a country where retro gadgets are still made quite often. Officially or not. Tec Toy sells “new” models of Mega Drive, for example – the device was launched in 1988 for the first time and today it is found for about R $ 400 in the main stores.
There is a certain dichotomy when it comes to video games in Brazil. It is not a product of primary need, but just for that reason should we disregard people who are unable to buy one? Thus are born solutions, debates and ideas that can help the market – and help more people access video games, whether new or old.
Video games have never been cheap. In 1993, a Super Nintendo was sold for CR $ 25 thousand (real cruzeiros) – today this value is equivalent to more than R $ 2.1 thousand. According to the Computer Notebook d ’The state of Sao Paulo, the Nintendo 64 was launched in Brazil in 1997, for R $ 700 – at the time the Brazilian minimum wage was R $ 120.
There does not seem to be a practical solution for having cheap video games in Brazil. Even abroad, launches are not considered cheap products, no matter how different the comparison parameter is.
Brunette Allemann, a specialist in finance and investments in Brazil and abroad, talked to me to talk about the relationship we have with the consumption of this type of product here – and also how that relationship is for an American.
Our first point of the conversation was precisely about the purchasing power of those who live in the USA. There, the PS5 costs $ 400 to $ 500, which may or may not be a very high price for most Americans.
“For them, a $ 400 video game is relatively expensive. Unlike a $ 600 iPhone, because with an iPhone he is paying for the phone plan he will use, which he would spend monthly and for daily use without stopping. For a $ 400 video game it doesn’t have that. And there is no installment payment there, as in Brazil, they have to pay this amount in cash. Lower-class families spend this in two or three months on the market, ”he said.
So, yes, video games are a luxury item even for an American. As much as the average salary there is much higher than here. “And in the USA, there is no‘ minimum wage ’like in Brazil. There is an average of values, but it differs from those who live in New York and those who live in Texas, for example. The cost of living in NY is much higher and the purchasing power has to be higher. In the last few months, it is possible to estimate that the average salary in the USA is, on average, between US $ 7.25 to US $ 12 per hour ”, he added.
But, even if it is a luxury item in most parts of the world, especially in Brazil, should a new video game be exclusive to a higher class of the population?
Not necessarily. In addition to price reduction policies, such as reducing or eliminating certain taxes, it is also necessary to think culturally. A middle or lower class person can, and should, add a little money every month to buy an Xbox Series X, for example, if they wish. But the scenario is still unlikely due to a series of problems, usually taxes.
“It is impossible to sell the PS5 for R $ 1,000 in Brazil, no matter how much they just reduce taxes. The issue is one: our currency is very devalued. Everything that is imported needs to be converted, with the high dollar you cannot reach a minimum price. And even if the video game cost US $ 200, you would not be able to sell for R $ 1,000, for logistical reasons that go beyond the stability of our currency ”.
Bruna Allemann, specialist in finance and investments in Brazil and abroad
She also recalls that some devices have already been manufactured in Brazil, both on the Sony side, as on the Microsoft side, but that does not happen anymore. Even so, even if it were the case today, the parts would have taxes, the cost of sale for each state receives a different tax, and so on.
“It is a chain of taxes. The product already enters Brazil with import tax, with IPI, with currency conversion, with insurance costs, ICMS for each state, logistics and in the end the profit margin of everyone involved. To give you an idea, in 2016 a car that cost US $ 9 thousand, with the dollar at R $ 2.60 at the beginning of the year, arrived in Brazil for R $ 99 thousand ”, recalled the economist.
That is why a mere reduction in the IPI, Tax on Industrialized Products, does not solve, nor does it begin to solve, the problem of inflated prices of electronics and imported into the country, however much it is presented loaded with some goodwill. A solution, according to Bruna, would be a complete tax reform, accompanied by financial education and cultural change.
“We have to encourage that it is not always necessary to have the latest generation device, no matter how attractive it is. You can have one that fits in your pocket, or that meets your need. Financial education is a very good thing to be taught to children today, beyond that it creates a habit of conscious consumption, makes a very big difference ”, concluded.
And, well, what Bruna pointed out is very consistent with the reality of the video game market in Brazil, especially the used one. And this is where I’m going to go now.
Not everything is lost
Beat phrase, I know, but all is not lost, in fact. As much as video games are expensive in Brazil and in the world, there are initiatives and alternatives for those who want to consume the media and play, in some way.
Even if it involves having access to older consoles, the fun still lives there. The experience of playing a Yoshi’s Island for the first time, for example, it can be magic for a certain type of player. It is a game that has aged well, has an incredible charm and beautiful graphics even for the current parameters.
It is very easy to forget that not everyone started playing in the “Era of Atari”. I am 35 years old myself and I started at this time, I went through all generations and had contact with all consoles. But there are players in their 15s or 20s who were born at the time of the PS2, Dreamcast, Xbox or GameCube, for example.
So it is not all bad if, in the middle of the PS5 or Xbox Series X, a person wants to buy a Super Nintendo or a PSOne to take advantage of what that device has to offer. This is where initiatives aimed at preserving the market, memory and conservation of old appliances come in.
One of them is the Historical Society of Video Games of Brazil, or SHVB, a non-profit entity that aims to rescue and preserve the memory of Brazilian video games. Do you know that “Phantom System”, which was a very popular national clone of Nintendinho, in the 90s? So.
SHVB has been working since 2017, actively searching for material to be preserved, since electronic devices do not always receive the deserved treatment. For this reason, they receive, and publish, donations or purchases of antiques, normally disclosed on their social networks.
There are also initiatives that are more present in everyday life, and fully accessible within a mall, for example. This is the case of the Itinerant Videogame Museum.
Retrogaming as consumption
Cleidson Lima has been playing since he was 6 years old, starting with a game made by the old Philco-Ford. Today, at 48, he is the director and one of those responsible for Itinerant Video Game Museum, which proposes to visit shopping malls all over Brazil, to show classic and modern video games, with free games for all types of public.
In 2015 and 2016, the project took more than 7 million visitors to shopping malls and major exhibitions across the country. They are consoles of all generations, from the first video game in the world to the current ones. In addition to experiencing rarities of the past four decades, visitors can also play in dozens of titles that have made history.
The Museum was born out of Cleidson’s passion as a collector. It has over 400 consoles, including duplicate, backup models, and I think it would be a good idea to show some of them across the country. The initiative worked: before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Itinerant Video Game Museum had activities in several malls throughout the year, without ever stopping.
“Even with the pandemic, none of our contracts were canceled. It is impossible to carry out the Museum with the existing security protocols, as it is interactive, it is not possible to be isolated. That is why we will only return when all this is over, but the project remains firm, ”said Cleidson Lima, Tecnoblog.
Thanks to the Museum and his passion, Cleidson is a fan of “retrogaming”, a term given to the collection of consoles and old games, or not so old. Devices with 15 years of launch, for example, can now enter the category. So retrogaming can be an alternative for those who want to continue playing video games, but don’t have a lot of money to spend, right?
Not quite right.
According to Cleidson, collecting is a gold mine and, in many cases, an old console can cost more than a PS5, for example. “A Divers 2000 CX-1, which is a Dreamcast that comes with a monitor, nowadays it costs from R $ 20 thousand to R $ 25 thousand. Just for reference, on eBay, at the moment, there is one selling for R $ 23 thousand, but in Brazil it can be even more expensive ”, he said.
“Those who have it are collectors called ‘premium collectors’, who sometimes buy and don’t even play, use it only as a trophy for the collection”, pointed out Cleidson. “The average player does not go to such a console. He goes for a Super Nintendo, a cheaper Mega Drive. You can find these for up to R $ 150, if you can research them properly ”, he added.
The biggest problem, according to Cleidson, is in the bottleneck of games, original or not. “A Super Mario 3 pirate is R $ 150, that is, the price of the device. Fortunately, today we have a culture of multiplayer cartridges, which come with dozens of games in memory, which opened up this range a little. For those who just want to play without spending a lot, it’s a great alternative ”, he said.
For newer devices, the Museum organizer also leaves the tip:
“One of the best options for retro gamers is the Wii. It is a cheap console, it costs about R $ 200 or R $ 300, depending on the state. Another is the PS2. And they are usually always unlocked! It is very rare to find a PS2 with a disc player working today. These consoles get old, the equipment ‘tires’, so what people do is stick a USB stick with games and enjoy it ”.
In fact, the two devices are no longer manufactured by their respective companies. The PS2 was officially discontinued in January 2013. The Wii the same year, but in October. As much as the practice of modifying consoles may come up against legal barriers, companies do not even offer technical support or manufacture more games – and their online modes no longer work either.
Cleidson also indicates where to buy:
“The Free Market is not so good, although it can be used, as prices there are inflated. But OLX is cool, because it is more ‘local’, the Facebook and Instagram Marketplace. Even at ‘roller fairs’, those that take place on city streets, outside the pandemic. But the best alternative is in your neighborhood. The greatest treasures of retrogaming are in the grandmothers’ cabinets. The child grows up, becomes an adult, marries and moves out of his parents ‘or grandparents’ house, relatives keep these old games as a childhood memory and do not want to throw them away, but sometimes they sell cheap. It works very well for you to post notices where you live, saying that you buy used video games! ”.
But game accessibility, even modern, can go far beyond old consoles. On newer phones it is possible to play games for free, some very trendy.
Mobile is also a game!
In a survey conducted by the site GamingScan, in February 2020, the mobile market remained ahead of that of consoles and PCs. Analysts at Newzoo indicated that mobile games represent 38% of the gaming industry’s revenue in 2020, with the possibility of reaching 41% by 2022.
Games like Pokémon Go, Monster Strike, Candy Crush Saga, Mobile Legends and Free Fire they amuse, and a lot, audiences of all ages – and they should not be underestimated, no matter how “hardcore gamers” continue to bother with mobile platforms, which are supposedly “not video games”.
And playing on mobile is easy. Some games run on devices that cost less than R $ 1,000. Depending on the game, you can even play on a modest computer, emulating Android through BlueStacks.
Taking as an example a very popular one: a lot of people wrinkle their noses at Free Fire, but the game has the enormous advantage of being accessible and light. It is available for free on iOS and Android and runs on almost any more modest phone – to give you an idea, it requires Android 4.1 to work, while we are currently running version 10 of the operating system.
Wellington Paulo dos Santos, the El Crack, was one of the young people Free Fire stood out in the crowd. El Racha is 25 years old and lived in Alagoas. He came to São Paulo at 18 to look for work and help his family. He worked at several companies and, for six months, drove Uber. In 2018, his life changed thanks to the game.
El Racha started playing Free Fire as fun and without pretending to become a star. Over time he joined a professional team, made famous friends and today has a streaming channel on NimoTV, with more than 1 million subscribers – in addition to millions of followers on social networks. All of this in just two years.
“I used to play at a lan house, you know? I played Counter-Strike with the kids, then I had a PS2, but my first video game was a PolyStation, 10 years old, ”said El Racha, when he talked to me.
For those who don’t know, the PolyStation was a very well-known video game in Brazil that became a meme for being a copy of the PlayStation, but that only ran Nintendinho games. It was supposedly designed to try to “trick” parents who bought a cheap video game for their children, but who was not a PlayStation and did not run Sony games.
Still, it is necessary to think macro: just as PolyStation opened the door for El Racha to practice his talent from an early age, he may have done something similar for other people who today have fun or play professionally.
“Today I broadcast at least 22 days a month on my Nimo channel. I can help my family with this, help my mother-in-law, who also works with me, I pay her a salary. O Free Fire it was the game that changed my life and I hope to achieve even more, help more people ”, added El Racha.
It was also the Free Fire who launched other names well-known by gamers to the national and international scene, such as Nobru and Bruno Playhard, who, by the way, are friends of El Racha. “I already played with Nobru! But I still want to play with Playhard, ”he said.
Free Fire it is also always on top of the most downloaded in iOS and Android stores. In addition, according to market analysis website SensorTower, in November 2020 alone it totaled 1 million downloads, in addition to $ 16 million in revenue. Think better the next time your son or daughter wants to train in the game with the intention of, later on, trying a career in the field. It is definitely an option.
More options for everyone
So yes, video games are expensive. Yes, we are not always able to have the newest console of each generation. And yes, a simple reduction of IPI or some tax alone from the government will not solve this situation. But there are options.
What we have left, as players, is to pursue alternatives. When a new video game is released, it is common for owners of old consoles to sell their devices to buy the new one. And these old ones go into the hands of someone who didn’t have them yet.
With the arrival of the PS5, many people took advantage that the PS4 would be more affordable in the used market and debuted in the fourth generation of Sony. There are still other projects that go beyond the Videogame Museum, for those who want to play without spending a lot.
I quote a few:
- BoJogá – BoJogá is another museum of electronic games, which preserves the history of devices and promotes exhibitions and activities. Keeping in touch is a good alternative for those who want to know more about retrogaming in Brazil
- Passa Controle – Created by Erick Santos, Passa Controle is a social project that aims to donate old video games to those who cannot afford to buy one. It is possible to sign up on the official website to donate or receive, whether for games, video game devices or both.
- Troca Jogo – Troca Jogo is a social network for those who buy games on physical media, get tired and want to exchange for someone else, without spending anything. It is possible to register for free, register your catalog of titles from a wish list. The website matches, when an opportunity appears.
Not to mention alternatives and events that occur throughout Brazil, when there is no more pandemic. Herself Brasil Game Show, despite being a paid and expensive event, it is a sea of games of all kinds for the public to enjoy. The Big Festival it is usually free, or has a modest ticket as an entrance, with several independent games stations – many Brazilians – for those who want to know and play.
Of course, in addition to everything that was discussed in the report, such as cell phone games, the appeal to esports and retrogaming in general. New video games will continue to be expensive worldwide, but we can test alternatives. Although it is not a miraculous way as they usually “sell”, charging the government for more affordable prices is always a good idea, and this in relation to any government, even though the results are not always satisfactory.