The Brazilian participation in the international gaming scene has been growing every year, whether in consumption, number of players or in the development and production of games. The largest game market in Latin America, the country is expected to have handled US$ 2.3 billion in 2021 and to increase this revenue by approximately 6% in 2022, according to the consultancy Newzoo.
In this scenario, attention is drawn to the increasing demand of large global developers for national studios, which are hired to produce or assist in specific parts of their games, in a practice known as XD (external development). Brazil's prominence in the segment has just become even more evident with the publication of the XDS (External Development Summit), a global event that is a reference in XD, which places the country for the second consecutive year as the main emerging market in the segment.
The Abragames (Brazilian Association of Electronic Game Developers), which has been working for almost twenty years to strengthen the national game development industry, celebrates the result, also the result of the association's own efforts to give visibility to the quality and competence of the country's studios.
Since the first edition of XDS, in 2013, Abragames has participated in the event and organized the delegations Brazil Games, in its export sector project carried out by the association in partnership with Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (ApexBrasil), which supports the Brazilian development companies that participate in the event, giving full support to the dissemination of projects and stimulating the generation of business.
“The big moment for the global XD industry takes place in September, during XDS, and Abragames' mission is to coordinate, strengthen and promote the Brazilian digital games industry, being its representative and interlocutor within this international ecosystem. It is a pride to see the prominence that Brazil has had in XD and to recognize the role of our Brazilian entourage”, he says. Rodrigo Terra, president of hugs.
In addition to XDS, Brazil Games also works with Brazilian studios in other major events, such as GDC, Gamescom and BIG Festival, which brings the big names of the industry to Brazil to do business with national developers.
Eliana Russi, international director of Abragames, corroborates the speech and extols the importance of the Brazilian presence in international events. “We know that partnerships for the development of a AAA project require a relationship of trust between the parties and Brazilian companies have built this by participating in global events, such as XDS”.
For Terra, among the qualities that give national studios such a leading role are the creativity of Brazilians, the open and flexible culture, the ability to adapt and communicate, the balanced time zone for both the United States and Europe and the technical aptitude of the professionals. .
“When we talk about XD, we talk about developing a series of activities, such as art, animation, cinematics, audio, engineering, portability, motion capture, quality control, visual effects, UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) , among others. Today, Brazilian studios are fully prepared to meet all these demands with great competence and commitment”.
Brazilian cases of success in the work of XD
Among the various Brazilian studios that participate in person at XDS and other important international events through the Brazil Games entourage, from Abragames, there are different and complementary profiles. While some specialize and are references exclusively in external development work, others also do hybrid work – that is, in addition to XD, they develop their own games.
The PUGA Studios, from Recife, has been working with external development since 2017 and has in its portfolio a partnership with aquiris to the game Looney Tunes World of Mayhem, among other projects. “There are large companies in Brazil that develop top-notch games for the market. Direct work with international publishers and developers attracts foreign eyes to the Brazilian industry, for sure”, said Rodrigo Carneiro, CEO of PUGA Studios.
The executive also says that during the pandemic, national studios saw an increase in demand from foreign developers to carry out XD work, which made many of them grow not only in revenue and quality, but in team size. “We had 30 employees in March 2020, and today we have 140 talented professionals”. Among the differentials for winning new jobs, Carneiro highlights the importance of being at the events. “It's the famous handshake, eye to eye. Feeling the glow at the time of conversation, exchange of experiences, is fundamental to start this relationship”.
Another studio that has been working with external development for a long time is Flux Games, from São Paulo, which has already collaborated, for example, with the Garena in a game spin off Free Fire, and which has noticed major changes in the posture of foreign companies in recent years. “Both people and companies have come to rely more on remote work, and large foreign players have been looking for solid and reliable Brazilian studios to work on part of the development of their games”, says Paulo Luis Santos, founder and head of the São Paulo studio. “Such a movement generates a qualification of our studios, matures the national market and prevents the evasion of talents to other countries”.
The Kokku, another studio in Recife whose operations in the games market go beyond the external development and export of services and arts, started working in the area in 2015 through contacts established with international companies that came to Brazil for the BIG Festival.
The studio has already worked with large companies, such as Activision, in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Guerrilla Games, in Horizon Zero Dawn is at Horizon Forbidden West, and Netflix, in Stranger Things: Starcourt Mall. Thiago Freitas, CEO of Kokku, reinforces that the transfer of acquired knowledge is the main gain for the Brazilian market, in addition to generating income and employment.
“Brazilian professionals continue to be developed to work in major international titles, and this acquired knowledge stays here in Brazil even when the work ends, being reverberated within the company and, later, for the birth of new studios and projects”, explains Freitas.
For the executive, what drives Kokku to work on important games is the capacity and quality of delivery. “Having a good portfolio means having the chance to present yourself, but it does not guarantee that you will be hired for the project. What really matters most is the capacity and quality of delivery. After assembling a portfolio with well-finished projects, especially in AAA games, the doors open wider”.
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, XDS will again take place in person in September 2022, in Vancouver, Canada, and Abragames will be present with several Brazilian studios, through the Brazil Games entourage. The association's expectation is that this year the number of partnerships will increase even more and continue to strengthen the Brazilian game development market.