Gamescom LATAM is the panacea Brazil's games industry needs

Industry analysts globally are nervous, but Gamescom LATAM is nothing but optimism.
Gamescom LATAM showfloor.
Gamescom LATAM showfloor. / Gamescom

In 2015 Nintendo officially pulled out of the Brazillian market, with Nintendo’s director and general manager for Latin America, Bill van Zyll, saying “Brazil is an important market for Nintendo and home to many passionate fans, but unfortunately, challenges in the local business environment have made our current distribution model in the country unsustainable” according to UOL.

Van Zyll wasn’t exaggerating either. A short 2018 investigation into video game hardware pricing in Brazil had Jeremy Pang of the Illinois Economics Department conclude that a PS4 was three times more expensive to purchase in Brazil than North America, and 63% of the cost could be attributed to taxation. On top of a 20% import tax and a 33.54% VAT, luxury goods were also slapped with a 50% Industrialized Product Tax. Another 8% of the console’s value is added to the price from smaller taxes.

That’s why Gamescom LATAM in Sao Paulo marks such a monumental shift for the region. In June of 2022, video game hardware imports had their taxes cut, and not for the first time. In response to the pandemic, import taxes for video game hardware without a screen was cut down to 12% – hardware with a screen, meanwhile, had import tax cut to zero (thanks, Istoe Dinheiro). That’s why it’s not a surprise to see a giant Nintendo booth at the center of Gamescom LATAM’s expo hall, and legions of fans all eager to go hands-on with both brand new games and established classics that might’ve been out of the hands of Brazillian gamers until recently.

It’s been a long road, but Brazil is swinging into the modern games industry with incredible momentum. Gamescom LATAM opened its doors to the public, and Brazillian game fans were ecstatic to play popular and upcoming games – Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree expansion may have been available to buy, but that wasn’t stopping some players from trying the game for the first time. The presence of talented cosplayers shouldn’t come as a surprise in the home of the Carnaval do Brasil, either.

While Gamescom LATAM’s big brother in Cologne is a more international event, LATAM feels like a celebration for the local industry. It’s for Brazillian developers and businesses that wish to make themselves known to national and international partners, planning to make the blockbuster games of tomorrow, and the first big-budget success to come from Brazil. Wikipedia’s list of video games developed in Brazil isn’t much to look at right now, but check back in five years after a generation of game devs confined to their bedrooms have been let into the wild and given a budget. 

Nintendo has made a return to Brazil.
Nintendo has made a return to Brazil. / Gamescom

The fact is that Brazil’s gaming industry from the top down has been stifled with taxes and legal complications, but with a relatively low cost of living and a huge prospective workforce, the Brazillian gaming boom seems inevitable. Gamescom LATAM is just one sign of how quickly things are changing for the region, from Nintendo’s attendance to the scores of developers and publishers sitting down for discussions in the closed-off B2B section. 

When on the ground, Gamescom LATAM is like any other gaming expo. There are celebrations of games and products, but also gaming culture as artists, cosplayers, and fans gather to share their favorite hobby. These are the same fans wearing the same cosplays that you’ll see at any PAX or Comic Con, except there’s no sense of cynicism. It’s hard to be cynical about video games when many of the people here are getting access to the cutting-edge of a beloved art form for perhaps the first time. It’s young, fresh, and like when you take a youngster to see a superhero movie, it’s really hard to remain negative.

While the rest of the world’s gaming industry is fearing an incoming market crash, the mood at Gamescom LATAM is the complete opposite, and the Latin American region could follow China as one of the next big gaming hubs of the world.

While at Gamescom LATAM we spoke to a number of industry professionals, including Skybound's CEO, where we were teased that a new triple-A Invincible game is coming.

Dave Aubrey


GLHF Deputy Editor. Nintendo fan. Rapper. Pretty good at video games.