I know most gamers in the US probably don’t care about this story but I have some pretty strong ties to Brazil – I’ve lived there, I speak Portuguese, I’m married to a Brazilian, etc. I’m familiar with the culture and the business environment(to a degree) so this story caught my eye. to catch you up really quick:
My Nintendo News: Nintendo Officially Leaves The Brazilian Gaming Market
I commented on that thread but since I have this blog, let me expound on that a little bit. I see there are various Brazilians in the thread complaining about it or blaming Nintendo but their blame is misdirected. They do love their video games as much as people in any other country but since few games originate from Brazil, its not in the news a whole lot. some have attempted to break into the market there, such as Zeebo, but finding a game console maker usually ends up getting into weird retro consoles which I will get into in a moment.
The primary source of their blame should be the politicians they vote into office, who in turn put in bureaucrats, laws and regulations that make doing business in Brazil for a foreign entity much more challenging than it should be. This boils down to a protectionist mentality, where the political speeches are all about ‘the Brazilian worker’ (our equivalent of “the little man”) but it really just harms them and their economic choices/freedom. One of my jobs involves sales of amusement and vending equipment, last year I had a guy in Brazil trying to import some US made vending machines but the deal fell apart thanks to the hoops that have to be jumped through. They had to import some machines and have them approved by some paper-pusher somewhere to get various licenses, all of which was not free of course and very time consuming. On a tangent to that thought, there are no shotgun weddings there either – marriage licenses can take up to a month to get, at least where foreigners are involved. So the same mentality crosses over.
Anyways, the deal could have made that Brazilian customer find himself in some better economic circumstances in running a vending business but because the company products he was trying to purchase wasn’t Brazilian, he was unable to enjoy that. I’m sure he could build his own, but it would cost a heck of a lot less to buy a proven pre-fab product than to go to the from scratch route. Imagine if you had to make your own game console hardware and software to be able to enjoy something – yeah, not that easy.
The vending company is still trying to get into the market but they are still finding it very difficult to get through the process. Just because you make it to market doesn’t mean the pressures won’t suddenly ease up. Unless something changes politically/lawfully it is going to stay that way. Brazilians almost did change things up in their last presidential election and I read that the guy who lost (Aecio Neves, who to be fair, was not well-liked by most Brazilians but he ended being up 1 of 2 choices in the final vote) was trying to make the point that doing business in Brasil was too difficult but at the end of the day the people decided to keep doing what they had been doing. It was a pretty close election, so plenty of people were fed up with the status quo. They just were outvoted by those fine with it or too scared for a change.
So back to the main point, now Brazilians can no longer enjoy new official Nintendo stuff. Granted, official consoles are very pricey. The 32GB WiiU listed there is presently the equivalent of about $480USD and I imagine that price will go up soon. As such, you have to rely on very weird bootleg consoles to get your fix in many cases. Just a note, the strangest video game consoles I ever came across were these bootlegs in Brazil. I can’t find much on the ones I came across now but here is a current one for sale called the Retron 5 for R$799(that is approx. $300). It plays “NES, FAMICOM, SNES, SUPER FAMICOM, GENESIS, MEGA DRIVE, GAMEBOY, GAMEBOY COLOR & GAMEBOY ADVANCE” and it has 5 cartridge ports. I once came across one that was a plug-n-play to your TV that was housed in an N64-look-a-like controller but it was all NES stuff that was badly emulated.
One effect of this can be beneficial to those with the money already – when I lived there I would occasionally come across a “fliperama” (Portuguese for “arcade”) that was just a small room with a bunch of some last gen game consoles for kids to play. Around 2002 I remember coming across those where they were usually stocked with PlayStation 1’s and an N64 or two. Coming across a current gen console was fairly rare in these locations, even rarer in homes.
So if you are in Brazil and you already have connections and capital, I imagine they will have no problem in setting up places like this to offer something to kids that can scrape some change together. But it is less than ideal if you like economic freedom. The economic circumstances for Brazilians is a little better now than it was in 2002 but it could be a heck of a lot better if the protectionist mentality was dumped, which also likes to blame foreign entities on their greed and trade agreements, while trying to cover their own corruption. Newsflash: greed exists in every country and under every single type of governance or political system. The more oppressive and restrictive the system, the more efficiently the greed is hushed up and channeled through very exact portions of the powerful. That doesn’t help Mr. Worker at all, but it does a great job of making sure his life stays away from any sort of decent quality.