Summertime, the world’s most popular travel season took WVRF’s CEO, Salar Shahna across the Atlantic Ocean to BIG Festival (Brazil’s Independent Games Festival), the most important international indie games festival in Latin America and a business hub for both local and international game developers organized by the Ministry of Culture of Brazil, the Municipal Secretariat of Culture of São Paulo and Spcine, in São Paulo, Brazil, 24 June – 21 July, 2017.
In it’s 5th edition, the BIG Festival brought together game industry’s professionals and the general audience for a games showcase; the BIG Business Forum, an international congress with one-on-one matchmaking system and meeting space which had a total of 240 speakers and 1,681 meetings so far; the BIG Playable City for urban areas; the BIG Impact, initiative for games transforming the society with positive impact; and the BIG Starter, a pitch session where game developers can present their projects in development to an audition panel and audience composed of game developers, potential investors, game designers and journalists. This year BIG received 768 submissions and showcased 45 finalists at its venue. Ghost Town Games‘ Overcooked and the Brazilian Distortions by Among Giants won multiple awards.
Shahna was part of the Swiss delegation for the gaming tour in Brazil which Switzerland had organized through Swissnex, essentially bringing together game developers. They organized some visits within Swissnex and São Paulo, inviting some key players from the VR gaming industry to present the landscape of Brazil for games. In Brazil, there is a very high interest for gaming and a large community of game developers with projects of high visual quality as they have a very good sense of aesthetics.
Mobile gaming is very important in Brazil. The vast majority of people have android phones, iPhone has a very small penetration in Brazil, so most of the market is oriented toward android phones for mobile games.
“This was demonstrated to the Swiss delegation and also we were invited to pitch programmes for our companies at the pitch night thanks to Swissnex and to present our works at the Google Centre of São Paulo to a diverse audience and some excellent Brazilian investors,” said Shahna.
Shahna was invited to speak at the BIG Festival, both to make a one hour presentation on WVRF’s activities and to join a panel on Virtual Reality with very important speakers, such as Joel Breton from HTC VIVE Studios. During his panel, Shahna exposed “what are the main challenges for VR today and where does Brazil fit into that landscape?”
“The potential of VR games is very good. Brazil can be a great partner for the West as their currency (reals) is very low, so, it’s very affordable for foreign studios who pay in euros, dollars and francs. In terms of hardware, I think that Brazil has a good shot on creating VR goggles for mobile on their own because the tax of importation is very high in Brazil, so it’s harder to access VR headsets from Brazilians as they become very expensive. Therefore it could be interesting for them to produce their own headsets as well,” according to Shahna.
During the panel, Shahna and other panelists discussed the VR content and exchanged viewpoints, as it was a Round Table. Then, there was a business area at the Festival, which was excellent as they had a system where you could meet people online to book meetings and then you had 20-minute meetings that you could do one after the other cause you had the whole area with tables.
Shahna participated in numerous meetings with VR producers and is looking forward to developing stronger relations with Brazil. Notably, Shahna was thrilled about the cow milking simulator game that WVRF will distribute. The festival which was attended by many digital tech giants such as Google and Epic Games was very international with large amount of Brazilians, some Americans, French, and Chinese as well and was excellent in terms of hospitality.