This week saw PC gaming's dominant Steam store add the Brazilian Real to its list of accepted currencies, offering downloadable games at highly competitive prices as a result. Relaxnews spoke to Brazilian game developers to find out how the move was received.
"This is great news for the Brazilian consumer," said Vitor Leães of Swordtales, whose game Toren was made an honorable mention at the international Independent Games Festival in March.
"The Brazilian retail market has excessively high prices because of the high tax burden in Brazil that has a domino effect, making all logistics costs and game distribution expensive," he explained.
Where retail games in Brazil usually end up two to three times more expensive than their North American counterparts, much of Steam's catalogue is adhering to US Dollar exchange rates. That's a significant saving.
"It surely is a great deal for the gamers," said Lucas Jock, whose Taw Studio recently won awards for web games Mr. Bree and Jelly Escape. "We have an easier way of buying coupled with the sort of fair prices that we are not used to seeing here."
"Most of us had very few options when buying games, and most of them were filled with taxes and more taxes. Steam prices are VERY competitive. Lots of players here were already using Steam in US dollars before, but now it will get to a lot more of them," he observed.
Just as October 2011 saw Steam partner with a kiosk payment network in Russia, it has now extended its support to the Boleto billing slip system that is peculiar to Brazil.
"Brazilians are used to paying for goods in ways that are not very common elsewhere, such as with the Boleto," explained Thais Weiller of Sao Paolo studio JoyMasher, whose game Oniken is currently awaiting Steam store approval.
"Buying directly in our currency is making games cheaper since everyone who used international credit cards, the only way of purchasing on Steam before now, had to pay an extra governmental tax."
"There's no doubt that this will make Steam even more popular among Brazilian gamers, and I wouldn't be surprised if Steam players from our country doubled or tripled in the coming months," she said.
Swordtales' Leães identified two possible knock-on effects. "Some of the prices in Brazilian Reais are even cheaper than in the US store. This may even decrease piracy, another big problem here," he said, something which is already less of a problem thanks to the introduction of digital distribution, adds Amora from Studio MiniBoss (Out There Somewhere).
"The downside to this is a possible monopoly by Steam," continues Leães. Other online specialists such as Nuuvem and SteamBR have already set up shop, but Steam's lower pricing will be "a big challenge for Brazilian online stores."
For the developers themselves, there's the hope that Steam's Brazilian presence will increase their reach, not only internationally but also among their fellow Brasileiros.
"With official representation in Brazil, Steam might eventually offer some sort of support for independent developers who want to participate in Greenlight," said Leães, referring to the community voting mechanism that promotes most wanted games. "There are great Brazilian games on Greenlight, such as Out There Somewhere, Qasir Al-Wasat and Oniken. It would be great to see a more accessible Steam deliver these to the Brazilian public."