BIG Festival saw a shift to the virtual realm this year with BIG Digital, an online event that drew a record-setting 22,000 people who tuned in to and experienced 25 seminars on game development from a whopping 72 industry icons such as Epic Games, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, (Xbox), Nintendo, Snapchat, and Ubisoft. The event was a massive success that drew more than 2 million views and generated an estimated $63 million USD in games-related business from the more than 4,000 meetings brought about between 630 game industry professionals from 34 countries.
BIG Festival will return again next year in an all-new hybrid form, combining their traditional physical conference with a fully-fleshed online counterpart. The eighth edition of BIG Festival will take place in São Paulo from May 5 to May 9, 2021, and studios interested in presenting at the event, whether that be a talk or simply showing off some new titles, can register here.
In a business sector that traditionally relies heavily on large, in-person events to generate meetings, business deals and partnerships, and focused publicity from attending journalists and media, the complete shut-down of travel and implementation of quarantine and social distancing policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a screeching halt.
Despite this, Brazil Games studios maintained a strong presence in the resulting digital events that arose from the pandemic:
- In February, 29 Brazil gaming and entertainment companies — led by Brazilian Content — attended KidScreen 2020, an important children’s entertainment industry business networking event.
- Brazilian studios Behold Studios, Rogue Snail, Double Dash Studios, and Ludact, were selected for the Indie Megabooth at PAX East this year. This was the second time a Brazil Games delegation attended the event.
- While Game Connection America 2020 — Digital Edition and GDC 2020 were unfortunately canceled this year, Brazil Games’ studios were still prepared to showcase their fantastic work including 12 that participated in GDC@Play.
- Devcom was another conference that made the move to digital this year, and Brazil Games brought 32 studios to Devcom Digital 2020, presented a panel talk, and participated in the inaugural NRW GREEN Virtual Indie Expo 2020
- Brazil Games’ Eliana Russi recently presented at the Pocket Gamer Connects digital event in Helsinki, where she spoke about the growth of the Brazilian gaming industry and provided some tips and advice on how to successfully launch a title in Brazil
- Brazil Games’ wrapped up the year with a strong presence at the External Development Summit 2020 (XDS20 Adapt) and a first-time appearance at White Nights Fall Online Event, which included a panel talk titled “Doing Game Business in Brazil, Opportunities You Can’t Miss!”
Brazil Games’ vast and ever-expanding stable of independent gaming studios produced some fantastic titles this year, taking the medium to new places and re-defining the idea of what interactive, audio-visual entertainment can accomplish. Studios like FinalBoss are mastering tools such as UnrealEngine to create stunning adventure games like The Path of Calydra, while development houses like VR Monkey and Medroom are taking virtual education to the next level with immersive experiences that take history students back in time or medical students deep into a virtual human body. Brazil Games’ studios are also working global brand giants like Google, Facebook, Disney, McDonalds, Nike, Honda, and Nestle, as well as legendary gaming studios including Ubisoft, Guerrilla Games, Epic, and many more.
- Webcore Games released the adorable and educational Timo the Game, which won Spcine contest K.O. HQ 2017.
- PushStart announced their latest game, WOW ANIMALS - Hide N’ Seek, which takes players on a colorful adventure while teaching them about plant and animal biology. The title is part of a multi-media crossover that also includes the WOW Animals animation series.
- Hermit Crab Game Studio merged real-world sports with the virtual while working with professional football clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal FC. PSG Football Freestyle won Best Game 'Big Brands' BIG Festival 2018 and was a finalist for Indie Prize London 2019.
- Rockhead Games released their family-friendly vertical side-scroller Startlit Adventures on the Xbox One and a unique edition, Starlit Adventures: Golden Stars, on the Nintendo Switch.
- Rogue Snail announced their hit F2P top-down shooter, Relic Hunters Zero, will be getting a follow-up in Relic Hunters Legend, coming to Steam Early Access.
- ARVORE combined modern technology with retro-nostalgia in Pixel Ripped 1995 — the sequel to their award winning Pixel Ripped 1989 — which garnered rave reviews on PC for Vive and Oculus as well as PSVR.
- Rock Games brought their unique “seasonal” card-battler Manarocks out of early Access and enjoyed a successful Steam launch earlier this year
- Double Dash released their co-op “brick breakin’ meets SHMUP” mashup Sky Racket on PC and the Nintendo Switch.
- Kokku, the Brazilian studio credited with work on the massively successful Horizon: Zero Dawn, continued to expand their reach into new markets and remains the only Brazilian co-development studio that works on AAA titles.
Despite setbacks, a global pandemic, and moratorium on large, in-person events, Brazil Games managed to not only survive, but thrive. Record-setting attendance for BIG Festival, multiple award-winning studios releasing games, breaking into new markets like Russia, and the continued growth of a rapidly-expanding Indie scene are just a few of the accomplishments achieved in the face of adversity. As Brazil continues to climb the ranks of the international development scene, the sky's the limit and the rest of the world is beginning to take notice. Here’s to a wildly successful 2020 and — hopefully — bigger, bolder things in store for 2021.