Sony announced yesterday that the PlayStation 3 console is now being manufactured in Brazil, a move that it hopes will help boost the Brazilian video game industry, Polygon reports. The console maker also promised that special versions of Grand Theft Auto V and The Last of Us will be localized specifically for the region. That will make GTA V the first game in the series to be fully localized in Brazilian Portugese.
“Sony Computer Entertainment continues to invest in the Brazil game market as part of our long-term commitment to the country and its gamers,” Sony Computer Entertainment President and Group CEO Andrew House said at an event in Sao Paulo. “Locally manufacturing PlayStation 3 in Brazil will benefit gamers, retailers and developers. The local manufacture of PlayStation 3 is expected to infuse the Brazilian economy with approximately $300 million over the next 12 months.”
Sony only recently began manufacturing the PS2 in Brazil in 2009. With the coming of the PS4, the PS2’s global production is at an end though, giving way to the PS3.
PS3 consoles manufactured in Brazil with 250GB hard drive will retail for $1,099 Reais (around $550 USD) and come bundled with God of War: Ascension when they’re released later this year. By comparison, the blood-red PS3 hardware bundle that comes with God of War: Ascension, the God of War Saga collection, 30 days of PlayStation Plus, and a 500GB hard drive retails for just $300 in the U.S. Not surprisingly, commenters on Sony’s Brazilian PlayStation Blog have complained about the alleged high price for the locally manufactured console, as well as the country’s current lack of PlayStation Plus.
But Brazilian gamers currently must choose between paying through the nose for officially imported systems that are subject to tariffs (Sony stores currently sell PS3s in Brazil for the equivalent of US$1,000) or importing the consoles themselves. No doubt manufacturing the PS3 in Brazil and selling it directly will prove easier in the long run, but consoles have traditionally not found much success there.
Part of that is due to the geography of the country. Cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are major metropolises, but outside of the cities, much of the country can be difficult to reach. That’s part of the reason online gaming on computers has soared – another reason is the heavy taxation on gaming. Brazil currently classifies video games the same way that it classifies online gambling, and both are taxed 120-percent. This makes retail games more than double what gamers in other countries pay, and also explains why free-to-play games have exploded in Brazil. As well as piracy. A plan to change this law has been under evaluation since 2006.
Even with those stifling constraints, Brazil accounts for the largest gaming market in South America, the second largest in Latin America behind Mexico, and ranks 15th in the world.