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The Brazilian Grey Market of Games


We have a particular kind of market here, maybe not unique to Brazil, when we talk about games. We call it the Grey Market. The Grey Market is an interesting case, and it is a constant to most Brazilian gamers wanting to buy games with better pricing than white market, but don't want to go the way of the pirates.

See, we pay a lot of taxes over games here, so, original games bought in the white market can cost up to US$100(200 BRL) for console games. It is quite a lot of money for games. You can go to Black Markets and buy bootleg copies for 5-10 bucks(10-20 BRL) but you have no guarantees and those bootleg copies can and likely will damage the expensive console you have. And of course, the guys that made the game will not see a dime of this money.

Enter the Grey Market.

Grey Market stores usually sell original copies of games, usually 15-20% cheaper than White Market stories. And different from the Black Market, they give you a receipt, meaning any problem with the game they will replace it. And those are original copies, meaning the developers receive money for them. For all intents and purposes, the buyer is acquiring a legitimate product and following the law.

The store? Well, not quite. The store is not an illegal store. They have all the permissions needed to operate, pay taxes and sell legitimate, legal products. It is how they acquire the products that aren't so much legit. What they usually do is buying legitimate copies of games overseas, in markets where the taxes aren't as absurd as Brazilian taxes. Usually, a 100% legitimate business would need to declare the products entering in the country to the Federal government and pay any applicable taxes. Except they don't do it.

Those stores smug the products in the country, and usually only declare a small percentage of them, normally the number of games that will be exposed in the store. The rest is stored in another location. If the police or any governmental agent goes to the store, all the products in exhibition have a legal receipt confirming its legal status and that all taxes where paid. Meanwhile, the rest of the stock, that is in a 'secret' location, is safe from any form of penalty.

When a displayed game is sold, they just go to the secret stock and replace the sold game and use the same receipt used before to present to anyone questioning the legality of the product. To the buyer, all seems legit, and he is acquiring a legal product in a legal way. To the developers and publishers, those games were legally sold in their country of origin and they receive their share. The ones getting screwed is the local publishers, selling a more expensive game and the government, that don't receive their taxes.

Of course, if the government wasn't so greed as it is here in Brazil, the White Market would have a more fair chance against the Grey Market. But it isn't the case. Us, Brazilian gamers wanting to not resort to piracy to acquire their games, will gladly use a Grey Market store, even knowing that those games aren't as 'clean' as it seems, to save some money.

So, that is how many Brazilian gamers buy original games here. I know it is not the ideal situation, but as I said, from the buyer's part, we aren't doing nothing illegal, even knowing those games aren't exactly 'legal' and you can't blame someone doing everything under the law to save money. Maybe when our government stop being greed, we will see some change.
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About ManWithNoNameone of us since 10:30 AM on 03.24.2011

Ok, let's see... Well, I am Brazilian, speak both portuguese and english(none of them properly ;) ), have 32 (Yes I am old, shut up) and work at a cable manufacturer. My first videogame system was an Atari 2600 when I was 8yo, then the Sega Master System at 11, a PC, then all the Playstation Family(PS1, 2 and 3 and the PSP).

Nowadays my primary gaming platform is the PS3 and my favorite game is Battlefield Bad Company 2, so if will wanna play or get some help with a trophie, my PSN ID is Man_w_no_name. Feel free to ask me to add you as a friend. My favorite game of all time is Final Fantasy VII and the worst I have ever saw is Danger Girl for PS1.

Aside gaming I love movies, books, anime and manga, Doctor Who and weirdness. So that is it. Hope to find good friends here at Destructoid.

Thanks to falsenipple for the header image! It is awesome as the creator.

PSN ID:Man_w_no_name


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