BRAZIL | THE DIGITAL START-UP THAT WANTS TO TURN THE WORLD INTO A BOARD GAME

It will soon be possible to play one of Brazil’s most iconic and popular board games, Banco Imobiliario (Brazilian Monopoly), by walking along Avenida Pacaembu, in São Paulo, or by the Botafogo neighborhood, in Rio. In partnership with toy maker Estrela, this December, Argentine video game developer, Widow Games, will launch a digitalised version of Banco Imobiliario under the name Banco Imobiliario Geolocalizado (B.I.G.) for Android and iOS devices. The smartphone app will be free to download and aims to turn the real world into a kind of giant board game.

The mobile game will combine the rules of the classic board game with elements of augmented reality and geolocation, and through collaboration with the Foursquare database, the virtual establishments will appear in the same place as the real ones. Guided by a digital map, the player will be able to identify the properties that can be bought and/or traded with.

"The best way to describe it is like Pokémon Go but with the mechanics of Banco Imobiliario," said Martin Spinetto, founder and CEO of Widow Games, in an interview with Exame. The game encourages users to travel between the real and virtual worlds, providing users with the chance to explore real locations and engage Wirth other users in real-life. As a multiplayer game, users will be able to buy, sell, offer and counter-offer with other players. Furthermore, players will also be able to interact with properties on the other side of the world if travelling there and will be able to continue interacting with such properties upon their return to Brazil. "It's a global and very social game", claims Spinetto.

Whilst it will be free to download, the game will follow the "freemium" model used by many other titles meaning it will be possible to acquire credits in the game to, for example, accelerate the application of some improvement in its property. And that, according to the executive, is just one of the possibilities for monetization. The idea of Widow Games is to partner with companies that want to put their brands inside the virtual board. A first has already been made, with Banco Santander, who will offer digital "credit", valid only for the game, to players who watch a video of financial education. "However, we are also open to new advertisers and companies that have other ideas of how to make the most of the game," said Widow Game's CEO.

Founded in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Widow Games arrived in Brazil in 2016, with support from Microsoft and Telefónica, and has worked on other games in partnership with Estrela, such as Jogo da Vida and Genius. Banco Imobiliário Geo already appears on the developer's page in the Google Play store, but the game is still in beta. The final version will come out in the middle of December.