Stagnant in Congress since before the start of the pandemic, eSports regulation is progressing in some states and generating unrest in the gaming community. The fear is that the approval of the rules – which is happening only in the legislative houses – without counting discussions involving players and developers – will end up making it impossible to hold tournaments in Brazil.
As the State, Amapá, Bahia, Ceará, Paraíba and Paraná have already sanctioned their rules, while the Federal District, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro have projects in progress.
The Senate regulation text, proposed by senator Roberto Rocha (PSDB-MA), ran into resistance from the eSports community. Several public meetings were promoted at the request of senator Leila Barros (Cidadania-DF). The hearings were suspended due to the pandemic, which is hampering the project’s progress.
Main complaint from the eSports community
Despite some distinctions in the proposals, in common is the objective of equating eSports with traditional sports. While this may open up new possibilities for awarding scholarships to athletes and provide opportunities for confederations to seek public funding, the laws have the potential to force any tournament to require the approval of a recognized entity. And this is where one of the main complaints from gamers lies.
“Electronic games, e-sports, only exist because there are games. And games only exist because there are companies, the so-called ‘publishers’, that produce the games. They hold all the rights over the games, whether broadcast or of the game itself,” says Nicolle Merhy, CEO of Black Dragons, in an interview with Estadão.
Merhy added: “With that in mind, there is no way to regulate the way it is being asked for. They (parliamentary) are ignoring a fact that should not be ignored: e-sport is not similar to football, basketball or anything else It is a case apart, because there is a third person in this link, who owns the game.”
Author of the book ‘Introduction to the Study of Esports Law’, lawyer Antonio Carlos Bratefixe Junior highlighted this issue. “Unlike traditional sports, confederations would need to integrate other parties, such as game developers,” he points out. “I don’t see the need for a regulation, because there are many doubts whether electronic sport is considered a sport. What can be done is adaptations (to the laws that already exist).”
Brazilian electronic sports market numbers
According to the Games Brazil Survey (PGB), 72% of Brazilians play some form of eSports. With the increase of games and cell phones, the practice proved to be very democratic, with about 49% of adherents belonging to classes C and E. And women appear as the majority, totaling 51.5%.
Co-founder of BBL Esports, an entertainment industry group that brings together various elements of the gaming world, Leo De Biase is a strong critic of the industry regulation projects that are spreading through the legislative houses. He declared that the expressive numbers of the market demonstrate its strength and the intention to regulate without consulting its community can generate serious problems.
“The risk is that these states have problems regarding the encouragement of electronic sports or the gamer population that live in them. It is noteworthy that regulation or excessive laws can make the market, their costs and their distribution very expensive, affecting directly in the pockets of consumers, in addition to compromising the proper functioning of the segment that is seen today”, highlighted De Biase.
In addition, he signed the ‘Open Letter of the Brazilian Electronic Sports Ecosystem’, released in July with representatives of more than 11 associations in the area. The text stressed that “existing confederations and federations in Brazil that claim to be representatives of Brazilian electronic sports do not represent us”.
For Bratefixe Junior, the role of the eSports confederations should be different: “I don’t see the need for specific regulations, because there is no doubt that electronic sport is considered a sport. What can be done are adaptations (to the laws that already exist and are applied in the scenario)”.