Rio Grande do Sul Studio Aquiris Reaches New Horizon After Fortnite Owner Contributes

Inspired by the classic “Top Gear”, Horizon Chase has put Aquiris on the map of global video games.

By the end of its fifteen years of existence, Gaucho Studio Aquiris is already accustomed to big things. The producer of Porto Alegre was the first national company to have the game as the choice of global editors in the Apple App Store and released the title in physical format (or disc, box) for the PlayStation 4. For a country pioneer. Have production on Apple Arcade, the iPhone owner’s gaming service. A month ago the company added a new achievement: now it has an investor in Epic Games, one of the most topical gaming companies today – among its creations are the sensations Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys.

The $ 32 billion Epic is a whirlwind company: it owns a computer game store, an indie game publishing platform, and owns the music site Bandcamp and the Unreal Engine, a kind of “function library” for game developers. In recent years, Epic has taken on immense importance, releasing subtitles that set the tone for the market, or choosing to quarrel over monopolies and pay rates with giants like Apple. Now it will be with the American company Aquiris. “It’s an ideal storm to have a partner with so many opportunities,” he says. Estadao Co-founder Israel Mendes.

The terms of the deal were not made public, but the report found that Epic had made a secondary investment in Aquiris, buying shares in Angel Investors, as well as the Companhia Riograndense de Participações (CRP). Overall, the deal would give the American a seat on board and control of about 25% of Rio Grande do Sul Studios, which would retain its creative autonomy.

Mendes said the agreement between the two companies also provides for an agreement to release several games in the coming years – the first partnership should be revealed in the coming months. “All you can say is that it will be a game with an arcade feel, more fun and for different ages. “These are the characteristics that are in our DNA,” he said.

From advertising to consoles

Founded in 2007 by high school friends Amilton Diesel and Maurizio Longon, along with partner Israel Mendes, Aquiris did not exactly start creating games. His first activity was to create 3D designs for architecture and virtual reality – at a time when today’s glasses looked like alien artifacts.

“Our background was different from most of the studios, which are born from the dreams of creating a game. “We were born with the awareness that we wanted to have a sustainable company,” Mendes said. The executive’s previous connection to the advertising world, Aquiris gradually realized that it could provide services to agencies and advertisers by creating online games. In a style of rapid production, the company was able to create parts in about two months that could be played on any web browser.

“It was a very intense pace for us, but it was an incredible experience: we were paid to learn to play all kinds of games, which made us a versatile studio,” Mendes recalled. One of these games marked an era: t Super Volleyball BrazilFormulated by a seven-man team for the Olympics in 2008, it was the scene of the debut of the team uniforms led by Bernardino – and even sold to street vendors in piracy. “It was a different context: there was no such wide range of free games at the time that the iPhone began to change,” he said.

Gradually, the company’s products became more sophisticated, with the exception of shooting, opening the door to partnerships with companies such as Globo and Cartoon Network. Ballistic. But Akviris lacked a game with his own faces. To support this effort, the company traded part of its stake in 2014 with CRP. The proceeds helped the team create Horizon Chase, a racing game that honors titles in the 1980s and 1990s genres such as e.g. High speedOutrun and Super Monaco GP 2 – all, membership card instructions.

Mendes founded Aquiris in 2007 with school friends

Mendes founded Aquiris in 2007 with school friends

It was a great effort: on the one hand, the technical team in Porto Alegre, with 70 men at the time, struggled to create a game that was, at the same time, a tribute to the past, without the smell of rubble. On the other hand, Aquiris’s business director Sandro Manfredini traveled to world fairs, showed the Brazilian studio a business card and tried to prove that it was also possible to play excellent games south of the equator.

It worked: Upon launch, in August 2015, Horizon appeared in the Apple App Store, which helped pay for the game in less than 10 days. Originally only for mobile, Horizon Chase has finally appeared on consoles – today it is available for PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch. Seven years after its release in stores, the game is renewed, which is rare: in 2021, for example, it gained an expansion inspired by Ayrton Senna’s career.

“Full of local information, Horizon Chase is a special game: it shows that Brazil can produce games at a world-class level, but at the same time with its own focus,” said Andre Pass, a professor of digital communications at PUC. -რს ..

Impact on the sector

In the midst of a pandemic, however, it emerged: After years of partnering, Aquiris needed to find a buyer for the shares of its investors who were looking for a return on investment. THE Epic, With whom the company has had a close relationship for years, was one of the best options on the list, but it seemed like a distant dream. However, the love affair ended and the two companies reached a newly announced deal.

“We have known Akviris for a long time and we have always had a good relationship. We are very impressed with what they have already done, ”said Hector Sanchez, Head of Epic’s Partnership Publishing. “Latin America is an important part of the global gaming economy, and this partnership with Aquiris is a way to strengthen our strategy in Brazil,” said the executive, who said there was “infinite” potential for Aquiris to be integrated into the company’s products.

According to Andre Pass, from PUC-RS, Aquiris’s expertise could also serve other studios in the Epic network. “If a company manages to thrive and blow a bubble in a difficult market like Brazil, it can bring a lot of knowledge on how to win in difficult scenarios,” says the expert.

As for Fernando Chamis, co-founder of the Scoreo Paulo Studio Webcore and former president of the Brazilian Association of Video Game Developers (Hugs), The movement sheds light on the local market. “For the industry, this movement of foreign investors will be more and more repetitive,” said one who believes the local market lacks knowledge. “Investment funds should look at this market here, because there are many opportunities. “CRP departure shows that it is possible to return, even in the face of the risks that games offer.”

For Manfredin, the expectation is that the partnership will help other investors lose “the fear of taking risks in less traditional gaming countries such as Brazil.” As for Aquiris, he expects the partnership to further expand the company’s horizons.

At the same time, he acknowledges the achievements of his company, which currently has 180 employees. “The current configuration is already a dream, to have a company that does what it wants to do, with the support of a strategic investor, and to take our games everywhere,” said the 46-year-old executive.

But it is Mendes, 44, and more recently his father, who best defines the spirit of the moment: Epic’s investment is not the finish line, but another stage in his race. “We are a marathon company and our consistency has helped us get here. “It’s a word we define well and nothing changes our view of the market,” he said. “Our goal is to see our children and grandchildren playing with Aquiris.”

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