Game on

Latin America’s gaming industry continues to grow, even after a pandemic related boom.

Gaming is big business worldwide and Latin America is no exception. Following a pandemic-related boom the industry’s underlying growth remains strong in Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Argentina, according to a YouTube Culture and Trends study.

Governments across Latin America are starting to recognise the importance of the sector as Latin America cements its position as the world’s fastest growing region, expected to reach a USD 6.29 billion revenue by 2023. The cross-cutting generational appeal of videogames is exemplified by the diverse nature of gamers with, for instance, 71% of Mexican gamers interviewed by YouTube Culture and Trends who said that videogames outperform other sources to relax and de-stress. The same study shows that Generation Z prefer gaming over social networks and streaming platforms.

“The problem with these statistics,” said a US based gaming industry analyst, “is that there is no agency in many Latin America countries that specialises in doing gaming industry statistics and analysis. For the US market, for example, there are several, such as NPD Group or WePC but their coverage of Latin America is not so good. To get accurate data, you would need to directly contact the LatAm divisions of Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Apple, Google and Steam, to ask them for figures, but they are very secretive with that information.”

A report by Cisneros Interactive, a US-based Latino digital company, showed that, during isolation, gaming habits increased as shown by 70% of over-35 Argentineans gamers who said that they spent more time playing during isolation periods. Despite this, the industry has remained resilient, even as the pandemic subsides, three in five players in Latin America claimed that they had continued playing with the same frequency, even after the pandemic.

“Videogaming has become a social activity over recent years. there are entire communities being built on platforms like Twitch where people from all over the world can watch ‘Streamers’ playing games.”

Videogame journalist, Mexico

A Mexican videogame journalist explained one of the main drivers of this growth, “Videogaming has become a social activity over recent years. It started with online and in-person competitions but now there are entire communities being built on platforms like Twitch where people from all over the world can watch ‘Streamers’ playing games. These Streamers are like celebrities, people wait for them to start playing, they engage and comment when they are watching and they stick around after the Streamer has stopped to discuss what they’ve watched.”

“Ten years ago the most popular games were the Triple A blockbusters [but] the growth of AA games will drive the industry forward for the next few years.”

Veteran videogamer, Mexico

The form of the most popular games has also changed, explained a veteran gamer in Mexico, “Ten years ago the most popular games were the Triple A blockbusters with the best storyline and graphics that took years to develop and required the gaming companies to invest millions upfront but as a gamer you needed the expensive PC equipment or the latest console to play them. Then mobile gaming started to take off and while the games were free they pushed gamers towards In-App purchases. And then there is Fortnite and double AA games where the quality is superior than mobile games and they are still free to play but they keep gamers hooked to stay in the game to gain new skills, weapons, uniforms or simply buy them and it has become a deeply lucrative business. The growth of AA games will drive the industry forward for the next few years.”

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