Sabrina Carmona is a Live Game Manager and Associate Project Manager for Square Enix Latin America, having worked as a Game Producer for many years. Sabrina also co-founded the Brazilian studio MangoLab and was the Executive Coordinator for the CS:Games academic research group in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She provides a view of the Latin American industry in this article.
The Latin American game industry is still considered a myth among many people outside the area. This article will focus on showing how the area is expanding and enhancing a bit on what the market consumes, and what the developers are looking for.
The Latin America Mobile Market
When talking about Latin America, we certainly think about Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. However, those are not the only ones to be considered, since expansion and technology is reaching out for countries like Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela. However, I will share some data collected from Our Mobile Planet, on the three major markets in Latin America, just so we can have a starting point in what to look at, and what to expect, from the area.
First and foremost: do they actually have a smartphone? Yes. Lots. The data regarding smartphone population in comparison to the total population goes as follows:
Now, these percentages might look low, but when we take a look on how many people we actually have there, it gets really interesting. Argentina has a total population of 41.66 million people, which leaves us with a surprising number of approximately 1.35 million smartphones. The total population of Brazil is 199.32 million people, having an impressive number of approximately 7.66 million smartphones! As for Mexico, there is a total population of 117.41 million people, which amounts to approximately 3.71 million smartphones.
So is there a consuming market in Latin America? I do believe so! Many of the smartphone owners are really engaged in their gadgets, and according to more data gathered, they use their phones mostly for social networks, emails, games, and apps in general, as you can see below:
And not only are they engaged with what the smartphone has to offer, they also state that basically, they can’t live without it anymore! They say that they won’t leave their homes without it, and some of them would even give up their TV for their smartphones.
So now that we know that there is a market, we should jump to our next question: is there an industry?
The Latin America Game Industry
It is really hard to talk about all the studios and projects in the Latin American industry and everything that happens, since they are growing up so rapidly and effectively. It is very complicated to find accurate numbers on how many companies we have in Latin America, or how many games were developed in 2013, for instance, but a general view on the studios is as follows:
- Due to having more experienced people in the industry, a lot of good professors and tutors are starting to teach in the many undergraduate, graduate, and free courses in the area. Because of that, better-qualified professionals are entering the industry and showing their talent with the companies they are working for.
- The indie game scene is huge! There are a lot of talented people that are developing amazing games and being able to develop top quality projects with impressive art, creative mechanics, and much more. If you have no idea of what they are doing, you must definitely play Oniken, Toren, and Out There Somewhere. They ought to impress you!
- Game events are becoming more popular through the years! Not only are more Latin companies attending international events, but also the audience in the internal events is growing even more. Just to exemplify, Brazil Game Show, which is the largest event in the area, had more than 150,000 people attending in its 2013 edition.
- Latin American companies are developing games that are getting international recognition, proving that with little investment, you can still make quality products, such as Knights of Pen and Paper, Kingdom Rush, and Juego del Chavo.
The Next Big Thing
Now, here is the final point: the Latin American market is dying for new products that are targeted to them. Latin American companies are talented and thirsty for new challenges and projects. It is just a matter of time before they start ruling the market, and what it takes for them to start is investment.
We all know that the economy in these countries is tricky, and that it is about to grow. Still, it does not allow most studios to only focus on their own IPs, forcing them to divide their time with work-for-hire so that they can maintain themselves.
More and more publishers are looking at this market and industry, and that is a great start for Latin studios to show the potential they have, and for the global publishers to bite a great piece of this huge market. And it will be just a matter of time before we see Latin games on the global Top 10 of mobile stores. All they need is a chance to prove their value.