Estimates show that 10 percent of the global esports audience – 550 million – live in Latin America. What’s the potential for esports in Latin America?
LatAm has the potential to be a significant international esports market but historically has been very local. This is due to the undeveloped internet infrastructure across the region, as well as a wider lack of affordability and availability. While this has restricted esports players in LatAm from making it onto the international stage, they have been able to build a strong market inside the region with influencers playing a significant role in driving audiences to products as part of mutually beneficial partnerships between game producers, tournament hosts, teams and players.
Interestingly, the lack of affordability and accessibility has been a catalyst for the decline of PC and console esports and the rise of mobile gaming. That said, console gaming remains popular, especially among those that enjoy sports simulators. This taps into the sporting culture across the region and the love of live-action sports such as football. In contrast, PC Esports requires players to relocate closer to North American regions where they can have fast internet connections to compete worldwide.
Product owners are constantly working to improve their solutions to attract more users. This includes ensuring the barrier to entry remains low and that player expectations are not only met but exceeded. This in turn will see an influx of new products hit the LatAm market, and this will open up even more opportunities for local players and teams, and the wider industry.
How is the betting industry tapping into this potential, and how can its current approach be improved going forwards?
In recent years, we have seen a growing number of betting operators target local markets and actively promote their esportsbooks to consumers. Several top-tier operators have already achieved significant success in these local markets, and this has mostly been done via leveraging sponsorship agreements and tailoring their offerings to meet local preferences. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for LatAm, I believe that operators must adapt their offering to appeal to younger generations with a particular focus on providing a wide range of esports markets and odds while constantly improving the user experience, especially on mobile.
Like land-based and iGaming, the overall Latin American landscape for esports is far from homogenous. Where are teams, competition and sponsorship prevalent? What are the challenges and opportunities that come with this diversity?
As I said, for a long time the LatAm esports market was very much local with several established teams competing with each other to maximise opportunities within that local market. Those that were successful have been able to relocate their teams and players and gain greater exposure on the esports scene in Europe and North America, essentially helping them become mainstream. That said, a balanced approach is important so that local teams can continue to develop local talent and then offer them the opportunity to progress to the big leagues. Of course, these players can build a large fanbase locally. This approach has proved to be successful and has worked for some time now.
When it comes to sponsorship and investment, influencers typically support teams and players from their local country when given the opportunity to do so. For example, famous football players invest in teams while other influencers establish esports clubs and sign teams under their own brands. This showcases the potential for partnerships with sponsors beyond local markets. Others invest in software solutions and other related businesses. All of this helps to inspire new players to give esports a go and achieve success for themselves.
The full interview was originally published in G3 Magazine.