In anticipation of ESI Digital Summer (#ESIDIGITAL), presented by Kinguin LOUNGE, Esports Insider spoke with many of our esteemed panelists, partners, and presenters attending the conference to share their perspectives of the unique regional esports scenes represented during the digital conference.
Digital Summer is the second digital event in line this year for ESI and will be the biggest esport industry event of the year. Join us August 17th-21st for five consecutive days of content, wherein each day will focus on a different and important regional market for the esports industry.
To make reading up on the global perspectives from industry veterans and developing brands easy – we’ve broken up the conversations into regional entries, following the itinerary of ESI Digital Summer.
Each entry also features a shortlist of regional opportunities and challenges – gleaned from our conversations – and employment data powered by Hitmarker. These are not meant to be exhaustive, rather to provide context for each region from the perspectives of some of the industry’ finest.
Regional Esports Market Report – Latin America
- Accessible test market for brands
- Passion and talent for competition
- Growing interest in esports thanks to lockdowns
- Proximity to publishers affects communication and growth
- Fragmented regional landscape with esports feasts and famines
- Less access to capital and local currencies’ value internationally
Employment Data – Powered by Hitmarker
- 3.90 percent of total global market share of newly posted jobs in July
Esports Insider held conversations with Pablo Monti, Chief Content Officer of Gaming and Esports at TyC Sports and Esports Manager at Latam Media Group, both located in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Luis Carrillo Pinto, CEO of Live Media SAC in Lima, Peru; and Leo De Biase, Chief Relationship Officer of Bad Boy Leroy out of São Paulo, Brazil – each representing very aspects of the Latin American esports market and countries in the region.
TyC Sports is Buenos Aires-based broadcast television sports network, and created the first Gaming and Esports Department at a major traditional media company in Argentina in 2017. The studio produced the first gaming and esports traditional media shows in the country.
Latam Media Group is a specialised collection of media entities with a multi-platform presence in graphic and digital media. Featuring programming branches such as Gaming Agenda esports news, Esports Industry business news, and Content Factory media production.
Live Media SAC is a four-pronged media company founded in 2017 that encompasses traditional television production, esports content and competitions, sports performance laboratory, and artificial intelligence chatbot development.
Bad Boy Leroy (BBL) is a Brazilian entertainment company focused on partnerships and performance, encompassing the operation and creation of esports tournaments and the production of video game events, working with companies such as Claro, Fanta, Nissin, and Intel. The company’s headquarters houses six broadcast studios and a massive esports arena. BBL holds the exclusive license in Brazil for ESL, the world’s largest producer of esports content and both companies collaborate often to produce events for competitive gamers.
Representing the three dominant esports countries in the region – each panellist represents a C-level perspective with digital media backgrounds of differing scale. Monti works for multiple organisations ranging from hundreds of employees to a consultancy with under 25 to having a hand in The Esports Journal, a Latam Media Group and Esports Insider joint venture. Carrillo Pinto is in charge of a growing media company. De Biase’s organisation employs hundreds of employees across its endeavours.
They all offered insightful and varied perspectives on the Latin American esports landscape and our conversations will hopefully inform those who would like to learn more about the different opportunities and challenges in the region.
Latin America esports are hardly under the radar when it comes to exposure, the region has been synonymous with CS:GO talent for years – and its unique cultural influences have been noticeably felt with the rise of Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking streamers and players breaking into the typically English-language focused “mainstream” esports and gaming content.
But when the region is discussed, the general topic might actually be only relevant Brazil or Argentina and while these countries are large economies in-and-outside of esports – Esports Insider’s correspondence with the different industry leaders made it clear that these larger cultures do not define the region and one cannot speak for the other. However, this is difficult for those operating outside of the region to grasp.
There is a common misconception of how popular esports is within the region, while it does enjoy large fandoms within the online gaming communities and Brazil’s reputation in CS:GO precedes the entire region, this is not a universal truth about the entire region. Many countries do not enjoy the mainstream popularity of esports activity in the regions, and while we have spoken with representatives of the three most active esports communities in the region, they can not represent all 20 countries in the region.
Monti shared that he regularly has to explain what esports is during meetings, even though TyC Sports is the preeminent traditional media source for all esports content in Argentina. Both he, Carrillo Pinto, and De Biase shared sentiments that the region feels decidedly as second-fiddle to both Europe and North America in terms of attention, resources, and infrastructure by publishers.
Accessible test market for brands
“Brazil and [Latin America] are kind of trial grounds for many companies. It’s like [companies think] ‘we cannot do this kind of testing in Europe or North America because if we fail it will really damage our reputation or financial results […] but in [Latin America] it’s kind of No Man’s Land so let’s do that there and if it goes well, we take it globally,’” De Biase shared.
He shared the example of Red Bull Player One, an amateur League of Legends one-versus-one tournament the company tried in Brazil before taking it to global markets. He gave other examples of activations with brands like Burger King and Fanta, incorporating their brands within game worlds or creating mixed-reality products, such a rewards program within Free Fire and Burger King where select purchases could be redeemed form in-game currency as well.
Passion and talent for competition
Carrillo Pinto believes that the world-renowned passion that Latin American fans have for football also exists in esports. This aspect is something he believes that brands should be taking more advantage of in how they interact with the fans. He proudly declared: “The new generation has that DNA that can make a venue explode. We have that same DNA that you see in football – we have it in esports.”
All panellists agree that the audience, the talent and the markets are there. The production level for events and broadcasting is of high quality as well. De Biase stated, “You will see, there’s the Esports Awards, they are open for the public to vote. There are three Brazilians, one of them is [Alexandre] “Gaules” [Borba] and the other is Nyvi [Estephan] that is the host. It will be really weird if they don’t win. Because there will be 200 million Brazilians voting for these guys.”
Growing interest in esports thanks to lockdowns
Although all panellists agree that gamers still face the “mom’s basement” stereotype, since the lockdown measures have been implemented in the region, there has been a growing interest in esports from sponsors and advertisers, according to Carrillo Pinto. “In the last months, things have really changed.” He stated that he’s starting to see more people with job titles of “Regional Manager LATAM” associated with publishers.
“Things are moving, right now, we are not static, that is important to be said,” he said energetically. “We are not abandoned.” He said he has a renewed hope from the publishers adding more roles in the region because he believes that the sponsors will follow the publishers.
Proximity to publishers affects communication and growth
Carrillo Pinto shared his frustration with the relocation of Riot Games’ former Chilean Headquarters to Mexico City, expressing that the player base felt abandoned by the publisher. The distance between publishers is imperative to be able to work together for tournament organisation, as publishers have the final say of whether the tournament will be allowed or not. Monti mirrored the sentiment that there were hardly any local developers making games in the region.
Riot Games has a headquarters in Brazil, but Carrillo Pinto was quick to point out “All the publishers and all the streaming platforms are in Argentina or Brazil. All of them. And Brazil, for us [Peruvians] is another world, because they have another language, they have another type of culture.”
Related to the next challenge below, Carrillo Pinto shares that though the whole region feels in the shadow of North America and Europe, the rest of the region feels in the shadow of Brazil and Argentina. He acknowledged that in the areas that Twitch and YouTube are not focused, Facebook Gaming is picking up steam.
Fragmented regional landscape with esports feasts and famines
“The two most important gaming festivals were always, first, Brazil Game Show then Argentina Game Show. Where all the publishers make all the activations, where the most important tournaments [are hosted], where all the best influencers go, where you can go see spectacular esports events, but the other countries are not focussed on.” Carrillo Pinto continues that these countries do have great players, but he doesn’t feel that the other regions get their fair share of the attention Argentina and Brazil command.
De Biase echoed this sentiment@: “The problem with [Latin America] is that the whole world thinks of them as one region. But when you come to [Latin America] they are really specific and separated countries that don’t like each other. But (countries that are not Brazil or Argentina) don’t have the numbers to justify big investments from companies.”
“If the production is made in Argentina, the guys from Mexico will hate the show, because they will say ‘This wasn’t made for me,’” he said. It’s an incredible challenge to unite Latin America, and some publishers are trying, but it’s difficult for brands to enter the space and consider that Latin America is one region. He ended by saying that Latin America does push viewership numbers for Spanish broadcasts, but it’s a case that’s yet to be cracked.
Local economies competing with high-price tags in international economy
Paying high import costs for equipment is one stepping stone, Monti admits, but another is the difficulty convincing advertisers that are unsure about the scene and its ROI. He explained that many companies he’s approached would rather spend the same amount on social media advertising, than to take a chance on the esports audience.
Carrillo Pinto spoke about deodorant brands entering esports – Axe, Old Spice, for example – but he was clear to state, “The [marketing] budgets are low.” He continued, “For us when we saw a [Dota 2] Major [tournament] for $1 million, and a Peruvian team qualified […] it was like big news! But it’s something that happens in another part of the world. Like here in Latin America, having a tournament for $50,000 or $100,000 is impossible right now. It’s too much.” He stated that the only time that there are tournaments with prize pools like these, there are only betting sponsors, which isn’t looked upon positively.
Employment Data – Powered by Hitmarker
During Esports Insider’s conversation with Hitmarker’s Managing Director, Richard Huggan (featured in the Europe-focused entry of this series), he shared regional data from the premier English-language esports and gaming job site. You’ll find these insights in each respective entry of the series.
The growing popularity of esports in Latin America is well-documented and the 132 job listings on Hitmarker are also on the rise, representing just under 4 percent of all jobs listed on the site.
Huggan noted that a member of his staff is well-versed in Spanish and Portuguese, helping Hitmarker catch opportunities that would otherwise go unrepresented on the site.
Brazil, unsurprisingly, led the way with 72 jobs, over half of the region’s offerings, including Mexico, which was categorised in the Latin America region, featuring 18 jobs. While Brazil boasts perhaps the largest presence on the international esports stage, Argentina is a growing force in the region with 20 listings.
The top five companies hiring in the region, according to Hitmarker’s data from March 1st to July 31st, are: Wildlife Studios, Etermax, Garena, Level Up BR, and Fanatee.
While the region has tired of fighting from the shadows of North America and Europe that these panellists look up to, for example, the ball is beginning to bounce their way and they are finding their stride. De Biase has the utmost confidence in Brazil’s esports development and hopes that the others will follow suit.
“In Brazil,” De Biase shared, “you have esports content happening every day. You have Counter-Strike events, you have Street Fighter, you name it. You have everything happening every day in Brazil.” The size of the community flying under one banner is huge, but it not representative of the whole region, De Biase admitted that the other countries in the region have an admittedly-hard time taking things to the next level, compared to Brazil.
Carrillo Pinto believes that with the renewed attention from the publisher stays then regions outside of Brazil and Argentina will be able to enjoy some of the esports limelight. “Players love the publisher. It can be League of Legends, it can be Dota 2, Rocket League, any game – if you see the publisher involved you think wow, this is certified by the publisher. It’s something big, you know?”
He continued: “Anytime we see a publisher taking a step in a tournament or an event, we see it like (sic) something big. Maybe in other countries, it’s something normal. But for us, it’s something big.” It’s commonly talked about in the industry that the publishers hold the power, but perhaps other regions neglect how normalised it has become to work alongside them, while Latin America is still developing these relationships.
Monti asserted, “One year in esports is like five or seven years in other industries, and that’s completely right. And I believe with this pandemic with people in Latin America starting to be aware of what esports are – this will accelerate those [timelines]. And I believe that during next year we’ll be having massive, massive agreements and big companies and getting into esports in Latin America. I strongly believe that for brands in Latin American the time to jump into esports is now.”
Be sure to catch Monti, Carrillo Pinto, and De Biase speak during ESI Digital Summer during the Latin America programming on Thursday, August 20th.