Latin America´s gaming industry gathered in Montevideo

Gamelab gathered 700 people in Montevideo including the most influential video game developers of Latin America and renowned international personalities. The event was co-organized by the Global Services Program of Uruguay XXI, through Smart Talent and Uruguay Smart Services.

The most influential Latin American game developers met in Gamelab Montevideo. In addition to its 700 attendees, the event lined up international key players like Gonzo Suarez, Charles Cecil, Max Cavazzani and Ian Livingstone who showed great enthusiasm with the Uruguayan and Latin American video game developing industry, and encouraged local entrepreneurs and developers to think globally and share their talent worldwide.

The activity took place on December 8th at ANTEL’s Torre de las Telecomunicaciones (Telecommunications Tower), and besides the conference sessions, the audience had the chance to visit the expo floor where more than 20 Uruguayan game studios showed demos of their upcoming and most popular games. This allowed international visitors to learn more about the work developed in Uruguay.

The Director and Founder of Gamelab, Ivan Fernández Lobo, opened the event together with the Executive Director of Uruguay XXI, Antonio Carámbula, ANTEL’s President, Andrés Tolosa, and Rodrigo Díaz Etchegaray, National Director of Telecommunications and Audiovisual Services of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining.

Fernández Lobo stated that Gamelab Montevideo won’t be a one-time event and that he intends to build a bridge between the Latin American sector and the major international markets. This event will share the same leadership and frequency than the main conference based in Barcelona.

Gamelab Montevideo was co-organized by Gamelab and the Uruguayan Video Game Board, better known in Uruguay as “Mesa de Videojuegos”, which comprises both public and private actors of the Uruguayan video game industry, including the Global Services Program of Uruguay XXI.

A cultural industry in expansion

Currently, the video game industry is the biggest cultural industry in both economic and social terms. Globally, this industry involves nearly 60 billion US dollars with a constant annual growth rate. Despite the complex global economic situation, in 2015 a 7.8% growth is expected in the interactive entertainment’s turnover which mostly is explained by the expansion of the Asian market and mobile devices penetration. Worldwide, the number of players exceeds 1000 million (1600 million in 2013, according to the specialized consultancy company Newzoo) and 78% of consumers use mobile devices as platforms to play games. The global gaming market for mobile devices has a yearly projected growth of 27.3%, with the opportunity to reach 17400 million in 2016. The gaming market for tablets will grow a 400% by 2016, reaching 7300 million users.

Video Games in Latin America

Latin America has become the hottest region with the highest growth rate for the video game industry. This success is explained by the Internet penetration which exceeds 50%, mobile devices penetration and some success cases of video game companies which have developed international hits. According to Newzoo, in 2017 there will be 60% increase in the number of players using mobile devices in Latin America, very much above the expected 36% growth in Eastern Europe, and 21% in the Asia-Pacific region. Also, only during 2014, 110 million smartphones were sold in Latin America- nearly one tenth of all the smartphones distributed worldwide.

Some data about the video game industry in Uruguay

The video game industry in Uruguay is very recent and it’s booming. It consists of only 20 young registered companies, mostly microenterprises, the two largest studios having just over 20 employees. Nevertheless, downloads recorded during 2014 exceed 10 million. It is a successful industry, not only for having #1 games in the leading mobile stores, but also because companies own a high percentage of the intellectual property (IP).

According to a survey by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining, in 2014 Uruguayan gaming companies had 119 workers -36% of them were partners, 49% employees, and 15% were hired as free-lancers. This industry recruits young people; more than 80% of the work-force are under 35 years old.

In total, companies surveyed during the last two years have released 35 games and are developing another 29. Free download is the main commercial strategy followed by the Uruguayan video game industry, and is followed by direct sales, advergame and freemium. It’s a predominantly export industry as most of the sales are focused on the international market.

The Uruguayan Video Game Board (“Mesa de Videojuegos”)

The Uruguayan Video Game Board is a work-group organized by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining, composed of different private and public institutions. It has the aim to promote measures and instruments to stimulate the development of the video game industry in Uruguay. The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining, Uruguay XXI- through Uruguay Smart Services and Smart Talent-, ANTEL and Ingenio represent the public sector; the private branch is represented by two business associations- CUTI and Proanima-, and by some recognized leaders of the video game industry in Uruguay.

Strategic plan for the sector

As one of the most important initiatives of the Uruguayan Video Game Board, the Global Services Program of Uruguay XXI is promoting the development of a strategic plan together with an international expert in order to define the roadmap of the Uruguayan video game industry in terms of its internationalization and competitiveness.

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