The gaming industry in Latin America and top payment methods used by gamers in the region

LatAm is the fastest growing gaming market in the world, and the gaming industry needs to rely on more than credit cards to succeed.

João Paulo Notini
April 12, 2022
7 min read

Latin America (LatAm) is the fastest growing market in the world for the online gaming industry. Now, more than ever, it is time for global techs to learn more about how to play the game in the region. 

In this article, you will have key insights about the local market’s potential, as well as what the Latin American gamer wants when they are making a purchase. We will drill down the key payment methods available and get you updated about what are the main trends. 

Are you ready to play? Let’s go!

The game in Latin America is on

LatAm is the current gaming industry’s paradise. Why? According to 2021 NewZoo Global Games Market Report, LatAm is already the fastest growing region in the world with a 5.1% YoY growth in revenue, which was estimated in USD 7.2 billion. More so, the region has over 289 million players. 

Global games market per region – with YoY growth rates

Source: retrieved from 2021 NewZoo Global Games Market Report

So, what’s behind the region’s success? Experts point out that the rapid growth of mobile gaming and the emergence of cloud gaming are the main responsible for it. 

There is a significant mobile penetration and development of internet connectivity throughout LatAm. The Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) reported that by 2025, mobile penetration in the region would be at 73%. Meanwhile, smartphones are expected to account for 80% of all internet connections in the region. This has, of course, a direct impact on games.

Last year, according to NewZoo, mobile accounted for 73% of the devices used by Latin American gamers, followed by PC (63%) and console (60%), It represented, furthermore, 48% of the region’s game revenue in 2021 with USD 1.91 billion. Hence, being mobile-first, is a trend that can’t be overlooked. 

Latin Americans are willing to pay to play

First of all, if we consider only mobile games, nearly half of the Latin American players are willing to pay to play (a share that continues to grow year over year):

  • 43% in 2010 
  • 46% in 2020
  • 47% in 2021

+4.9% Payers CAGR 2021-2024

Source: NewZoo, June 2021

When looking at the average spending of mobile gamers in recent years, we see that the growth trend repeats:

  • USD 22.1 in 2019
  • USD 26.1 in 2020 
  • USD 27.3 in 2021
Source: NewZoo, June 2021

Now, if we go further and analyze the whole gaming market, according to NewZoo, hardcore gamers represent 9% of Latin American gamers. This is the type of gamer that live and breathe games, and really invest in them. Therefore, they are the most purchase-prone audience in the market. Also, we have conducted an internal survey which pointed out that 74.7% of gamers of the gamers here at EBANX, pay to play, while 74.2% use recurrence or subscription. 

Winning the game through payments

LatAm is a diverse region and all gaming merchants must pay attention to their local consumers’ needs. If Latin American gamers are willing to pay to play, charging in the local currency and showing the purchase real amount, mitigates the risks of chargebacks and refunds. 

Furthermore, knowing how and where consumers want to pay, is also a matter of survival. Thus, from traditional payment options, like credit cards, to local alternative payment methods (APMs) such as PIX in Brazil, let’s see the key options for the gaming industry in LatAm.  

Cards

After analyzing 6 of our global gaming merchants, we found that credit cards were the first payment method choice asked to be implemented when they started to operate with us. This is not a surprise, since domestic and international credit cards are the most common payment methods on the region’s e-commerce, as reported by our 2020/2021 Beyond Borders study.

The downside of credit cards is that they are only accessible to a third of Latin Americans. Besides, about half of the population in the region is unbanked. After debit cards, which are the third most common payment method on LatAm’s e-commerce, APMs such as prepaid cards (that work as vouchers and are sold in physical stores across the region) are a great alternative for gaming companies.

According to a LABS news, from December 2021, gift cards are distributed in over 500,000 retail points, in 35 countries. InComm Payments, a reference in prepaid cards, is targeting the LatAm market by offering prepaid cards for services from global brands, such as Xbox, Uber, Spotify, Netflix, PlayStation, and others.

InComm Payments‘ country manager for Brazil, Ricardo Olivieri believes this trend will sustain for a long time in LatAm. Gift and prepaid cards are tools for access, and he strengthens the argument that access to credit or bank accounts in the region is limited. “Today, everyone wants to watch Netflix, play League of Legends, and so on. So, the category is aimed at democratizing services”, pointed out Olivieri in an interview for LABS in October 2021.

Digital Wallets and Instant Payments

Among several APM options and online gaming payments, digital wallets are definitely a need. Our 2021/2022 Beyond Borders study reported that e-wallets were expected to increase 40% across LatAm in 2021, reaching a volume of USD 33.4 billion regarding the region’s digital commerce. Successful examples of digital wallets includes Nequi in Colombia, and PayPal in Brazil. 

Ubisoft has stated to LABS that the gaming market has a different payment behavior in the region. “We’ve observed that our players use both credit cards and wallets. We regularly evaluate innovations and payment methods, such as the instant payments PICPAY and PIX, and add new payment methods relevant locally. We’re always looking for opportunities to enable more players to access our games with ease”.

“Access games with ease” means also the need for one click-payments. Our internal survey found that agility (98.4%), security (83.3%) and user experience (79%) were the most relevant factors for gamers when making a transaction. Players want to make purchases without having to exit their games, but trusting that the process is all fine. So, instant payments, such as PIX, fulfill all these needs by enabling immediate purchases in a safe way.

Other relevant alternative payments from the gaming industry

There are other APMs that deserves attention from the gaming industry. BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later), vouchers (such as Boleto in Brazil and OXXO in Mexico), crypto and in-app payments are all great options for gamers. 

According to LABS, ˜App Store and Google Play are pushing consumers to alternate payment mechanisms and ditching the costs of up to 30% of tech giants.˜ We have also seen the impact of the high mobile penetration in the region. Thus, along with this phenomenon, cloud gaming has been pushing subscription model possibilities. Now, new options such as direct carrier billing, with payments being charged directly on the gamer’s mobile phone, is a reality that can’t be overlooked. 

Key Takeaways

The booming gaming market in LatAm has been mainly driven by the increasing mobile and internet penetration throughout the region. There are many opportunities for gaming merchants, but they need to understand their consumer’s needs. 

When it comes to payments, agility, security and user experience are key aspects considered by gamers. We have also seen that relying only on traditional payment methods, such as credit cards, can be a big mistake. 

Now, more than ever, in order to reach more  players in LatAm, the gaming industry must look at the local payment methods available and focus on being digital first. By expanding their consumer payment options according to each local needs, they end up improving the gaming experience and are able to gain their players’ trust. 

Unlock more gamers, optimize approval rates and provide a seamless payment experience for your Latin American customers.

Key strokes to score loyal gamers

If you have reached here, then go further and learn more about the Latin American gaming industry! Check out our infographic about the Latin American gamer profile to find deeper insights and other relevant data about the region. We have also included key tips on how to provide a smooth experience for in-game transactions. 

The Latin American Gamer Profile

Catch on to the main characteristics and habits of gamers from Latin America.
João Paulo Notini
João Paulo Notini
Senior Content Marketing | Cross-Border operations at EBANX

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