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Making a living by working remotely is truly becoming a reality across many industries in Latin America. Talent pipelines are being created for software engineers and data analysts to either improve their skills or easily find good-paying jobs. AI-based tools are also becoming available to help companies meet their employment needs.
Now, professionals and companies from the video game industry –one of the most promising in the region– may also have a good shot at improving their job opportunities and workforce.
California-based TheXPlace is a recently created platform for video game professionals worldwide. It is a community with two key purposes: to help professionals strengthen their network to find good work opportunities, and to support gaming companies to find the specialized talent they need.
Maya Rand, CEO and founder of TheXPlace, says that “game designer” or “UX/UI designer” are terms used very broadly that don’t always consider what gaming companies actually need.
“You can see a ‘game designer’ profile on other job sites, but you don’t have detailed visibility into the projects they worked on, the platforms they designed for, the tools and skills they used, and the recognition they’ve received for it,” she says.
TheXPlace shows all of this so “gaming companies can easily identify if a person fits their needs”, mentions Rand. As staffing a role in gaming can be costly, taking anywhere from 25%-65% of a professional’s annual salary, TheXPlace hopes to bring a much more competitive cost structure for gaming companies.
Rand also says that her company helps diversify the industry, as it avoids hiring biases by highlighting the gaming professional’s portfolio and hiding their full name and picture on its platform.
TheXPlace is operating on a closed beta phase right now, but it’s already working with top game makers like Ubisoft, Zynga, Tencent, and Activision Blizzard. The company has raised US$1.3 million in a pre-seed round from investing funds XFactor Ventures, Two Lanterns Venture Partners, Angel Ventures, and Hustle Fund, as well as individual investors like Alex and Chris Rigopulos of Harmonix Music Systems (acquired by Epic Games), Kai Huang of RedOctane (acquired by Activision), and Susana Meza Graham, former Paradox Interactive executive and games investor.
It plans to raise a seed round in the months after the results from the beta phase come up. However, TheXPlace has invited companies and talent to request access to the closed beta by visiting https://thexplace.ai/.
Latam: The gaming industry’s crown jewel
Latin America is the fastest-growing region for gaming in the world. A 2021 analysis from EBANX shows that the Latam market is growing at a rate of 5.1%, faster than the Asia-Pacific market, while North America and Europe are shrinking. Mexico and Brazil are leading this growth. They generated a total of US$3.65 billion in revenue in 2020.
Worldwide, gaming has become one of the most profitable segments of entertainment with over US$98 billion in revenue in 2020 –almost double of what the movie industry raked in globally in 2019 (US$41 billion). It is expected to reach a staggering US$268 billion by 2025 as more consumers have embraced games both on their PC consoles and mobile phones.
While the consumer market is very promising, the gaming production industry is also growing. There are over a thousand gaming studios in the region, 880 of which are based in Brazil. One of them, Wildlife Studios, is a unicorn valued at US$3 billion that could go public soon.
But for game designers and professionals, the market is dire. Just the top 20% of the talent pool will massively outperform their peers. A 2020 report from the International Development Bank found that some of the main bottlenecks to develop a stronger gaming industry in the region are a scarcity of talent, especially when it comes to game art and design; a lack of integration in the global gaming supply chains, and the sector’s high fragmentation.
You may also be interested: Memo Ochoa joins Altered Ventures to boost the regional gaming industry