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AFRICAN GAMING INDUSTRY: THE EMERGENCE OF LOCAL DEVELOPERS AND ESPO

Africa’s video game market has experienced rapid expansion in recent years. According to a report by Newzoo and Carry1st, a South African gaming platform, the number of gamers in sub-Saharan Africa surged nearly threefold, from 77 million in 2015 to 186 million in 2021.

 

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This growth has been predominantly fueled by the widespread adoption of mobile gaming, with 95% of gamers in the region preferring smartphones or tablets over consoles and personal computers. Revenues from game sales in Africa have followed a strong upward trajectory, reaching $862.8 million in 2022, marking an 8.7% increase from 2021. Mobile games accounted for the majority of this revenue, making up 90% of the region’s total video game sales in 2022. Projections from Newzoo suggest that gaming revenue in Africa is set to surpass $1 billion for the first time in 2024, highlighting a growing willingness to pay for games across the continent.

A detailed examination of ten major countries in the region—Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Angola, Tanzania, Cameroon, and Uganda—based on gaming revenues in 2022 reveals the following:

Nigeria emerged as the leading video gaming market in Africa in 2022, surpassing South Africa by a slight margin, with gaming revenues totaling $249 million compared to South Africa’s $236 million. Other top performers included Kenya ($46 million), Ethiopia ($42 million), and Ghana ($34 million), with Ethiopia experiencing the fastest growth rate at 13%. Combined, the gaming revenue of Nigeria and South Africa exceeded that of the other eight leading countries combined, indicating the relative maturity of these markets compared to others on the continent.

The gaming industry in Africa holds promising growth prospects. According to GSMA, smartphone ownership in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to increase from 51% in 2022 to 88% in 2030, expanding access to online gaming platforms. Additionally, rapid urbanization and rising incomes among African consumers are expected to bolster the console market, which is currently limited and costly in many African countries.

FINTECH INNOVATION IN AFRICA’S GAMING REVOLUTION

The payments landscape in gaming is currently at an exciting turning point. In 2020, Epic Games initiated legal proceedings against Apple and Google, alleging that they maintained unlawful monopolies through their app stores. This lawsuit challenged the 30% commission imposed by these corporations on app store transactions and their regulations prohibiting developers from integrating alternative payment methods.

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While many developers are enthusiastic about the possibility of increasing their profits from existing sales in Western markets, expanding payment options in emerging markets holds significant potential for boosting revenue, broadening access, and enhancing everyone’s share of the market. Africa is not a uniform entity but a dynamic and diverse terrain of gaming communities, including those in Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and beyond, representing considerable, yet untapped, opportunities.

As businesses tailor their offerings to meet the distinct needs of these customers, the potential for establishing substantial and scalable enterprises in Africa is substantial, potentially rivaling the dominance of large global consumer internet companies that currently dominate headlines.

With fintech advancements driving progress in the African gaming sector, both the region and its customers prove to be formidable forces that should not be underestimated.

ESPORTS IN AFRICA

Esports, or competitive video gaming, is a swiftly evolving and expanding domain that has garnered global engagement from gamers and investors alike. Africa boasts a lively and enthusiastic community of gamers keen to exhibit their prowess and vie for prizes in both regional and international competitions. The rapid growth of esports in Africa can be attributed to enhanced access to high-speed internet and gaming technology, facilitating online interaction and competition among gamers, as well as enabling them to broadcast their gameplay to wider audiences. Additionally, the proliferation of local and international tournaments held on the continent, particularly in South Africa, serves as a catalyst for esports growth. These events not only provide opportunities for gamers to showcase their skills and compete for prizes but also foster a sense of community by bringing together players from various regions across the continent.

One notable figure in the African esports scene is Sylvia Gathoni, a Kenyan esports player and content creator known as “Queen Arrow”. Since 2017, she has been actively participating in international esports competitions, specializing in fighting games, particularly the “Tekken” series developed by Japanese game publisher Bandai Namco Entertainment. Gathoni’s proficiency and accomplishments in numerous esports tournaments in Africa and on the global stage have led to her sponsorship by international energy drinks company Red Bull.

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TOP GAMING INDUSTRY IN AFRICA

  • Maliyo Games:- Founded in 2012 by Hugo Obi, Maliyo Games emerged after his tenure in the financial services sector in Europe and Asia.The game development studio is renowned for its creation of locally inspired games deeply rooted in African culture and highly relatable to its audience.

Maliyo Games is dedicated to crafting games that authentically depict African culture, traditions, and everyday life, while incorporating compelling storytelling.From “Okada Ride,” a game exploring the thrilling yet chaotic motorcycle rides in Nigerian cities, to “Aboki Run,” set in bustling markets, Maliyo Games consistently integrates local experiences into their games, revolutionizing the gaming landscape in Nigeria.

Their games, available on mobile and tablets, are poised to reach a broad audience both domestically and internationally. Their steadfast commitment to representing African narratives through gaming has garnered attention not only within the continent but also globally, solidifying their status as a key player in the African gaming industry. In 2015, Maliyo Games received the “Best Entertainment & Media” Award at the AppsAfrica Innovation Awards, recognizing their innovative approach to developing games that showcase African culture and entertainment, and acknowledging their significant impact within the industry.

Recently, Maliyo Games’ initiative, “The African Games Industry Award,” was honored by the Games Industry Awards Africa as the “Industry Initiative of The Year,” further affirming their commitment to advancing the African gaming sector.

  • Deluxe Creation Studio :- Deluxe Creation Studios, headquartered in Lagos, is a media and entertainment company specializing in the creation and development of premium animation, compelling narratives, media solutions, and exciting game titles.

Established in 2014 by Edushola, the founder and team lead, the game studio initially operated as a one-person venture. Deluxe Creation Studios is dedicated to crafting games that portray African stories through captivating narratives and visually striking graphics.

One of the studio’s standout creations is “Chike,” launched in 2017. Although encountering initial download challenges, the subsequent game release, “Stickman,” based on the popular stickman trend, gained traction, with series such as “Stickman – Save Your World” following suit. Their portfolio boasts approximately 15 games, including titles like “Chike-SkyRaider,” “Stickman Defend,” “Stickman Fight Badlandz,” and “Ragdoll Sandbox Playground,” collectively amassing over 50,000 installations.

Most of Deluxe Creation Studios’ games draw inspiration from prevalent trends in Nigeria. In an interview with Talku Talku Magazine, founder Edu Shola discussed the company’s future focus on developing interactive and enjoyable games. Additionally, they have initiated collaborations, such as with David Kimekwe on the “Urban Fury Project.”

Another ongoing project is “Chike Lost in Metaverse,” a 3D platformer set in the metaverse, which serves as a derivative of the “Adventures of Chike.”

  • Dash Studios:- Established in March 2022, Dash Studios quickly gained recognition by launching ‘NOUNS’ in March 2023, which is available for download on iOS and the Google Play store.

If you’ve ever enjoyed the classic ‘Name, Animal, Place, and Thing’ column game, NOUNS will evoke a sense of familiarity and joy. The game achieved remarkable success, receiving acclaim from players in Nigeria and beyond.

With a focus on creating engaging experiences for PC, Mobile, and Consoles, Dash Studios is dedicated to addressing the persistent challenges faced by African game developers. They aim to do so through mentorship programs, funding initiatives, and providing publishing opportunities to aspiring developers, fostering the development of world-class games capable of competing globally. Among Dash Studios’ eagerly anticipated upcoming projects are ‘Nouns Attack’ and ‘Nouns: The Hunt.’

CONCLUSION

In a continent bursting with creativity and innovation, these three game development studios stand out, showcasing Africa’s prowess in the gaming industry. From compelling narratives to cutting-edge technology, each studio brings a unique perspective to the gaming landscape. As Africa continues to carve its niche in the global gaming scene, these studios are leading the way, promising more groundbreaking titles and contributions that captivate audiences worldwide. Stay tuned as they continue to shape the gaming narrative, bridging cultures, and pushing boundaries in the ever-evolving world of gaming.

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James Falodun aka St James is a is a purpose and goal driven person with the passion to consistently invest time and resources into lives of people for a return of impact. I have worked in profit and non profit organization as a volunteer.

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