Historically, Africans viewed gaming as a pastime. This outlook is gradually changing with more Africans embracing gaming, and the African gaming sector overcoming challenges such as lack of connectivity, investment opportunities, and infrastructure. This has resulted in a rapid rise of not only the number of gamers, but also African-based Gaming Companies. In the last five years, the gaming market has experienced a paradigm shift as many Africans today enjoy both mobile and video games – more so following the recent Pandemic that necessitated many people to stay indoors, hence, incline towards gaming as a preferred activity to counter boredom during the lockdown period. One gaming company anticipating the surge in growth of the industry, Maliyo Games has partnered with Google to upskill and train game developers on the continent.
Following a recent statistical report from All Africa, the growth of the gaming industry is taking an upward trajectory. Today, Mobile Gamers account for 95% of the playing population. Quartz Africa attributes this to African Mobile Games having encountered the means to be profitable – a step up as this wasn’t the case a couple of years ago. A significant number of Africans today also have access to smartphones, and mobile money platforms allow for easy payment. Teddy Kossoko, founder of Masseka Game Studio that creates games based purely on African Culture, Facts and History, envisions a promising gaming future. “The Future of Video Games will be on mobile and the metaverse. Mobile because when the monetization of games is done properly in Africa, the industry will totally change and accelerate,” he says. Without overlooking challenges such as the cost of data which is still expensive, a good solution to counter this is that more people are getting access to Wi-Fi services daily.
The African gaming community is heterogeneous with dynamic people of ages. Developers in the sector make the gaming experience even better by localizing the content to the continent, with most characters, languages and assets adopting some African Characteristics. The games are truly hitting home! With this community growing rapidly, of great significance to notice is that representation matters. Masseka Game Studio proudly boasts of this, as Teddy Kossoko briefly explains that this is the one thing that makes Masseka Games stand out. “Working only with stories, myths and legends from Africa has allowed us to have a unique visual identity. This allowed us to differentiate ourselves because there are not many games like ours,” he says.
Qene Games, the Ethiopian-based gaming company creates games with African culture and roots that are fun, engaging, and provide players with a unique experience woven into every character, scene and music, with the aim of inspiring the young generation with every game. One of their games, Kukulu, is set in Ethiopia Landscapes as the chicken runs through villages, suburbs, and countryside that are uniquely African. The music, characters, and scenery all reflect its origin. Having games that resonate with geographical audiences is a significant opportunity to leverage on, and Qene Games executes this very well. This has also proven to be very successful, with Kukulu winning the Apps Africa Award for best entertainment and media app in 2018, and Gebeta winning the Apps Africa Award for best app of the year 2020.
A one-on-one interview with the CEO, Dawit Abraham and Co-Founder, Samuel Sisay, had them attribute the success of their venture to the massive advantage of untapped talent in the sector, Qene Games being the first and only game studio in Ethiopia. With the majority of the Ethiopian Population being young people, this is a resource and opportunity they have largely leveraged on even as they continue to grow.
VentureBeat, the leading media authority on coverage of the game industry, recently reported that the highly promising Mobile Gaming Sector has increasingly led to developers adding new elements into game development. Apart from localizing content, leveraging blockchain technology is also a great way to ensure that gamers can carry their unique public addresses from one game to another. Paving the way is Usiku Games in Kenya, that harnesses the power of Blockchain Technology to create a meaningful, positive social impact, and fulfill its #GamingForGood Mission. Jay Shapiro, Founder and CEO of Usiku Games says, “Blockchain and Crypto are very different in Africa. In the West, media and investor attention are all focused on trading and speculation, whereas in Africa we are very focused on building utility. There are real world social challenges that blockchain can actually solve. That’s a big part of why Africa has become the world’s innovation lab, particularly for Web3 gaming and solutions. Africa is hard, so if an idea/team can survive and grow there, it can work anywhere.”
While the Gaming Industry in Africa is still incipient, a huge stand out is the rapid rise and emerging evolution hotspots that promise a wealth of potential. As the fabric of the sector continues to be woven, there is no doubt that the future remains crystal clear – Mobile Gaming in the African Landscape will take the world by storm.