GameBaba Universe

Opinion: Why Africa’s Gaming Industry Potentials Remain Hidden From Investors

Africa's gaming industry need serious investment

Game consumption has experienced a steady rise over the past decades. In line with the law of demand and supply, game development has followed, with indie game developers popping up around the globe. However, Africa’s gaming industry has not seen much of the searchlight, notwithstanding its enormous gaming market.

Why Africa’s Gaming Industry Potentials Remain Hidden To Investors (Photo credit: Pexels/Cottonbro Studio)
(Photo credit: Pexels/Cottonbro Studio)

A 2020 report by NewZoo showed that Africa is the fifth-largest gaming market in the globe. The revenue from games in 2020 alone was estimated to be $3.3 billion. However, every time a new game release is announced, every other continent will get a date except Africa.

The absence of a marketing plan is likely one of the reasons why revenue from Africa’s gaming industry has remained low. Gamers in most African countries struggle to get their hands on physical copies of most games.

ALSO READ: 10 Hottest 2023 Video Games Fit For Fourth Of July Celebration

During my high school days, I remember renting game CDs from my friend because I couldn’t find the titles to buy. He would often give me the game to play for 24 hours. To maximize my time, I would dangerously play for long hours, depriving myself of sleep.

For a sector worth billions of dollars, Africa’s gaming industry is too big to be ignored. If properly harnessed, Africa’s gaming industry can become the new oil for a continent burdened with external debts. Games can become Africa’s biggest export considering the growing young population turning to video games as a preferred form of entertainment.

To paint a better picture of Africa’s gaming industry, I will analyze it from two angles: the consumer side and the developer side.

Publishers are expanding game distribution channels, but…

Africa's gaming industry need more physical sales
(Photo credit: Pexels/Kevin Bidwell)

In the last decade or so, game publishers have made considerable efforts to improve game distribution across the globe. This is done by expanding the channels through which gamers can purchase their favorite titles. Part of the solution was to make games available in online stores like Amazon, Epic Game Store, Walmart, and several others.

In addition to expanding the retail locations of games, PlayStation introduced the PlayStation Plus while Xbox introduced the Game Pass. Although the gesture is commendable, Africans remain alienated to a large extent. Considering the poor and mostly costly Internet access in most African countries, digital copies is usually not an option for most Africans.

Not many African gamers will be willing to spend $70 to purchase a standard copy of a game and burn another $150 on internet access and electricity to download and play the game. As of 2020, it was estimated that there were 87 million active gamers in Africa. If physical copies of games become readily available, I am sure that the $3.3 billion revenue of 2020 will be exceeded.

ALSO READ: 2023 Annapurna Interactive Showcase Brings News About 2022 GOTY Contender

To penetrate Africa’s gaming industry, game publishers need a physical store in Africa. I challenge one of the big game publishers like Electronic Arts, Annapurna, Ubisoft, Activision, and so on to make an effort to set up a physical shop in one or two African countries where they can sell physical copies of games and see how their revenue from the region will jump.

For a start, I would recommend South Africa for the southern part of the continent, Nigeria for the west, Kenya for the east, and Egypt for the northern part of the continent.

I recommend these countries because they are the economic superpowers in their respective regions. Also, they have a large young population of gamers—as well as those that can easily be initiated into the gaming culture.

Developers in Africa’s gaming industry are stifled by poor financing

A few months ago, I hopped on LinkedIn to see if I would find an African game studio. I was shocked to realize that they were lots of game studios on the continent. My next question was, why were they not making games and distributing them to the rest of the world like studios in Asia, Europe, and America were doing?

Well, I later found the answer to that question. While there are intelligent developers in Africa’s gaming industry, what they can do is limited by how much they have. Most game studios in Africa simply don’t have the money to support huge game developments—the kind of games that makes headlines.

To put it in context, Ivory Coast’s 2023 fiscal year budget was XOF11,494 billion (approx. $16.9 billion). GTA 6 is rumored to cost $1 billion to make. It will be hard for any studio in Africa to match that amount.

Game development is a long-term project that involves pumping in money for several months or years. Most AAA games take 2 to 5 years to make. During this time, the studio will have to spend on paying the wages of the developers and other fees that may come up during the process—sometimes doing this without significant earnings.

Money is also needed to build the right infrastructure for advanced game development in Africa. Most advanced studios now make use of motion capture for creating realistic game cutscenes and in-game animations. The best that most studios in Africa’s gaming industry are privy to are powerful desktops and padded cushions.

Africa’s gaming industry will experience an explosion if…

Why Africa’s Gaming Industry Potentials Remain Hidden To Investors
(Photo credit: Pexels/Antoni Shkraba)

I had the opportunity to see Flamin Hot, a movie that saw a janitor rise to become a top executive. Immediately, I could see a similar scenario playing out in Africa’s gaming industry. In the movie, Richard Montanez quit a life of crime and took a job at Frito-Lay.

While the company was struggling and workers were being laid off, he invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos with his wife and eventually targeted the Latino market in the United States. He eventually became the first Latino frontline worker promoted to an executive position at Frito-Lay.

ALSO READ: Football Manager 24 Will Bring Highly Demanded Feature To Life

The first Black Panther movie grossed over $1.3 billion in 2018. A huge part of that success was tied to the inclusion of Africa in the movie—the first Marvel movie to portray a Black protagonist. The same success can be replicated in Africa’s gaming industry. Africans want to see themselves genuinely represented in games.

More recently, some studios around the globe are doing more to improve diversity. More games like Forspoken are getting black protagonists. However, it goes beyond just having black protagonists. I want to see a fighting game where Adekunle will fight Chukwudi using familiar skills and not just have the same old characters with different skin tones and alien skills.

I want to see games set in open-world cities like Lagos or Abuja or Nairobi with familiar structures and landmarks. With over 1.3 billion people on the continent, Africa’s gaming industry has enormous potential.

All it will take for Africa’s gaming industry to reach its full potential is an investor that is willing to take the chance. Also, I think African game studios should reach out to bigger studios for partnerships. They should focus on smaller developments until they have the resources for bigger projects.

What is your favorite game developed by an African game studio? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Remember to share and bookmark this website to stay up to date on all the hottest news in the gaming industry.