What are the Most Exciting Gaming StartUps Coming Out of Africa?
Pre-COVID, most African gamers played video games and Thunderbolt online casino games on PCs at cyber cafes or in gaming centers. Just a few short years onward, the majority of gamers in Africa are playing on their smartphones. There are more areas of the content that now have Internet access, more devices are available and a larger percentage of the population has become mobile-savvy.
Gaming in Africa
With a population where the median age is 19.7, Africa is the new focus of much of the gaming industry which sees engagement among residents having nowhere to go but up. The number of gamers in sub-Saharan Africa has more than doubled in the last 5 years and the numbers are expected to increase as more and more people gain access to the Internet.
The country with the largest number of players is South Africa, followed by Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia. Coutinent-wide, the majority of the playing population is on mobile.
Reaching the Target Population
There are a number of African start ups that are specifically targeting the gaming community in Africa. With this goal in mind a collective of African gaming companies have launched a Pan Africa gaming group to establish economic opportunities, share resources, train the next generation of game developers and create job opportunities for the games industry in Africa. PAGG will also be supporting African start-ups that are leading the way in building the gaming industry in Africa.
PAGG represents 10 companies from ten different African nations. Eyram Tawia of Leti Arts told gamesindustry.biz, "One of our core values is not just to build a collection of games, but to incubate Africa's gaming industry of tomorrow.
There is a wealth of incredible talent already on the continent, with more graduating every year from top-tier game development schools like Rubika. Most graduates though are relegated to doing remote work for overseas clients due to the lack of local gaming job opportunities. We're going to fix that"
African Gaming Start-Ups
Some of the new African gaming start-ups that are leading the efforts to expand gaming opportunities in Africa include
Usiku Games Africa is a Kenyan based Social Impact gaming company is combining a new era of blockchain gaming with the goal of creating a primary creative communication channel where stories and cultures can be shared. With a fast-growing middle-class, growing smartphone penetration and a median age of just 19, Africa, Usiku Games believes, can lead the way in showing the world how gaming can become a vibrant part of the living environment and culture.
Usiku Games actively supports the growth and maturation of the African game development community. Usiku founder and chief executive officer Jay Shapiro says that his company is focused on “looking at ways of having financial mechanisms built into the games where people can either earn or spend in a more transparent manner.”
Together with the games development Usiku wants to enforce savings mechanisms so earnings are redirected towards long-term saving instruments – education, health, pension schemes, etc – to help establish a savings culture among African youth and build up their financial resilience.
Kuluya is a Lagos, Nigerian-based studio that develops games in which African players are the key focus. Kuluya has already produced over a hundred titles and they take care of their own video animation, software development, advertising and marketing.
Founder Kunle Ogungbamila says, “We know that gaming will explode across the continent of Africa, just as it has in the West, usurping other forms of entertainment to become a multi-billion dollar generating industry.” Kuluya’s portfolio of games include games for mobile, web and console platforms. Kuluya games include those for both children, teens and adults.
Thoopid evolved from an early mobile gaming studio that was established in Capetown, South Africa in 2013. The founder, RW Liebenberg, used his background in application development to create high-quality games that combine “award winning experience in design, development, digital marketing and emerging media.”
One of the most popular Thoopid games is the Apple Play Snailboy, a physics based puzzle game that features over 40 levels of game play. Snailboy has been praised worldwide for its enchanting storyline, polished animation and impressive HD graphics.
It was awarded First Prize for the “Best Mobile Game” at the DevGamm Kyiv Awards in 2013 and has how inspired a follow-up that promises to be as likeable as the first, Snailboy: Rise of Hermitron.
Maliyo Games is a Lagos start-up created by Hugo Obi. Its web and mobile gaming titles, says Obi, aim to “share the experiences of everyday Africans with a global audience through games.” Maliyo uses narratives, immersive environments, character development, strong visuals and captivating sounds to achieve this objective.
On a grander scheme, Mayilo’s overall goals include expanding the diversity of content within the gaming industry, developing African gaming talent in Africa and becoming the voice of Africa in the global gaming community.