In recent years, Africa’s gaming industry has grown immensely, with a rise in players. The growth hasn’t ended yet, the upward trajectory is predicted to continue into the coming year.
Gaming, to no one’s surprise, is incredibly popular in the global community. In fact, according to France24, it is estimated that the video gaming industry is worth a staggering $140 billion globally. The gaming industry has presented an incredibly opportunity and the fact that numerous African game producers have set their sights upon it isn’t surprising.
The video gaming “gold mine”
Africa’s interest in gaming has experienced a general hike in the last few years. In Africa, the number of active video gaming players was recorded at 23 million in 2014. This figure has now more than swelled to an impressive 500 million thanks largely to the rise of mobile phones.
This increase in participants has meant that the African gaming industry has experienced an unprecedented growth in revenue. According to France24 the market for games rose from $105 million to $570 million in just four years. The African gaming industry as a whole is estimated to have reached the billion-dollar mark when you take into account hardware sales.
According to GamingScan, as the industry grows, it will develop and expand to introduce multiple forms of gaming. Quite recently, ‘e-sports’ a new form of gaming, was introduced to the African gaming community. This is basically the introduction of video gaming as a competitive sport. It has become increasingly popular in several African countries including South Africa.
Dozens of tournaments are held on an annual basis for popular video games. Just this year, in fact, VS Gaming held tournaments for the video games entitled ‘CS:GO’ and ‘Dota 2’. The winners of the tournaments were awarded a collective R1.85 million (approximately $130,000).
FEJA is another example. Taking place in Abidjan between the 23rd and 25th of November, FEJA is the biggest E-sports tournament held in Africa in terms of the number of countries involved. Up to 40 professional video gamers flew in from all over the continent just for this particular event.
With the rise of E-sports in Africa, manufacturers of gaming related equipments can also expect to benefit, according to Jason Strandom, an importer of PC related products in South Africa. “We’re seeing an increasing demand for products like gaming keyboards, monitors, and budget gaming chairs in the $100 to $200 USD range like never before from our customers.”
The rise in Mobile gaming
Mobile gaming, in particular, is experiencing a significant growth in popularity. This is largely attributed to the fact that mobile phones are more easily accessible than gaming consoles.
A South African video game maker, Simon Spreckly, commented on the phenomenon:
“The penetration of mobile devices in Africa is huge. People often have two or three phones, which is pretty crazy”…We’ve done a jump and instead of first going with PC, we’ve gone directly to mobile”.
He further elaborated on the accessibility of mobile phones, commenting “With the emergence of a number of low-cost smartphones, it’s now very easy to purchase a mobile phone”. This has led to a significant rise in the internet usage in the continent, with more than half of the citizens in South Africa owning a smartphone.
The explosion in the game industry is expanding in Africa and it’s benefiting both the avid gaming fans and businesses in Africa.
The creation of new job opportunities
As the gaming industry expands, the need for employees will increase; opening up numerous avenues for paid work. Video game marketers, graphic and sound designers, hardware producers, and project managers are all examples of the jobs that are in demand in Africa.
To maintain the explosion in the future…
Companies are raising awareness regarding to the need for a focus on education in the continent.
Sidick Bakayoko, the founder of an independent group of game developers known as ‘Paradise Game’, highlighted upon the need for schools to educate the population about the gaming industry.
“We need to create our own games and to do that we need to have our own developers and studios,” he said, “And how do you get studios? You need schools.”
A focus on schooling would allow the country to make use of the opportunities that a boom in the gaming industry provides, as it would increase the number of game developers that could join the African gaming industry.
Despite this perceived problem, Africa has made impressive strides in the video games industry.
Wilfried Ouonouan’s comment focuses on this. As a game designer working for Work’d gaming studio he is concerned with the lack of infrastructure in the country but his comment sheds light on the issues that Africa has successfully contended with.
“We didn’t ever have a class where someone said ‘make a video game’. We’ve learned game developing thanks to YouTube and the Internet. We started a company thanks to YouTube.”
It’s important to take a second to appreciate the growth of the industry. When taking Africa’s local economic and development reality into consideration, it is even more impressive. They have managed to make huge progress despite the need to contend with a range of issues; including the public’s limited access to the internet and online payment methods. When these issues are solved completely, the explosion in the industry would truly be something to behold.
In the end…
The trajectory of the video game industry will only grow as Africa continues to develop and countries like Ghana focus on education. The growth is immense already and thanks to technological innovations and availability of publicly affordable goods become available, the growth will be extraordinary!