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The business of gaming in Africa

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Attendants play various video games at the inaugural WAGE 14, Dec. 20, 2014.

Attendants play various video games at the inaugural WAGE 14, Dec. 20, 2014.

The worldwide gaming industry is set to generate revenues of over 100 billion dollars by the end of 2016. With mobile gaming responsible for over 40 billion of revenue generated. In a nation like Nigeria where we have over 146,866,356 active mobile phone lines, the search for more entertaining content by mobile phone users is
growing.

We have seen the boom of the music industry, witnessed Nollywood take over the world, and now the final frontier in entertainment is predicted to be Mobile and Online Gaming.

Nigeria is a diverse multi-ethnic country with about a total of 170 million in population  as of 2016. A country like Nigeria with so much diversity and culture is consecrated with traditional games and activities that existed before western colonization.

Nigerians held many traditional sports games such as ayo [ The largest collector of seeds is declared winner], dambe [wrestling], abili, langa, ojuunu and many more. These games were played in different parts of Nigeria. Organizers believed In order to help encourage the cultural heritage and religious history in Nigeria, these games were promoted through competitions. Due to the introduction of mobile phones and broadband access, these games are now being developed into mobile apps and being passed on to the next generation in a medium they can relate to.

Today video games can be enjoyed in various platforms ranging from Consoles, Laptops, Tablets and Mobile phones. Gamsole, Chop up games, are some of the paramount game developers in Africa. Gamsole a Nigerian born mobile game manufacturing company, have created over 50 games in two years for android and PC users; Leveraging on the high number of smart phone users in the region with access to broadband.

Certain game developers around the continent are now taking advantage of the local interest for games that echo local cultures. Games like “Oya Run with friends” Created by ChopUp games, is the first real time game created in Nigeria, “Oya Run with friends” is a game where players can actually play against their friends and other players from around the world on Facebook. Oya Run with Friends is a game where players can choose any presidential candidate and RUN to be the president of Nigeria. The game put a fun twist on the recently concluded Nigerian election, a situation that can be related to by players in the region.

Nigerians can develop games. However, they have to be more diverse in the choice of games and not limit their standard. Now is the time to have a gaming breakthrough. International organizations are starting to see the potential in Africa. Such is the case of Unity Technologies, the worlds largest games development engine) coming to Nigeria for the first time to take part in West African Gaming Expo 2016 (WAGE 16). WAGE 16 is the first and only technology conference and exhibition in West Africa focusing on animation, video, mobile games and related products.

The WAGE 16 conference aims to educate attendees on steps they need to take to be successful in the global gaming industry, tools and resources available to developers working in the region and create a networking atmosphere where potential game developers can learn and meet the experts. Unity will be organizing the first ever certification exam for developers in Africa on the 8 th of November as part of the WAGE 16 activities. Unity certification shows potential employers that the candidate poses strong foundational knowledge for game design and programming skills against a benchmark of proficiency for game production, increasing employment opportunity in a very tough market.

Other organizations looking to the African region include Bournemouth University, who are taking part in WAGE
for the second year running.

WAGE 16 is not only about educating game developers, but also introducing African communities to game playing and the benefits attached to the global gaming industry. With over 70% of Nigeria’s 178 million citizens under the age of 35, it is no surprise the gaming and arcade business is booming in the nation.Game houses / Arcades based in Lagos such as Lair Playground, TiteBoi Entertainment and Joystix are appealing to a more diverse audience of students, working class people, youths and parents.

Organizers of game houses and arcades in the region are having to think about new ways of appealing to their target audience. A good example will be that of Lair Play ground and Joystix, both game houses host weekly games night for players looking to relax after a long day at work.

Generally most of the games being played at game house / arcades across lagos are internationally developed games, popular with game players with big production budgets. Game houses / Arcades will like to feature more African games but due to the difficulties faced by African developers in obtaining publishing licenses to create a console game, the every day African developer is limited to publishing mobile and Online games.

With the worldwide growth of Esport and competitive gaming, Global Esport and competitive gaming revenues in 2015 reached $325 million, a growth rate of than 67.4% year on year. Game houses and Arcade owners are looking to explore this potentially lucrative idea. Unlike international based companies they face financial restrictions as they find sponsorship hard to come by. Mlondi Mashinini of Fanbased Analytics based in South Africa will be speaking at WAGE 16 conference on “Developing sponsorship strategies for gaming and eSport properties in Africa”. He is set to educate attendees on how to raise sponsorship for your esports tournament.

With foreign experts predicting Mobile Esport to be the next frontier, this is a session not to be missed.



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