Gone are the days when internet cafes were a hot spot for African gamers. During this time, consoles were the main element for playing these games which were usually foreign creations and young male adults dominated the patronage.
Today, the evolution of smartphones has made it easy for one to play his or her favourite video games anywhere with most characters, assets, and even languages adopting African characteristics.
The most recent trend is the growing availability and popularity of multi-functional gaming consoles, which are emerging in the market and helping in growing the market of video games in the region.
Due to this, the number of gamers in Africa has witnessed significant growth over the past five years. The Covid-19 pandemic is said to have contributed massively to this growth which has affected all other aspects of the gaming market.
South Africa leads the gaming industry in Africa
A 2021 study commissioned by Newzoo, a games analytics company and Carry1st, a South African gaming platform, shows the number of gamers in sub-Saharan Africa. currently stands at 186 million people, an increase from 77 million in 2015.
With 24 million gamers, South Africa currently stands as the country with the largest video game markets in Africa having 40% of the population playing video games. with this, the video game market is gradually creeping in to overtake the market in movies and music in the country.
Ghana (27%) and Nigeria (23%) are in second and third places respectively. Kenya and Ethiopia finish fourth and fifth in the continent with 22% and 13% of their population into gaming respectively.
these figures are likely to explode in the coming years as more investment plans keep trooping into Africa's gaming industry. For instance, In May 2020, Carry1st, a gaming development startup, announced that it had raised an investment of USD 2.5 million led by CRE Venture capital to support and invest in-game publishing across Africa.
Developers are now adding new elements, with ownership being the latest addition allowing gamers to own characters and assets within the games- leveraging on blockchain technology.
A Kenyan based Social Impact gaming company, Usiku Games Africa, is pioneering the new era of blockchain gaming in the country where the rising number of tech-savvy youth could soon start earning from the industry boom.
“We are looking at ways of having financial mechanisms built into the games where people can either earn or spend in a more transparent manner,” Usiku Games, Jay Shapiro, founder and the chief executive officer says.
Under this new model, while gamers will still enjoy the thrill in gaming, they will not be able to directly cash-out earnings like in gambling.
"Gaming in Africa is exploding. Crucially, this applies not only to people playing games but also those willing to pay as well."
Instead, enforced savings mechanisms have been developed to redirect the earnings towards long-term saving instruments like pension schemes, health, and education insurance – helping to shore up low savings culture among youth in Africa and build up their financial resilience.
“The reality is that even if you have a job or an income, a little bit of savings maybe, all that may be washed away by saying a pandemic, climate change or injury in the family,” said Shapiro.
Digital currencies in Africa and gaming
The gaming industry is also bringing millions of dollars for countries per year.
Already, 63 million of the 186 million gamers, pay for games with these African figures projected to be the fastest-growing in the world as the continent adopts digital currencies.
Another study by Newswagg’s points to a growing appetite for trading in gaming assets using digital currencies with 38% of 41.9 million gamers owning crypto across the world being millennials aged 21-38 years old.
Africa and the Middle East have a combined 5.9 million gamers owning crypto, with a potential to shore up these numbers in Africa given that the continent will have one of the largest youthful population by 2050 ( 50% growth).