Africa has definitely taken the digital pulse. With steadily increasing internet penetration rates over the past decade, as well as an increase in startups that specialize in developing solutions of this type, the adage that the illiterate is the one who does not know using a computer seems to be justified.
However, there is one activity that seems to be struggling to find a place in this space where entities of all sizes are now flocking: gaming. This activity, which could easily be presented as the unloved of digital in Africa, nevertheless has interesting potential on several levels.
1. Gaming: what it is
The term “gaming” refers to video games. It is an anglicism that refers to everything related to electronic games, regardless of the device used to practice: phone, tablet, computer or game consoles. The same term is used to designate the practice of those who play video games and, by extension, the various related activities.
Gaming is therefore practiced by those called “gamers”. This title is not, however, attributable to every practitioner. It seems that it is the regularity of the practice that confers this title on the player. The gamer is therefore someone who devotes time to it. Gaming competitions are now considered a sport. We are talking about e-sport.
There are now international tournaments on several games that include combat, real time strategy, car racing, first person shooters, and more. But still, gaming is now on such a scale that the finals, which often see brand-sponsored players competing against each other, take place in amphitheatres, in large, packed performance halls!
This indicates a relatively well established and naturally revenue-generating video game industry.
2. The global video game industry
Nintendo, Sega and Sony. Three entities that dominate the global video game industry and make colossal sums of money each year. The games and consoles developed are each time expected as blockbuster releases in the cinema, and the collaboration between firms with formerly strong competition now allows gamers to enjoy the games they want on the platforms and consoles of their choice. .
But again, the diversification of possible gaming platforms also allows developers of all stripes to find a place for themselves, as long as their games correspond to the expectations of gamers, who are of all ages (in 2018, in France, the average the age of gamers was 39 years, for a turnover of 4.9 billion euros for the sector!).
The diversification of media also allows reuse and increased exploitation of the various games developed, which start from the original version towards variations in augmented reality, in casino games, or even towards adaptations to the cinema (adaptation which is also done in the meaning, from cinema to video games). This is without forgetting the gadgets and other derivative products which have been a hit with various generations and marked them with the memories they bring back.
3. An “industry” still timid on the continent but with real potential
Video game studios are starting to multiply in Africa (the first independent studio is nevertheless established in 1994 in South Africa), the continent only accounts for 1% (2018) of the world market (310 million dollars per year in 2018 and up to 642 million potential by 2021). There is a real will to exploit this sector which is a “sub-section” of the entertainment industry in a different way. This desire is materialized by a few more or less known actors on the continent.
South Africa takes the lead in video game consumption, alongside Nigeria and Egypt. The potential gaming market in Africa is 500 million people who learn new technologies every day. Conventions and events around gaming are already being organized on a more or less regular basis, attracting neophytes and renowned gamers from the continent. The objective: to transmit the “fever” of gaming and expose the potential of the sector and the various related professions.
Besides that, the African cultural richness gives possibilities of demarcation to African video games, noting the fact that the studios which have made the most talk are precisely those which have bet on local singularities to develop their games. However, the latter must be internationally attractive, in order to be consumed outside African borders. While current data does not allow a clear assessment of the number of jobs that the activity could generate in the coming years, we still retain the figure of 2 million jobs in new technologies over the next 5 years ( 2019).
Reflection is ongoing in Africa, as is the search for investors who can see the potential and take the risk. As the continent is essentially mobile, the trend seems to be turning towards the development of games for mobile and computer, however, gaming consoles are visibly relegated to the background (estimates point to a loss of consoles market share in favor of mobile ). The other important issue remains the monetization of said games, the banking rate remaining relatively low in Africa, dominated by the use of mobile money.