Developing games in Africa: “a market of 500 million users by 2030” | Pocket Gamer.biz
“Africa has the youngest demographics in the world and the penetration of our smartphones and the internet is on the rise,” Olivier Madiba, Founder and CEO of Kiro’o Games in Cameroon, told us. “There is a huge opportunity to invest in African game studios now to take the driver’s seat of a market of 500 million users by 2030.”
Africa and in particular Cameroon was one of the markets that PG Connects came under the microscope at last year’s Digitale conference. Olivier Madiba has joined a panel of publishers and developers from around the world (including Maliyo studio based in Nigeria, Flyer One Ventures which focuses on Central and Eastern Europe, and Stillfront based in Sweden but with studios all over the world) to discuss regional opportunities and challenges.
You can watch the video recording of the full panel here. But we also asked the boss of Kiro’o Games to better understand the perception of the gaming industry in Cameroon and his thoughts on the opportunities for developers in Africa. That Q&A is below.
PocketGamer.biz: What are you currently working on?
Olivier Madiba: We at Kiroo Games are working on optimizing our first Aurion Kajuta Gems Fighter mobile game with multiplayer and a play-to-earn model.
But our biggest work is that we are building the first African-themed simulation game, The Elite Of Mboa.
What advice would you give to people looking to invest, or sell games, in your area? How does someone go about finding new business partners and opportunities there if they are not based there?
My advice to investors: if you want to win here, you will have to change the paradigm.
Fantasy RPGs won’t work for African audiences because many of them didn’t have fairy tales when they were kids
Olivier Madiba, Kiro’o Games
You are used to investment being like Formula 1 in the Western ecosystem, but Africa is more like a Paris-Dakar race. It’s not how fast you can go, but how fast you can adapt again and again.
Also, I would tell people that the real African gaming market is something to be exploited and not scooped up. The data investors can see on Western aggregators are only partial and biased views of what is possible. I plan to do an article on this point in 2022.
Do games from one part of the world have a distinct character and tone? Is there a specific quality or theme to successful games in Africa?
From what we see in our social studies of African gamers, a lot of games work when they find compatible behaviors in the culture of the target.
For example, RPGs and fantasy games will not work for young adult African audiences because many of them did not have fairy tales before bed when they were children.
We believe that the most successful games in African audiences will be real-life simulations that provide fun.
How do politics and current events affect the gaming industry in a region?
Politicians here don’t have a problem with video games, but internet infrastructure can slow game adoption and updates.
We also know that some very rare countries want to charge developers to create games using national symbols.
Anyone in the world can be a developer these days. So, is the barrier to entry lower than ever – or does that just mean you’re competing with more people than ever?
Anyone can make a game today, that’s also why marketing has become 70% of the challenge. You must make your game visible and downloaded by the public.
It is also very difficult for a beginner studio to think about all the business aspects of their game before launching it. I will say that technically the barrier to entry is lower, but marketing-wise it’s more competitive than ever.
If you want to win here, change the paradigm. It’s not how fast you can go, it’s how fast you can adapt
Olivier Madiba, Kiro’o Games
What is the perception of “game developer” as a career in your region? Is the gaming industry growing with respect, in every generation?
At the moment there are very few children aware that the development of play exists in our region. But when a child realizes it, he wants to do it! What we’re trying to do is show them the reality of all the hard work beyond passion.
The game is an elite place; it will be difficult to get two million gaming jobs in one country one day. But the game can be used to fund other businesses, at least that’s our view of Kiroo.
What other parts of the world are you watching closely right now? Which emerging markets should our audience consider?
I have a certain interest in the South American market where great things are happening as well as in the North African market.
Many thanks to Olivier Madiba for his insight into Cameroon and Africa. Global Trends Roundtables are an important part of all our industry events and you can find where the latest event is at www.pgconnects.com and you can watch talks you missed at www.videovault. business.