Exploring the Booming Video Game Market in Nigeria and Africa | The guardian of culture
Back then, the easiest access to games for many Nigerians was the PS1 and PS2 consoles at a football viewing center or the barber shop. Unable to afford these expensive video games, the average gamer relied on these public spaces for their favorite pastime, which meant that the country’s gaming industry at the time depended solely on those residents of wealthy neighborhoods who could afford to buy these games. Commenting on the previous state of the local gaming industry, Ukeme Okuku, CEO and Co-Founder of Gamic Guild, said, “In the past, infrastructure and access were limited. Many people could not find an environment conducive to participation. Many people in Africa and in emerging markets were excluded from the economic ecosystem, essentially they were given the small end of the stick.
Fast forward to 2022, where more people can afford to have their dream games at home whenever they want. With the increase in internet and smartphone penetration, internet-based mobile games have also become popular in the country. As a result, the number of players continues to grow exponentially across the country and the continent. According to a 2021 study by a game analytics company called Newzoo and Porter1st, a South African gaming platform, the number of gamers in sub-Saharan Africa has increased from 77 million people in 2015 to 186 million. Some of this growth can be attributed to the lockdowns at the heart of the COVID pandemic. Stuck inside, with little to do, more and more people, including young Nigerians, have caught the gambling bug.
Join the Play2earn revolution
Prior to this model, you had the free play option on your games like Candy Crush or freemium console games like Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite. Then there is the pay-to-play option which means you have to pay for additional content on mobile games or to download certain games to your console. Research shows that around 63 million of the 186 million gamers across Africa pay for games, meaning many people were spending money with nothing in return except for the thrill of the games, as most African players were not able to make money from games like their foreign counterparts.
“Previously, to win while playing games, several obstacles were in place, you would have had to be a live streamer with a sizable following online,” says Ukeme of Gamic Guild. “This method of phasing out required a lot of setup and dedication, which was somewhat capital intensive and unattainable by the average Joe.”
This changed with the play2earn model used by platforms like Gamic Guild. By offering gamers a decentralized platform with a diverse catalog of NFT games to play, they provide an alternative source of revenue for game developers and investors. With the play2earn revolution, an average gamer with just a cell phone can earn an income without having to worry about fancy equipment, referrals, or a huge online following.
Explaining how it works, the Okuku says, “Gamic is a guild that aims to provide users with a diverse catalog of blockchain-powered games to play. We also offer an alternative source of income for players by investing and aggregating NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) game assets which are then offered to players, who can generate income for themselves and the collective.
On the importance of platforms like this, he added, “With an unemployment rate of 45%, the Gamic guild movement represents not only a lifeline but a revolutionary new model of employment. We are the shovel makers in this gold rush, we call it “Gambling for a greater cause”, by providing access to revenue generating opportunities through gaming, we will provide concrete solutions to the revenue shortage and inequality, while positively impacting the lives of millions of motivated individuals in Africa’s emerging market.
Other notable platforms using this pattern include Metaverse Magna (MVM), the largest crypto-gaming community in Africa that allows people to earn up to $1000 per month playing crypto games. With this new model, it’s no wonder that the video game market in Nigeria, once valued at $67 million in 2018, is estimated to grow to $176 million by 2023 by Statista.
Outside of Nigeria, Usiku Games Africa, a Kenya-based social impact gaming company, is also creating opportunities for gamers to earn money. “We’re looking at ways to build financial mechanisms into games where people can earn or spend more seamlessly,” Usiku Games Founder and CEO Jay Shapiro said.
The adoption of digital currencies by the gaming space is the next logical step considering that Africa and the Middle East have 5.9 million players combined who own crypto, according to Newswagg’s report. “There is immense potential for crypto to become more involved in the gaming industry,” the report notes.
Since the introduction of this model and the growing adoption of NFTs and digital currencies, more and more gamers, developers and investors have another reason to be interested in this industry. This is already paying off with companies like Carry1st raising $2.5m led by CRE Venture capital to support and invest in game publishing across Africa in May 2020.
South Africa currently leads the video game market with 24 million gamers, followed by Ghana with 27% of its population in games. Nigeria is third with 23%. With the continued interest in video games, the play2earn model and the general revolution in the industry, Nigeria and the rest of Africa are expected to be the fastest growing video game market in the world.