With the obvious barriers to internet access and even an occasional blackout holding African game developers back, a new generation of entrepreneurs emerges, founding their own game development companies, and making it their mission to meet the demand to see African-centric titles and characters appear on the worldwide gaming scene.
Here are some of the best African firms out there, working on everything from augmented reality (AR) projects to mobile button bashers.
Augmented Reality Gaming Comes to Africa
Until now AR and VR games were a staple of huge tech and gaming giants from the US, Europe, and Asia, who have long been developing the games and headsets needed to make them happen, with everything from VR casinos to Pokémon Go coming from their intricate developmental pipelines.
However, when it comes to augmented reality gaming in Africa it is the Kenyan based gaming firm Internet of Elephants that leads the way, recently garnering worldwide media interest from their new game Wildeverse, which takes players into the habitats of wild animals regardless if they’re walking in their backyards or just playing at home. The game was fine-tuned by the team in the jungles of Borneo and Congo, where the developers learned all they could about the animals and habitats they wished to portray in the game.
Mobile Gaming Makes Sense for Africa
With very few of the continent’s inhabitants having access to computer terminals or steady internet connections, it makes sense that the future of gaming in Africa is likely to take place on mobile devices. It is therefore not a surprise that some of the most innovative African gaming companies are focusing their attention on the mobile sector.
Leti Arts is one of these companies, which originated in Ghana but ultimately settled in Kenya. Their flagship titles include Africa’s Legends and Reawakening, both of which draw heavily from various blends of African folklore and legend to create unique gaming experiences. This makes a welcome change from bungled appropriation leaning attempts by foreign gaming companies who tend to resort to boring stereotypes when creating Africa-themed games and characters.
For Francophone gamers, there’s a company doing similar things in Cameroon. Kiro’o Games’ main title is Aurion: The Legacy of the Kori-Odan, which looks to African cultural heritage for inspiration.
Meanwhile, many African mobile gaming companies are finding new ways to monetize their often free-to-install gaming apps. One example of this is a Nigerian company Gamsole who has partnered with Diamond Bank, that wishes to educate and engage potential new clients, knowing full well that games are a perfect vehicle for customer satisfaction. This is a trend that will no doubt grow this decade, with developers likely wishing to diversify their offerings to markets where there’s a lot of money to spend. Who knows, the next time you go to top up your phone credit or even use your Oddschecker mobile casino bonus you may find yourself coming face to face with an African-made mobile game.
African Games Demanding Space on Major Platforms
Another promising advance for budding African developers is that some have already begun to make inroads into the world’s biggest gaming platforms. This has been evidenced by South African company Nyamakop featuring their wonderful game Semblance on non-other than the Nintendo Switch, allowing gamers all over the globe to play a game whose roots are firmly planted in African soil.
Another example of this is Tunisia’s DigitalMania, one of the continent’s most experienced game design houses, who have racked up a whole backlist of games that are consistently played by millions of users on platforms as huge as Facebook, Google Play and the Apple Store.
By the time gaming producers in Europe, Asia, and the US wake up to the potential of gaming in Africa they may find they’re too late because the homegrown talent in this field is only set to grow. We’ll still have to wait for a couple of years to see if these seeds will bring fruit, but the potential is hard to ignore.