Video game development in Africa is not one industry that you would describe as noticeable enough. But if you dug deeper, you will realise that there have been individuals and organisations that have existed for quite a while silently building games that have had an impact in modern African society, one way or another.
In countries like Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, just to mention a few, gaming has proven to be more than just playing and competing in titles that are made overseas. For more proof, these studios are part of a larger faction that was once valued at $103 million in 2014, growing to $570 million 4 years later.
That incredible 500% growth is one that was achieved even with the little recognition that is there to date. These studios have widely been known for standing out to build games that tell unique African stories. This is through African characters and backstories based on African folklore.
So who are these developers that are growing the industry?
Black Division Games
This silent group of developers may not be a famous one but what it has developed definitely is. Based in Kenya, Black Division bras off being the first studio to build a 3D video game. The game titled, Nairobi X, was released in 2015, received with a lot of joy by the gaming audience in Kenya and beyond. This was not just because of the fact that it was 3D but because it was developed to tell a unique modern Kenyan story.
We have reviewed the game before and it is no doubt that the group achieved a great feat even with the limited resources they had.
Formerly known as Leti Games, the Ghanaian group of game developers is one credited with many firsts. It was one of the first startups to be funded by African tech incubator Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology. Founded by one of Africa’s pioneers, Eyram Tawia, Leti Games is one that has been slowly extending boundaries even to Kenya, now as Leti Arts.
The studio is one also know for specialising in comic book stories that tell stories of African superheroes and more. It is one that even attracted one of Kenya’s first game developers, Wesley Kirinya to join and to have a chance of continuing to grow the industry in Africa.
Cameroonian game development studio Kiro’o Games is the company behind Africa-themed role-playing game, “Aurion: The Legacy of the Kori-Odan”. Gamers can play as African characters in Africa-inspired storylines thanks to the Afro-centric games the company creates. Kiro’o Games is described as the first video game studio in francophone Africa, according to BusinessCameroon.
— 234Finance (@234Finance) November 2, 2016
Gamsole is a Nigerian-born mobile game production company. Founded by Abiola Olaniran in 2012, the firm aims to create games that entertain and educate. Gamsole’s earlier games such as “Candy Connect” and “Birds Republic” were built with a focus on international consumers and featured content that was not uniquely African. That strategy changed with the more recent “Gidi Run“, which focuses on Nigerian characters and their adventures in Lagos, also known as Las Gidi. In 2018, Gamsole developed a gamified digital financial platform for Diamond Bank aimed at educating and engaging Nigerian youth on financial services, according to DisruptAfrica.
Meet Abiola Olaniran, the Founder and CEO of Gamsole – a mobile game production company. Abiola has been described as the most successful game developer in Nigeria on the Windows Phones and PC platforms in terms of game downloads and gross revenue. pic.twitter.com/z42be9IwbM
— YBLNigeria (@yblnigeria) June 23, 2018
Cape Town-based game developer Free Lives is the company behind “Bro Force”, a hypermasculine action-hero game that gained popularity when it was released in 2014. The game sold more than 250,000 copies while still in development and has since sold more than 1 million units across platforms, according to News24.
Obviously, there are more groups and individuals that have done a lot for the game development industry in Kenya and this list will no doubt continue to grow with ti,e as we discover more. We will also be digging deeper into what it takes to be part of such an industry, especially in Kenya and Africa in general.