E-gaming is emerging in Kenya and East Africa as an industry, delivering revenue growth of over 25% a year. The ever-expanding industry has seen African games and gamers move into the global arena.
The sport is a growing phenomenon worldwide, expected to generate $125.4 billion this year, up 15% since 2017. It is set to attract over 190 million gamers, according to an analysis dubbed the Global Games Market Report.
“But in the region, the growth is now greater still, spawned by an emerging ecosystem of gaming communities and organisations, including the Africa Game Developers Community, the continent’s first game developers and friends’ community, with its roots in East Africa,” Liquid Telecom Chief Technology and Innovations Officer, Ben Roberts explained in a recent address.
Roberts has cited a number of enterprises bolstering the sector’s growth, including Africa Game Developers, an initiative of Ludique Works, led by innovators, Douglas Ogeto, Nathan Masyuko and Lillian Nduati. Started in January 2018, it already has over 150 members across 12 countries, including Kenya Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Zambia, and Ghana, spearheading the commercialisation of games developed in Africa.
Together with Liquid Telecom, the community is holding monthly meetings covering development demos, talks, and game showcasing. Games built by members include The Orchard and Recce Squad in Kenya, and Kukulu in Ethiopia.
The Orchard’s David Kamunyu is a self-taught game developer whose game is a slow-paced PC game that requires logic and foresight to restore an inherited farm to its original state.
“The game is not as straightforward as it sounds. The player has to manage their health and well-being, follow the Kenyan seasons for successful crop and animal yields, and play the market to get the highest profits – or earn elsewhere to make ends meet,” said Roberts in a recently-issued statement.
Towards the end of 2017, The Orchard was recognised in two international events, including ‘A Maze’ an affair held in Johannesburg in South Africa, which showcases independent and alternative games and virtual realities, and ‘The Game Mixer’, organised by the Goethe Institut, Johannesburg to promote professional exchanges between game developers.
David also emerged as one of the top five game developers in the Digital Lab Africa Competition.
Another rising East African gaming developer is Cukia Kimani, from Kenya, who is currently in Johannesburg pursuing degrees in Computer Sciences, Maths and Digital Arts.
In 2015, Cukia won the ‘A Maze’ award for his game, Boxer, which he created with a colleague game designer, Ben Crooks. The game has been selected in several international awards including the Utrecht Indigo Awards 2016, Chicago Bit Bash 2016, and Birmingham Leftfield collection 2016.
According to Roberts, gaming tournaments are also now on the rise in the region.
“NAICCON 2017 was Africa’s first international multiplayer video game tournament, with a total of 16 PC and console gaming teams from Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya,” said Roberts referring to a bi-annual Comics, Cosplay, Trivia and Film Entertainment event held in Nairobi, Kenya.
The event drew over 3,500 creative minds in the animation, gaming and comic book industries.
This year, Nairobi also saw the largest gaming prize pool yet, of Ksh1 million (about $10,000), at the second regional E-Sports convention organised by Pro Series Gaming (PSG) Tournament and featuring Mortal Kombat XL, a famous fighting game from US-based NetherRealm Studios.
“At the same time, PC gaming is moving into theatres, offering fans, supporters, enthusiasts and newcomers dedicated stages complete with LED screens and live commentary and generating a new source of revenue for event organisers, cinema owners, and sound and video agencies,” Roberts added.
“This entire gaming ecosystem has created an abundance of job opportunities, for 3D modellers, animators, music composers, sound effect creators, User Interface (UI) modellers, customer support staff and others,” he continued.
As this new array of activity has intensified, Liquid Telecom has played a continuous role in promoting e-gaming.
“For the past four years, we have sponsored a Ugandan gaming community, gamersnights.com, which is a multiplayer video gaming community, hosting its gaming servers and providing its connectivity, which is critical for seamless online video gaming,” Roberts said.
Liquid Telecom has also been the connectivity partner for all of the region’s major gaming tournaments, providing technical and connectivity support to achieve modern age video gaming experiences.
“Our gaming-quality internet of up to 400Mbps enabled streaming and a gaming LAN Party at NAICCON’s first international multiplayer video game tournament last year,” Roberts noted.
“We have provided this support because we understand that e-gaming is an industry that will bring jobs and growth to the region, both as a competitive sport that is attracting professional gamers and through local content generation,” he quipped.
He concluded that with an internet infrastructure that is now running ahead of many regions globally, East Africa is positioned to lead the way in developing Africa’s online gaming ecosystem.