Q&A With CEOs of Africa’s Rising Gaming Industry

Written by Veronica Pamoukaghlian

LETI ARTS: Africa has several strong competitive advantages in the gaming industry, if leveraged
properly. As a nascent territory for gaming, the potential for growth, is enormous compared to matured gaming markets. There is huge untapped market potential in the areas of training and recruiting talent; licensing and distributing content; licensing for branding and merchandising. Investments usually flow where there is the potential for biggest returns and economic gain.

Therefore this huge potential for growth is a big competitive advantage for the African gaming market. Mobile is the new frontier in gaming and all trends point to mobile being the largest platform for gaming medium to long term.

Africa is the fastest growing region in the mobile industry globally. This therefore gives Africa a strong comparative advantage in the industry as most gaming in Africa will occur on mobile devices. Another strong competitive advantage for Africa is its growing middle class. Large numbers of Africans are suddenly reaching middle income status, which brings with it growing disposable incomes.

Entertainment, of which gaming is a component, is likely to be one of the areas benefiting from this growth. There is already evidence of this as more teens and young adults acquire smartphones and start to discover gaming and entertainment on these devices.

Africa is also at the forefront of another growing trend in technology and gaming, mobile payments. More and more Africans are being exposed to mobile payments as the de facto means of paying for goods and services.

This trend provides another strong competitive advantage for Africa over developed markets where adoption of mobile payments is being resisted by consumers. Mobile and Telecom industries have proven this. Africans will use it so long as it is introduced.

AFKI: Are African video games different from Western games in theme and scope?

KIRO´O: Different yes, but the recipe is the same, we take our past, present, maybe future life and we put it into game with more or less fantasy. That’s the main recipe for the mobiles games designed on the continent for the local market. Now, we want to create an African Fantasy called KIRO’O TALES. We want to take African themes and give them a universal appeal. For example, in our game AURION, the construction of the initiatic path of our hero has to do with the quest for “inner force” rather than “brute force,” that is, the hero will not try to become stronger but to become a better version of himself; stronger as a consequence, not as a cause.

AFKI: How would you define your local target audience?

LETI ARTS: Our target audiences are kids between 6-12 who love superheroes and have active imaginations (better for them to be African heroes than Western heroes) and Teens, Young Adults and Adults between 13-35 who are already devoted fans of this type of entertainment content and are therefore likely to be interested in African superheroes.

KIRO´O: Curious and very enthusiastic. They are very excited about the idea of playing games with characters they can identify themselves with. But hardcore gamers are also very critical and demanding. If the games we design are not top notch, they will not like them just because they have African themes. One of the biggest problems is pricing. African gamers don’t have enough buying power, so, they can’t afford a 60 Euro game, even if they want to. Some can, but not everyone. However, our lower production costs allow us to create games that Africans can afford.

AFKI: Do you find enough human resources for the gaming industry locally?

KIRO´O: Yes. In Cameroon, there are a lot of great IT schools, and a lot of talented artists. So, we have programmers and illustrators. We have amazing sound pros. The hardest part was to professionalize the artists, because they were not used to a studio´s rhythm and pressing deadlines, but we pulled it off, because they were highly motivated.

LETI ARTS: No. This is one of the main challenges we have, which we solve by training passionate people through internships. We have always been committed to growing an entire industry and not just building a game company. We therefore accept and train interns across multiple technical disciplines including graphic & creative artists, programmers, story writers, sound engineers and marketing.