Here in 2022, West Africa is primed for a gaming revolution. The gaming market across the continent has grown substantially in the past few years, and with new developments in hardware and gaming technologies on the horizon, we’ll soon see a massive shift in terms of how West Africans are playing games and the types of games they’re playing.
In Ghana, in particular, the gaming market is expected to be worth the equivalent of $33 million US dollars by the end of 2023. With such substantial potential growth on the horizon, what does the present and future of gaming in Ghana look like?
Mobile Gaming Surges Ahead
Last decade, the vast majority of the African gaming audience was accessing games on consoles or PCs at their local cyber cafes. Then, as eSports began to pick up in popularity across the country, many gamers began searching for more accessible and cheaper ways to game. Enter the smartphone.
Mobile gaming has experienced a massive uptake across Africa in general, with the number of gamers doubling over the past five years. Thanks to affordable hardware, cheap data connections, and the proliferation of different mobile gaming apps that are downloadable from app stores, mobile gaming has mass appeal to Ghanaians that is unlikely to diminish any time soon.
The Emergence of iGaming
For decades, Ghana has been leading at the forefront of real money gaming in West Africa. This vastly popular pastime has been legislated in the country since the 1960s. Then, in 2006, the Ghana GC was established to further regulate land-based casinos and bookmakers.
While land-based gaming is still enjoyed across the globe, digital poker and casino gaming – aka iGaming – has emerged to be the most dominant segment.
As we’ve seen in the rise of mobile gaming, modern gamers prioritise convenience and accessibility, which is why online poker and casino gaming platforms are out-performing land-based venues across the globe. Platforms operating in Western markets have set the trend for what gamers expect, offering up a huge variety in terms of the gaming experiences that players can engage with. Brand new digital variants like Spin & Go tournaments, for example, have mass appeal for time-pressed players who want a quick gaming fix.
While South Africa has been the most prominent African market for iGaming adoption, we can expect West Africa to make strides over the coming years, particularly since advanced technologies like Cryptocurrencies are on the rise here in Ghana.
Harnessing the Storytelling Power of Gaming
Games are a unique medium in that they hold the potential to tell stories and preserve culture while entertaining audiences on a mass scale. Take classic board games like Monopoly, for example. Not only are these traditional games ever-lasting favourites, but they also manage to capture the zeitgeist of the eras in which they’re released.
The same is true for digital games. Even games that would be easy to dismiss as entertaining ways to pass the time are still very much of the moment, in the way that all contemporary culture is. Games like the Candy Crush Saga may not hold much value in terms of their socio-economic impact, but there’s something contained in them that still resonates with global audiences.
Until now, African gamers have had limited access to games that centre the African experience or are built here on the continent. While the region has generated annual revenues in excess of $590 million and Africa is the worlds fastest growing market in terms of mobile gaming, the games driving this have largely been Western imports.
Developers like Usiku Games Africa and Teddy Kossoko are working hard to change that. Based in Kenya, Usiku’s focus is on providing Africa with Social Impact games that utilise blockchain technology to offer new, African-centred ways of play.
Kossoko’s impact, meanwhile, is firmly within storytelling. His first venture, Kissoro Tribal Game, launched in 2018, becoming the world’s first 100% African mobile gaming app in the process. Based on the Mancala board game, Kissoro Tribal Game updated this centuries-old classic for a modern audience.
His most recent release, Golden Georges, is a mobile football game with a storyline inspored by Ballon d’Or winner George Weah.
As the entrepreneur has stated when interviewed recently, the African market as a whole is especially complex, with each country and region wanting different things from their gaming experience. However, Kossoko does “see a movement happening” both in terms of widespread gaming engagement and Africa-centric game development. It is, after all, “only a matter of time before everything changes”.