African video game development studios are making Africa-inspired games and telling stories that let gamers play as African characters.
Some games are based on traditional African folklore while others are based on modern-day situations that resonate with gamers on the continent and in the diaspora.
Players can relate to characters, cultures, and surroundings that come from a place of authenticity and experience.
These studios are part of a burgeoning African industry that was valued at $570 million in 2018. In 2014, the industry was worth $105 million. This represents more than 500 percent growth in four years.
Here are 10 game developers that are growing the industry in Africa.
A company credited with many firsts, game development studio Leti Arts was one of the first startups funded by African tech incubator Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology. Founder Eyram Tawia is one of the first mobile game developers to emerge from Ghana. The Ghana-based startup, which has an office in Kenya, produces mobile games, comics and other artwork focused on the creation of African superheroes. Leti Arts’ flagship games have been “Africa’s Legends” and “Reawakening”, both set in a cosmic superhero universe inspired by African folklore, according to Techpoint.
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.
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Johannesburg-based game development firm Nyamakop was founded by South Africans Cukia Kimani and Ben Myres in 2015 after the two graduated from college. In July 2018, the indie game studio released “Semblance”, a puzzle-platformed game published by Dutch video game publisher Good Shepherd Entertainment. The company has been described as “one of the most promising studios in African game development” by gaming review website Polygon.
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
Lagos-based Maliyo Games is a Nigerian gaming studio that was founded in 2012 by Hugo Obi and Oluseye Soyode-Johnson. Maliyo Games focuses on creating games that a Nigerian audience can identify with through graphics and culture. In May 2019, Maliyo Games partnered with European digital monetization firm offering a bundle of Africa-themed mobile games to users across six African countries, ITNewsAfrica reported.
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— Maliyo.com (@maliyoapp) January 14, 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.
ChopUp is a Nigerian mobile game development studio that develops games that tell the African narrative. Its games include “Ebola Strike Force”, which follows the story of researchers and scientists who want to save humanity from the deadly virus, and “The Sambisa Assault”, which gives gamers the opportunity to join the fight against terrorism, according to Quartz.
@Chopup_games (Nigeria) The company creates world-class games rooted in African themes and stories. ChopUp’s flagship game series, Danfo, has a fan base of over 700,000 gamers in Nigeria, and is also played in the#UNICONAFRICA #AfricanCreatives #Africangames #AfricanVideogames pic.twitter.com/gRw7cklbHX
— uniconafrica (@uniconafrica) August 4, 2018
Weza Interactive Entertainment
Weza Interactive Entertainment is a game development firm in Nairobi which aims to create “games for Africa that inspire, empower, educate and entertain.” The company also has an office in Lille, France. Founded in 2016, the company’s flagship game, “Mzito”, a platformed adventure game where the user goes on an epic adventure to save Africa.
Sea Monster Entertainment
South Africa’s Sea Monster Entertainment is a company that uses animation, games and augmented reality to create marketing solutions for clients, with a particular focus around financial education and entrepreneurship. The company has been more focused on creating games and gamified products for corporate clients than producing games for the mass market.
The oldest company on this list, Tunisia’s DigitalMania was launched in 2012 by Walid Sultan as the country’s first game development firm. Digitalmania has released more than 85 games on Facebook and mobile app platforms including Google Play and Apple store. In August 2019, the game development studio showcased its most recent indie game creation, “Warshmellows” at global games industry conference, Gamescom in Germany.