Back in the day, the easiest access to games for many Nigerians were the PS1 and PS2 consoles at a football viewing center or the barbershop. Unable to afford these pricey video games, the average gamer relied on these public spaces for their favorite pastime which meant the country’s gaming industry at the time was solely dependent on the people in wealthy neighbourhoods who could afford to buy these games. Commenting on the previous state of the local video gaming industry, Ukeme Okuku, CEO and Co-Founder Gamic Guild says, “In the past, the infrastructure and access was limited. Many people could not find an enabling environment to participate. Many people in Africa and the emerging markets were excluded from the economic ecosystem, essentially, they were getting the short end of the stick.”
Fast forward to 2022, where more people can afford to get the games of their dreams at home whenever they want. With increasing internet penetration and smartphones, internet-based mobile games have also become popular in the country. As a result, the number of gamers continues to grow exponentially across the country and the continent. According to a 2021 study by a games analytics company called Newzoo and Carry1st, a South African gaming platform, the number of gamers in sub-Saharan Africa has risen from 77 million people in 2015 to 186 million. Some of this growth can be attributed to the lockdowns in the thick of the COVID pandemic. Stuck indoors, with little to do, more people, including young Nigerians, caught the gaming bug.
Enter The Play2earn Revolution
Prior to this model, you had the free-to-play option on your games like Candy Crush or freemium console games like Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite. Then there is the pay-to-play option which means you have to pay for additional content on mobile games or to download certain games on your console. Research shows that an estimated 63 million of 186 million gamers across Africa pay for games, which means a lot of people were spending money with nothing in return except for the thrill of the games as most African gamers were unable to make money from gaming like their foreign counterparts.
“Previously, to earn from playing games, several hurdles were in place, you would have needed to be a live streamer with a sizable following online,” says Ukeme of Gamic Guild. “This phased out method required a lot of setup and dedication which was somewhat capital intensive and unattainable by the average joe.”
This has changed with the play2earn model employed by platforms like Gamic Guild. By offering gamers a decentralized platform with a diverse catalog of NFT games to play, they provide an alternative source of revenue for game developers and investors. With the play2earn revolution, an average gamer with just a mobile phone can earn an income without having to worry about fancy equipment, sponsorships or a huge online following.
Explaining how this works, the Okuku says, “Gamic is a guild focused on giving users a diverse catalog of blockchain-powered games to play. We also offer an alternative source of revenue for gamers by investing and aggregating play-to-earn NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) gaming assets, which are then offered to players, who can generate income for themselves and the collective.”
On the importance of platforms like this, he added, “With a 45% unemployment rate, the Gamic guild movement represents not just a lifeline but a revolutionary new model of employment. We are the shovel makers in this gold rush, we call it “Game for a Greater Cause”, by providing access to income-earning opportunities through gaming, we will be proffering real-life solutions to income dearth and inequality as well as positively impacting the lives of millions of motivated individuals in the African emerging market.”
Other notable platforms using this model include Metaverse Magna (MVM), the largest crypto-gaming community in Africa that allows people to earn up to $1000 a month playing crypto games. With this new model, it is no wonder that the video games market in Nigeria, formerly valued at $67 million in 2018, is estimated to reach $176 million by 2023 by Statista.
Outside of Nigeria, Usiku Games Africa which is a Kenyan based Social Impact gaming company is also creating opportunities for gamers to earn money. “We are looking at ways of having financial mechanisms built into the games where people can either earn or spend in a more transparent manner,” Usiku Games founder and chief executive officer Jay Shapiro says.
The adoption of digital currencies by the gaming space is the logical next step considering the fact that Africa and the Middle East have a combined 5.9 million gamers owning crypto, according to Newswagg’s report. “There’s an immense potential for crypto to be more involved in the gaming industry,” the report notes.
Since the introduction of this model and the growing adoption of NFTs and digital currencies, more gamers, developers and investors have another reason to be interested in this industry. This is already paying off with companies like Carry1st raising $2.5 million led by CRE Venture capital to support and invest in-game publishing across Africa back in May 2020.
South Africa currently leads the video gaming market with 24 million gamers, followed by Ghana with 27% of their population into gaming. Nigeria is third with 23%. With the ongoing interest in video games, the play2earn model and the general revolution of the industry, Nigeria and the rest of Africa is set to be the world’s fastest-growing video game market.