The emergence of mobile as a legitimate platform for video games has been transforming the landscape of the gaming industry in Africa. As mobile usage in Africa greatly outweighs that of computers, technological developments have had profound effects on the types of entertainment and games available — games that were previously only available on consoles are now at the fingertips of millions of African gamers.
More affordable mobile tech and widespread internet have many implications for all industries, and it also means that more Africans than ever are looking to their mobiles for entertainment. It’s no surprise then that the mobile gaming industry in Africa goes from strength to strength — it’s expected to be worth $1 billion next year.
It isn’t an understatement to say that mobile technology has revolutionised communication in Africa, perhaps more profoundly so than in more developed regions of the world. Countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya have boasted fairly sophisticated networks for some time, but other areas of Sub-Saharan Africa are now making rapid progress too.
As the continent leapfrogs traditional infrastructure challenges, mobile phones have become more affordable and widely available. This has allowed a broader segment of the population to access gaming, amongst many other online services, transcending geographical limitations — areas once considered too remote for landlines now have coverage and internet access.
Africa’s population is the youngest of any continent, and this is reflected in their widespread adoption of mobile technology — not just mobile games but also payment methods and other services that support the gaming industry. Young people not only push the limits of technology, they also demand the kind of convenience that mobile tech affords.
Convenience and flexibility are major factors that contribute to the popularity of mobile gaming in Africa. Africans, like many others globally, appreciate the ability to engage in their favourite games at any time and from anywhere. Whether commuting, waiting in line, or relaxing at home, Africa’s gamers have console classics and mobile-first games at their fingertips 24/7.
Mobile gamers the world over have no shortage of games to enjoy, and although there are definite global trends, each region has its favourites. Here are a few genres that Africans are enjoying in particular.
One area of gaming in Africa that has seen an unprecedented boom is online gambling. Millions of Africans now flock to online casinos to enjoy poker, roulette, and blackjack, which often have live-dealer options. Many casinos have dedicated mobile apps which harness the power of mobile tech to provide an ever more enjoyable and immersive experience. Alongside live dealer options, slots come in all shapes and sizes, and now feature advanced graphics and gameplay.
Role-playing games have been popular even before video gaming existed, and are one of the most enduring genres. Africans love playing classics that have made the migration onto the mobile platform such as Moonshades, Final Fantasy, and Zelda, alongside more contemporary titles like Genshin Impact.
Probably the most popular gaming genre across all formats, shooter games have also made the most of developing mobile technology to create immersive games to rival those on consoles. Favourites include Modern Combat, Call of Duty, and PUBG which have a realistic military feel, as well as apocalyptic zombie shootouts like Into The Dead.
Africa is a sports-mad continent, and it’s no surprise that sports titles are among the most popular among mobile gamers. Football is by far and away the most popular sport on the continent, mirrored by the popularity of FIFA Mobile. The basketball game NBA 2K is also widely played, and both this and FIFA take advantage of touchscreen technology to feature increasingly intuitive controls. Other popular games in Africa include Tennis Clash and Real Cricket.
Africans love high-octane action, and there are plenty of racing games that have captured the imagination. GRID Autosport is now free and is among the best realistic racing games available on the mobile platform. Assoluto Racing is close behind, although has no online option. Mario Kart enjoys much of the same popularity in Africa that it does across the rest of the world.
Esports are beginning to take hold in some parts of Africa — mainly the more developed markets such as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Ghana. Popular Esports games also reflect worldwide trends — Counter-Strike is the most popular game, but DOTA2, League of Legends, Starcraft and Rocket League also have a foothold. Esports in Africa face challenges though — there aren’t as many internet cafes or other venues that cater for them, compared to other parts of the world. But slowly and surely Esports are becoming more popular, and expect to see the amount of Africans participating increase in the coming years.
The African gaming industry shows no sign of slowing down —a $1 billion industry, driven by a youthful, enthusiastic marketplace, looks set to grow and grow.