By Bonface Orucho
Game developers are blending music soundtracks from the continent and replicating narratives from African films in a bid to increase their cultural appeal among gaming enthusiasts.
Popular West African music genres, Afrobeats, and the Nollywood film category are emerging as favourites, with game developers from the continent and beyond looking to tap into their extensive consumer appeal to drive downloads and revenues.
A new report by Nigerian gaming studio, Maliyo, explains that this could fuel the gaming industry in Africa because “entertainment and culture are closely knit factors that influence social behavior and norms.”
“Over a relatively short period of time, new avenues for collaboration between markets and sectors have emerged,” the authors of the Africa Games Industry Report 2024 highlight.
A 2023 report by research firm Newzoo forecasts that the value of games sold in Africa will cross the US$1 billion mark for the first time next year.
The same report shows the number of gamers in Africa, excluding those in North Africa, was more than 186 million in 2021, more than double the 77 million gamers in 2015.
With growing interest in gaming driven by young subscribers, popular music tracks from the continent and narratives from the film industry could fast-track the sector’s appeal.
According to the report by Maliyo, “the recent rise and popularity of African cultural and creative products across genres may be a new lucrative avenue for economic development and wider societal prosperity.”
Nigeria, home to both Afrobeats and Nollywood, is a vibrant gaming market generating close to US$250 million a year in revenues in 2022, according to Newzoo, the largest share for any single country on the continent.
Afrobeats artists have been making a global impact in recent years, with some, like Rema and C’Kay, hitting record-high numbers on streaming platforms. This year, both have attained over a billion streams on the Spotify platform.
The track so some of the continent’s biggest names in music already feature in major international games.
In 2020, Burna Boy’s track ‘Gettin Money’ was made the official track of GTA’s ‘The Cayo Perico Heist’ an online game adventure. ‘Killin’ Dem,’ a 2019 collaboration track of his alongside Zlatan, made it to Grand Theft Auto’s playlist for their ‘iFruit’ edition. Another Nigerian track, ‘Naira Marley’ by Opotoyi, is also one of the tracks added to this edition.
In the same year, Fireboy DML’s single “Party Scatter” was made the soundtrack for FIFA 21, a football simulation game.
Most recently, Rema’s ‘Calm Down’ has been among the 41 tracks on the Just Dance 2024 song list. Just Dance is a rhythm game series by Ubisoft, a French video game publisher.
Beyond music, Africa’s film industry, especially Nollywood, could also influence future game developments on the continent.
In May 2023, Nigerian game development companies Play Network Studios and Blue Portal launched the Aki and Pawpaw Epic Run game. The mobile game application is an adaptation of a 2002 Nollywood comedy featuring Nigerian film stars Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme.
Kristian Roberts, CEO of Nordicity, which contributed to the report’s creation, as reported by gamesindustry.biz, believes that the rich diversity of communities, cultural groups, and languages across the continent provides an opportunity for new and unique game IPs.
“The underlying premise of the whole report is that there’s massive market potential for games in Africa,” gamesindustry.biz reported him as saying during the report launch on December 1 on the sidelines of the 6th edition of Africa Games Week.
“We all already know, of course, that cultural content in Africa is supported around the world, from music to film to fashion, astronomy, arts. The world consumes African cultural content. The fundamental question is: What about games?”
bird story agency