MWWA2013 Day Two: Are game developers on another planet?

In the midst of the multitude of presentations made at yesterday at Mobile Web West Africa 2013, the session for game developers stood out as the most interesting and informative.

In spite of the barrage of digital jargon, participants at the session realised that to produce successful games such as Farmville and Angry Birds, no exceptional logistics is required apart from taking risks.

Kevin Schuster, business development fellow at the MEST Incubator in the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, Ghana, spoke at length on the various concepts Leti Games, one of the startups under MEST Incubator, is developing.

He also paid respect to the two companies he described as the pioneers of digital (web and mobile) gaming in Africa – Maliyo Games and Kuluya, both of which were represented at the session by their founders.

While Hugo Obi, co-founder of Maliyo Games, presented his brand as one developed by Nigerians in the diaspora, Kunle Ogungbamila, chief executive officer of Kuluya, kept emphasising that everything about Kuluya is made in Nigeria.

According to Ogungbamila, while all the developers working on Kuluya’s games were recruited in Nigeria, they did not all come ready and they had to undergo retraining for them to become well grounded in the art of gaming.

He discussed why the gaming sector in Africa is still at its infant stage.

According to him, successful games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops, Farmville and Angry Birds gulped several millions of dollars each over a long period of incubation.

Game developers in Africa do not have access to such enormous investments and years of waiting.

“Even if we have that kind of money, we can’t put it all on one game. What if it fails?” he said.

He advised game developers to think of ways they can commercialise their games before even embarking on the project. He added this would give them the right perspective on how to pursue their project.

“We launched with 16 games. We believed that if one doesn’t succeed at least some of them will,” he said.

They also spoke extensively on ways of commercialising games in Africa.

While several options were presented and postulated, the most reliable still remains corporate branding which all speakers believed is helping the various gaming companies.

Schuster however raised the most controversial issue about the potential of gaming in Africa when he said it had the potential of generating more revenues than music and movies put together.

One delegate reacted by saying: “This guy doesn’t have an idea of how enormous music and movies have become in Africa.”

No matter how optimistic the gaming world in Africa could be about their products, a larger proportion of the African public still do not take gaming serious, but they are addicted to music.

Game developers need to address the demography and make them addicted to games like they are addicted to music and movies because while movies and music are real, games, for now in Africa, remain fictitious.

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