Improved internet connection, greater penetration of smartphone technology and a youthful population mean that Nigeria is at the forefront of the movement towards mobile and online gaming. In fact, Nigeria had the highest level of mobile internet usage as of 2019 and remains within the fastest growing area for mobile internet use (Africa) in 2020.
This means that mobile and online gaming enjoy enormous popularity here, over console and PC games. It’s easy to see why when you consider that, in Nigeria specifically, 83% of the populace have access to a mobile phone versus only 42% with an internet connection.
During 2020, the world as a whole has seen a sharp uptake in mobile gaming and the African continent has remained at the front of that wave. Nobody could have predicted this massive boost given to worldwide mobile and online gaming, but it has acted to bring the rest of the gaming world up to speed with the likes of Africa, India and China.
In 2020 mobile gaming suddenly became responsible for 48% of total revenue in the global gaming market, introducing a massive influx of new users to the pool and seeing play time increase for some providers by as much as 40%. Earnings for development companies are over 50% above that which was predicted by their analysts, and the sector only looks set to grow moving forward. So, how are Nigerian developers making the most of it?
As indie titles like Among Us and big names like Pokémon Go or Fortnite have had players enthralled across the planet, Nigerian games developers have been cashing in on current trends and contributing their own local twist to the online gaming world. Although, at present, it is uncertain when or even if Nigeria will adopt 5G, it is certain that mobile and online gaming is only going to get bigger and better in this country during 2021.
The user base is expansive and feels secure, and locally based development is innovative and knowledgeable of the sector. As mobile and online gaming is the trend of the moment, the rest of the world will be looking at established markets like Nigeria for inspiration.
Mobile and online gaming have long been favourites in Nigeria, with tech-savvy, well informed users recognising the quality of a good title and rejecting those that are sub-par. Now, local games developers like Kuluya, Gamsole and ChopUp are building successful games influenced by their Nigerian heritage yet appealing to overseas users across the planet.
Monkey Post, Jagun: Clash of Kingdoms and Gidi Run are all titles that have enjoyed success both at home and abroad, with their Nigerian influence gaining favour with both a domestic audience and a foreign one. However, local developers are keen to create even more inclusive titles at the same time as honouring the Nigerian culture. They are looking to popular online games in South Africa, audiences in Kenya, and the gaming market further afield for new ideas and inspiration, with a view to creating truly global gaming titles.
So, What Next?
The mobile and online gaming market shows no signs of slowing down now that the ball is rolling. Services like Google Stadia, Apple Arcade, Playstation Now and Xbox Live are gearing up to ensure that players who prefer more traditional gaming on PCs and consoles can make the switch to online and mobile services without losing access to their best loved titles.
In a world where entertainment is increasingly required to be remotely accessible or available on the go, mobile and internet gaming is where smart people are putting their money. The fact that Nigeria’s homegrown gaming scene has primarily existed in a mobile format for its entire lifespan can only stand the country in good stead moving forward. How this plays out on a global scale, however, remains to be seen.