2017 Review of the Nigerian Gaming Industry


This post is long overdue, but it's better late than never, right? Anyways, writing this was supposed to be like the 2016 year in review post but honestly nothing much happened last year that I really took cognisance of, and I also wanted to try another style for this write-up. For 2017, I'd be focusing on major events, indies and the remaining pioneer gaming studios still in business. So then, let's get right to it. First up is...

Maliyo

2017 Review

Maliyo had a solid year in 2017 with the launch of MonaPay and the Maliyo Marketplace. After their comeback in 2016 and my numerous chats with Hugo Obi (Manager/CEO), they seem to look like they've shifted from their previous endeavours; making locally relatable mobile games. Hugo has always talked about two major challenges facing the local industry; Discoverability and Monetization, and last year looked like the right time for Maliyo to solve those problems. With the Maliyo Marketplace, Nigerians can now find the hottest mobile games and apps as well as locally relevant content (MadeInNaija category/section). With MonaPay, digital content providers can now accept payment from customers through their mobile airtime. With these two services, Maliyo looks to begin the year with a bang.

Maliyo Marketplace                              Monapay

2018 Prediction

I expect Maliyo are going to continue building on from last year. The Maliyo Marketplace is already gathering a good collection of apps and local content with support from the blog. While MonaPay moved from a test space to beta and also won N2 million at the African Fintech Foundry last year December. I suspect Maliyo would focus the majority of their energy on Mona Pay, with emphasis on integrating popular apps or games in Nigeria with Mona Pay. Not that the Maliyo Marketplace isn't a priority, its just lately there has been a buzzing feel about any financial tech startup in the country. In order to integrate top rated / trending apps with MonaPay, Maliyo would then have to get more telco licenses/partnerships, since currently only 9mobile is integrated. But there is word in the wind that MTN have also jumped on board with full integration expected later this month. And finally, I also expect Maliyo to implement MonaPay into all of their existing games and subsequent ones.

ChopUp

2017 Review

ChopUp released Monkey Post with the focus on it being used to reward players based on skill. With the help of Paga (one of their early investors), ChopUp decided to incorporate a way to reward players with cash while playing Monkey Post. Players would fund their Paga account with a specified amount, link the game to that account and participate in the tournament. Once the tournament's time elapses, the top three players on the leader-board emerge victorious and their cash prizes sent to their Paga wallet within 48 hours. Two things hit me immediately. First was I'd been expecting this move since investment from Paga in 2014. Second was they also had a mobile payment system earlier back in 2013 that was also called ChopUp (they were referred to as Pledge 51 at the time) and I thought that would have been the mobile payment system for game-related content on Paga. But oh well, that was way back then. I'm just glad at least one of my earlier expectations had come to fruition.

2018 Prediction

I suspect with the data gathered from last year, ChopUp would improve on the currently existing system. Maybe try and arrange challenges against frenemies (friends and enemies) and match-up players with the same skill set. I also think that they would integrate the whole tournaments and challenges feature into their other games to bring more players of different genres since every new player is also a new user for Paga. A big upgrade to their system would certainly be an improvement on the reward time from 48 hours to an hour or two because you still have to check that no one cheated. Once they see it has the potential to be a bet 9ja for gaming, they would scale and possibly flood the market (but I'm not placing any bets on that occurring this year).



Gamsole

2017 Review

Gamsole hardly had any gaming activity worth noticing last year and they seem to be deploying another strategy considering the death of the windows phone. The platform had helped Gamsole gather over 10 million downloads from a collection of mobile games, but they now have to re-strategize and focus their energy somewhere else. Possibly the Android platform, considering the release of Gidi Run in 2016 in partnership with MTN Nigeria. Anyhow, based on this video it seems like they won a contract to help Diamond Bank Nigeria build a game portal of some kind for their customers.

2018 Prediction

With not much information to go on and only a hunch, I expect them to possibly market the same portal idea to other big Nigerian banks. With the help of their animation branch which specializes in commercials and short animated stories, Gamsole should continue the bank branding thing for a while and maybe increase and expand their animation strength since they tend to combine it with the gaming portal to form one big gift basket.


Indies


2017 Review

There were one or two indie games that did very well to us here at GameDev.ng. Nothing really tore the market apart locally but the growth and polish of games are gradually increasing. Anointed and Fading brought a breath of fresh air to the market and scored high marks based on genuine story. The former is a Christian arcade game that follows the journey of Laftu, a Christian boy anointed by the Lord to expel evil forces from his homeland using the bible. The latter is a minimalist 2D platformer where you play through the mind of a man whose wife is dying of terminal illness as you uncover a story of love, pain and loss.



Anointed: Chronicles of Laftu

In terms of making a statement on the cultural aspect of the country and indeed Africa, Throne of Gods and Shakara - African Dress up and Fashion come to mind. In Shakara, you are to create your own version of an African inspired fashion studio by dressing up Kiki and her friends in beautiful fabrics, fashionable attires, and stunning accessories from across Africa. While in Throne of Gods, you battle a variety of African gods and deities in their native attire using each's own unique mythical ability all for the conquest of power.



Throne of Gods

Finally, for the cherry on top of the cake, Lukmon Agboola of Ovaplay collaborated with Pedro Cabaco and Chrirs Hildenbrand of Shattered Box to make the addictive Super Cross Bar Challenge. The game is based on the popular crossbar challenge where you should not score goals but instead hit the crossbar. The game has over 750,000 downloads on the App store worldwide and is currently on early access on the Play store.


Super Cross Bar Challenge


2018 Prediction

So the indies had some improvements last year and just like the rest of my predictions I expect it to be better this year. I'm expecting the indies to take more risk than the pioneer studios and generate more non-locally relevant genuine storylines to stimulate a larger audience. Games like Onarmed and The Gecko King are already showing promise in this direction, with more to come later in the year.



Onarmed

I do think there would be one or two indies still interested in developing locally relevant content but that might fade out until someone really cracks it. Also this year, I expect another collaboration with developers abroad, with the past two years featuring collaborations with studios/indies overseas; sighting examples from Deluxe Creation Studios and Theta Games in 2016 and Ovaplay and Shattered Box in 2017. Finally, I think indies will start sticking to their strengths and favourite genres since the same thing happens with some studios overseas.

 

2017 Review

Events were fun filled as ever with one or two gladdening news here and there. The Ultimate Gaming Show started airing during May and that in itself has shined a spotlight on not just gaming in Nigeria but also on the local developers and their lifestyle. The second edition of the African Board Game Convention (ABCON) organised by Nibcard held in Abuja, Nigeria. ABCON is the first table top gaming in West Africa with the aim of getting board games recognised as a story telling tool and teaching aid. The West African Gaming Expo (WAGE) held it's 4th edition in Lagos and the 3 day event comprising of a two day Hackathon and a one day conference and exhibition embraced attendees from all over Africa. And last but not least, our own Kevin Duerst won silver in the Street Fighter V tournament at the Festival of Electronics and Video Games (FEJA) held in Abidjan. FEJA is the biggest e-sports tournament in Africa involving 8 participating nations and was held in November. You can watch his final match up in the Street Fighter V tournament here.

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