Do African gamers buy video games?

Gara Store
6 min readMar 22, 2023

We have often been asked this question. The lack of knowledge of African gaming leads to the false conclusion that gamers do not have money.

Image by Pandhuya Niking

The reality is quite different and more complicated than that.

The mobile video game market will be worth $150 billion worldwide in 2021. Africa consists of less than 1% of this figure. This 1% is mostly generated by countries like Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco.

The 1% is a consequence of the low level of banking among the population, with about 90% of the African population lacking a bank card. Therefore, they cannot buy on the Play Store and the App Store.

But if they could, would they buy?

From 2019 to 2022, we have developed a gaming platform, GARA, which facilitates the monetization of games in Africa, with quality African and European contents. We have integrated the main payment methods available on the African continent: mobile money, sms, cash, airtime and bank card and aggregated almost all mobile money operators in the first 3 countries where we are established for testing: Senegal, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.

After 5 months of launching the beta test version of Gara and analyzing the consumption habits, here are some useful feedbacks to understand the market:

Gara since its launch, with a low budget spent (500$/month) had reached:

  • 13k new users per week
  • 26% accounts created
  • 11% of purchase of premium games & comics (Contents coming from France, US, Brazil, South Korea and many countries in Africa)

Why do 13k players install a platform, but only 26% create accounts and 11% buy?

11% is a good percentage to start but not enough for where we want to go.

The available studies on African gaming are mainly focused on English-speaking countries. So we did our own studies on a sample of our tens of thousands of users to understand this problematic.

We interviewed from November to January more than 4000 users who had created accounts and asked them why they didn’t buy:

> Their feedback allowed to point out the following points:

  • Subscription over Pay to Play: Premium purchases do not match usage. Users prefer to spend money to have access to a catalog of games rather than buying a game once in a while.
  • Africa First: The majority of users came to the platform through ads promoting African content. They are willing to invest money to support African creations.
  • Internet My Enemy: Connectivity issues on the continent impact downloads of games that users have paid for but cannot play. Platforms must integrate Multi-Part downloading from the first version. Thanks to this a user can download a small part of the game and download the rest when he has internet.
  • Keep them involved: The user must be solicited to return to the platform when their daily life takes them away from the platform.
  • It is not a question of price: We have lowered the prices several times from 1€ to 0.15€ for example. This does not have any importance on the act of purchase. An African who likes a game will pay it no matter what the price is.
  • Please let me try first: Free to Play with In-app purchases is totally adopted by gamers because of the Play Store. Premium contents becomes a drag.
  • Wide range of Android smartphones to handle: Any platform for Africa should handle Android versions from 6 to 12 in order to reduce bugs and incompatibility: Android 11 (10%), Android 10 (21%), Android 12 (15%), Android 8 (10%), etc…
  • Social media login please: Not offering a login with Google or Facebook is a very bad idea.
  • African requirement: Accustomed to the standards of international games, the African player expects a very high level of game quality. He also expects a strong reactivity from the platform and appreciates that the it put itself at his disposal to find a solution to his problem.
  • Be careful with market studies: While developing Gara, we relied on many market studies done before by companies like YUX(Senegal), AFD and others…These studies showed that sports games are the most loved games by players. So we signed soccer games from PSG, Barcelona, Mancherster City… After a few months of launching, the reality is that the most bought games are fighting and adventure games.

So do African gamers buy or not?

Of course they do…but we have to put them in the best conditions.

In response to feedback from our users, we have co-developed a new version of Gara with them.

  1. We have developed a catalog subscription system, by the day, week and month, giving access to a corresponding volume of games and comics.
  2. Made In Africa games, already at the heart of our strategy, have taken on an even stronger role: Purchase of exclusive licenses, development of games thanks to our Masseka studio linked to the platform and expert in African games, development of partnerships with local developers in the countries. We have today the largest catalod with games Made In Africa. w we will accelerate the process of identification of the creators and their distribution by going to the villages and the districts if it is necessary.
  3. Deployment of a 24/7 support system
  4. Set up of login with social networks to increase the number of account creations…Account creation has increased by 70%.
  5. We decided to open African English speaking countries (Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria)
  6. We start developing an SDK for In-app purchases for all developers. Most of developers in Africa are not registered as company. They cannot have access to official payment systems and even if they could, the process is very long, and cross border payment very complicated. Thanks to our sdk, these people will be able to have access to these technologies without having to be incoporated as a company. One sdk to sell everywhere in Africa.
  7. Strengthen our catalog with adventure games thanks to our wonderful partners
  8. etc…

As you can see, the African market is no longer a potential one only, it is an actual one. The brakes related to banking and distribution have immobilized the expansion of gaming on the continent. With our platform and growth strategy, we intend to propel the African gaming industry to the international level, to reach a level of competitiveness equal to Asian or American productions. Yes, it will take time, but the involvement of our users in the growth of African content is a huge opportunity for our platform and for the talented developers on the continent.

To follow Gara’s news and our evolution, to know the latest figures and trends of the African gaming market, to know how much do users pay on average ? How often do they come back to pay ? Mobile money vs DCB ? What type of games are played the most ? How does our In-App Purchase system work ? subscribe to our linkedin page (link) and you can also contact us at contact@gara.store.

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Gara Store

Eduternaiment contents monetizable everywhere in Africa thanks to a good platform and a strong fintech. (https://gara.store)