The group of 10 game studios unveiled itself at the Africa Games Week 2022 event in Cape Town, South Africa. The group wants to grow the Africa gaming industry by two times every year to take advantage of the rapid growth of youths with internet connected smartphones on the continent.
None of the companies are substantial enough businesses to be able to compete with global players, or to individually bear the cost of educating the market. By coming together under one umbrella as PAGG, the studios said they will have substantial benefits of scale, diversity of skills and access to capital – that they could not get as individuals.
The PAGG will be governed through a founders’ council combining many of the top gaming entrepreneurs across the continent. They will be joined by Peter Kihara (ex-Goldman Sachs & PwC) serving as the group chief financial officer and Jake Manion (BAFTA nominated Game Director at Aardman Animation in UK) serving as group creative director.
Each studio will maintain its sovereignty and autonomy when it comes to things such as the brand, leadership, and financial independence. The founders will work together collaboratively, voting up or down proposals and resolutions brought to the founders’ council.
Dawit Abraham, CEO of Qene Games (Ethiopia) and spokesperson for PAGG, said the network has been formed to enable the Africa Gaming Industry to unlock the world’s next one billion players.
“Together, we represent over 200 professionals and eight different languages,” Abraham said in a statement. ” Our team has over 30 years of experience, leading some of the top gaming companies globally, including Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and Aardman Animation. We have produced more mobile, PC and console games than anyone else on the continent. Most importantly, all of our network members are committed to #GamingForGood, harnessing the power of gamification to create a positive social impact in our local communities.”
The group is developing and publishing locally relevant content that is relatable to African gamers. Despite the massive audience growing on the continent there is still very little relevant, local content in Africa, according to Manion.
“We are creating a portfolio of mobile-first casual games that are fun, non-violent, and gender-inclusive,” Manion said. “Our games are Made-In-Africa, For Africa, featuring African heroes wrapped in local culture, music, and environments. This allows our players to see themselves reflected in our games, which makes all the difference.”
PAGG’s more than one hundred existing games entertain, engage, and educate. By harnessing the power of gamification, the group is creating fun ways to solve some of the continent’s challenges, including healthcare, education, women’s empowerment, and climate change.
PAGG also brings together the “Gara” African game store, and “AfroComix” the largest African eComics publishing platform. Through these PAGG will have a channel for distributing it’s games tied in with Africa’s dozens of diverse payment platforms including mobile money, airtime billing, and credit cards.
To extend these effort into the future, PAGG is equipping and training Africa’s next generation of game developers, creating new jobs across the continent for youth. As an example, the Nairobi Game Development Center is a 6,000-square-feet community co-working space that will be replicated in each of the African markets to train, incubate and host the next generation of talent.
“One of our core values is not just to build a collection of games, but to incubate Africa’s gaming industry of tomorrow,” said Eyram Tawia, CEO of Leti Arts in Ghana, in a statement. “There is a wealth of incredible talent already on the continent, with more graduating every year from top-tier game development schools like Rubika. Most graduates though are relegated to doing remote work for overseas clients due to the lack of local gaming job opportunities. We’re going to fix that.”
A big market
Africa has more than 400 million internet-connected smartphone users. This is more than all of Europe and more than the U.S., Canada, and Mexico combined. That number has been growing at 20% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and is expected to reach 680 million by the end of 2025.
According to a new report from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa has the world’s fastest growing middle class, tripling to more than 300 million people in the last 30 years. The continent has a median age of just 19 years (EU=44years, USA=38 years). In a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), just the top five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are already spending $37 Billion annually on mobile gaming / mobile-based sports betting, demonstrating the massive audience willing to spend on mobile entertainment.
Gaming hit $180.3 billion in revenues in 2021, according to market researcher Newzoo. That makes it bigger than the movie and music industries combined. And Africa is following in the footsteps of other big markets like India and China.
By uniting in a group, the PAGG aims to strengthen the industry, creating more opportunities for job creation and economic opportunities in gaming, in Africa. It aims to share resources, skills and market access – to enable each of them to make better games, and to reach far more potential players than they can in their individual countries.
And the group aims to put Africa firmly on the map of the global game industry, waking up the world to the reality on the ground that Africa is a young, inter-connected, talented continent with thousands of years’ worth of legends and stories to be told.
The group will form a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), which will share governance responsibilities.
Each studio in each country will maintain its sovereignty (i.e. – Brand, leadership, financial independence). The founders of all the studios will collaboratively oversee the direction of the group via the founders’ council. As a DAO, each
founder will hold governance tokens to be able to vote up/down proposals and resolutions brought to the founders’ council.
The group plans to expand across Africa and include many more gaming studios. The PAGG is already in conversations with other gaming companies in Cote D’ivoire, Morocco, Nigeria, Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia. One of the core values of PAGG is gender inclusivity.
The group said there are over 11 million gamers in South Africa alone, and a report from GSMA published in 2019, an association of mobile network operators worldwide, said there are over 747 million active mobile users in sub-Saharan Africa, representing 75% of the population.
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