Level up!: Our top five African gaming studios
A few months after it turned 18, Ubisoft Casablanca closed down. The Moroccan studio was a stalwart of the African gaming scene, producing games such as Rayman Legends, Child of Light and Valiant Hearts. Although Ubisoft gave a vague reason for the closure (“we didn’t find a sustainable formula for the studio within our broader network”), the Casablanca branch shutdown poses a timely question. Can gaming studios survive in Africa?
We think so. South Africa’s independent scene has been going strong since the 90s, when Celestial Games’ Toxic Bunny became the first game in the country to sell over 100,000 copies. Today, indie studios are emerging across the continent, especially in Kenya, Cameroon, Morocco and Ghana. PwC, one of the world’s biggest professional services firm, also has faith in the industry. In 2015, it predicted that the fastest growth in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya will be seen in video games.
Thus, we bring you our top picks from Africa’s gaming scene - studios that blend creativity, business sense and entrepreneurship.
Hugo Obi and Oluseye Soyode-Johnson founded Maliyo Games in 2012, making it one of the first video game companies in West Africa. “We look at entertainment and we see music and we see video, and we realised that gaming is not something people have caught up on. Gaming itself is a global phenomenon,” Johnson says. Maliyo Games (available on web or mobile) aims to tap into the Nigerian experience, via of style, graphics and culture. In Okada Ride, the player can control the motorbikes driven around real-life Lagos. Mosquito Squasher (now in its fourth edition) is Maliyo’s answer to Angry Birds.
Kenya’s Andrew Kaggia (formally Black Division) is best known for Nairobi X, a game based on an alien invasion of Nairobi. Nairobi X is Africa’s first domestically developed 3D first person shooter and multiplayer video game accessible for Android, IOS and Windows and PC. Kaggia has noted that there is strong demand for local content in this form, and he’s right. Demand was so high that the server handling download requests crashed after about three hours, prompting an early release on Google Play Store the next day.
In its own words, Free Lives aims to make games that “someone out there might give a damn about”. The Cape Town company channeled its nonchalant philosophy into Broforce, a hypermasculine action-hero game that blew up in 2014. The game sold over 250,000 copies while still in development and by May 2016 had made almost $3 million. Broforce also received critical acclaim, gaining a 78 percent score from PC Gamer and an 8.8/10 from IGN. Other successful ventures include Ore Chasm and Strange Happenings on Murder Island.
Entrepreneur Guillaume Olivier Madiba set up Kiro’o Games in 2013, and released his first game after raising $270,000 in funding. “The diaspora supports African products. People want something new, innovative and exotic—this is what Kiro’o Games will offer,” said investor Rodrigue Fouafou, CEO of Canadian brand HartNamtemah. The game, Aurion, sees a royal couple travelling through a fantasy world of tribal characters, lush greenery and percussive music. Madiba consulted local Cameroonian tribe Bamileke for marketing help, what he calls, “local, traditional way of fundraising in tribes with the Wall Street logic of shareholding”. For his work on Aurion, Madiba was picked by the US state department to participate in the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship Program.
Launched in a small Lagos flat, Kuluya’s 13-man team gained $2 million funding after just six months. Kuluya produces cross-platform games with African characters. From high-end console to casual browser games, The Nigerian studio has launched 60 games since it started. My Oga @ the Top an online game was played 60,000 times within the first 72 hours. “Our games are developed for a niche audience that have, before now, not been catered for,” Kuluya state.
NetNumber: Time for a cloud-native transformation
NetNumber is accelerating the transition in the telecom industry to 5G as it starts a shift to cloud-native architecture to address the fast-paced demands of global subscribers and businesses.
NetNumber is offering the industry’s first cloud-native platform designed to ensure InterGENerational™ network performance addresses both the legacy and next-generation requirements of telecom networks.
“NetNumber has developed the industry’s most robust cloud-native, InterGENerational platform that addresses both the legacy and 5G requirements of telcos,” said Matt Rosenberg, Chief Revenue Officer of NetNumber.
The platform provides vertical and horizontal scale-out with low latency, coupled with a suite of data replication capabilities, which provide flexible architectural options that can evolve with the changing network over time.
“Cloud-based solutions from other vendors tend to be limited in terms of supporting particular network generations or protocols. We’ve created our latest platform TITAN.IUM to allow customers to take any generation of applications, any generation of legacy services and protocols and move them into the new world of cloud-native architecture,” said Rosenberg.
“This is a really important part for a carrier to harmonise their network, bring data services together, bring legacy with new together in order to make a more effective and efficient network, as well as reduce their cost as they scale forward,” he said.
Established in 1999, NetNumber has fostered a strong team environment that leverages the industry’s best skills to offer software solutions tailored for carriers of all dimensions. Based outside of Boston and with presence in over 20 countries, the company delivers a range of products that address all generations (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) of network functions in the core network, deep rooted security products and services, STIR/ SHAKEN and set of options around data services in more than 90 countries.
Steeped in experience in building telecom solutions, software, protocol stacks, and integration of third party tools, the company’s development organisation has proven to supply to the industry with the most reliable and flexible solutions on the market.
“At NetNumber, we focus on our core competencies – we are dedicated to providing industry expertise in signaling, routing, security, subscriber management and data services. We provide customers a strong ROI through platform-based solutions that reduce Capex and Opex in the long-term,” commented Rosenberg.
Five reasons why customers choose NetNumber:
- Expertise - NetNumber has experts with deep knowledge in signaling/routing, security, and subscriber database management.
- Integration - An industry-first platform brings together domain services, applications, security, and global data services.
- Scale - NetNumber has the ability to seamlessly increase network efficiency using vertical and horizontal scaling.
- Speed - World-class solutions have the power to help companies create new service offerings and accelerate time to ROI.
- Savings - Customers enjoy significant savings in capex and opex, flexible deployment models, and investment protection.
NetNumber and Virgin Mobile MEA
“We're very proud of our partnership with Virgin Mobile MEA as they've taken the concept of the InterGENerational platform into their regional network strategy,” commented Rosenberg. “That’s accelerated how they develop exceptional services across the Middle East and Africa region.
“We work with them hand-in-hand to deliver multiple applications onto our platform which has enabled them to provide exceptional, advanced and innovative services to their customers across the Middle East, who demand high quality services.
“What they've really taken advantage of is scale. What I mean by that is they are putting multiple generations of applications and services onto the same platform and distributing that data across their network. That has resulted in an advantageous position of time to market and operational savings.
“Rather than having different applications for many different vendors that cause operational chaos, they've been able to consolidate that and reduce their operating costs by having everything on one common architecture. We’ve had a long-term relationship with Virgin Mobile in Saudi Arabia, and recently signed an agreement with Virgin Mobile in Kuwait.”
Rosenberg says that with these solutions, Virgin Mobile MEA can take advantage of getting to the market much quicker and faster—which is what today’s discerning customer demands.