Harnessing Africa’s youth for blockchain mobile game dev’t


Blockchain mobile gaming is the convergence of the blockchain and mobile gaming ecosystems where both players and developers are empowered to own and co-create the gameplay mechanisms.

Think of blockchain technology as a digital ledger or record-keeping system as it is with the banking systems. It’s like a secure database that keeps track of transactions, and once information is added to it, it’s tough to change or tamper with. Blockchain technology has use cases for almost every business case or vertical. Blockchain mobile gaming, therefore, in simple terms, is a type of mobile video game that uses blockchain technology to make in-game items and assets unique, verifiable, and tradable.

In summary, blockchain gaming is about bringing real ownership and value to in-game items by using blockchain technology. It allows players and developers to have unique, tradable, and verifiable digital assets within the game, making the gaming experience more immersive and potentially profitable.

Today, mobile gaming clubs and federations are emerging in Africa seeking to change the narrative and drive learning and positive outcomes from mobile games. With every youth now owning a mobile phone, there will be an increase in gamers on the continent. Yet, what does playing games mean to most of these youngsters?

For them, it is primarily for fun and leisure despite the enormous potential. Many gamers and stakeholders continue asking how they could benefit from mobile gaming as users and creators. The answer remains to be determined in the distant future. Last year’s gaming statistics give a glimpse of what lies ahead for Africa’s mobile gaming space with the proper support from stakeholders.

In 2022, the gaming industry in sub-Saharan Africa raked in US$862.8 million, representing an impressive 8.7percent year-on-year growth. While this may seem modest compared to global figures, it holds unique and context-specific potential for the continent. First, this growth occurred when the global gaming market contracted by 4.3percent. Second, what’s truly exciting is that 90percent of the revenue in sub-Saharan Africa came from mobile devices, paving the way for a youth-driven mobile gaming strategy.

Despite these positive developments, Africa’s ownership and participation in mobile game production and distribution remain limited. The current gaming ecosystem is centralised and dominated by global giants, with minimal African involvement. The burgeoning gaming and mobile gaming sectors should catalyse growth and prosperity among Africa’s youth through game development and player rewards.

However, despite its immense potential, Africa still needs significant representation in the global mobile gaming ecosystem. To rectify this, exploring new avenues that harness the youthful population’s growing technological adoption is imperative, enabling them to play an active role in the mobile game development value chain. Breaking free from the current global hegemony in mobile game production, distribution, and earnings could usher in direct benefits for the continent.

Africa’s blockchain mobile gaming leaders

Despite a slow start, blockchain gaming projects are gaining momentum with diverse models aimed at direct player rewards and engagement. These projects often operate as Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) centered around communities. A rising trend in blockchain social gaming extends beyond gameplay to include chats, networking, and community-building.

Gamers earn rewards for community engagement and educate others. These projects also incorporate the metaverse concept, where developers create solutions that facilitate virtual work, gaming, and social interactions. Here are overviews of a few key players in this emerging landscape.

Broadly, Africa’s blockchain community is gaining momentum, Investment is flowing into the ecosystems. Just last year, Carry1st closed a US$27 million funding round to advance its mobile game publishing and digital content creation platform in Africa — a region its backers say is ripe for blockchain adoption.

Then is MITA, a web3 company that closed its seed round of 1.4 million dollars in 2021. MITA is building a social metaverse, A space where Africans can hang out, play games, chat, and make new friends. They also reward their users with a MITA token, which they can use to buy items and gifts for others in the MITA app.

MetaVerse Magana is yet another key leader in the blockchain gaming ecosystem. It is built around crypto gaming communities organised into guilds and governed by its native cryptocurrency. The opportunity is now to turn this wave into a social and economic development agenda with the right strategies.

Positioning Africa as a hub for blockchain mobile gaming

  1. Accelerated blockchain gaming skills development

Africa needs more blockchain-savvy game developers to harness the potential of mobile gaming. Deliberate policies and actions are required to seize this opportunity in the following ways.

  • Blockchain game mobile development hubs solution: Establishing hubs that connect developers with companies, gamers, and advertisers can bridge knowledge gaps and foster collaboration in blockchain game solutions development.
  • School-based blockchain game development: Partnering with universities to introduce blockchain game development courses can equip students with essential gaming industry skills and encourage them to publish their games on blockchain play-to-earn platforms.
  • Out-of-school game developer programme: Collaboration with tech training schools and incubators like MEST Africa, Africa Blockchain Institute, and KLab in Rwanda can upskill and retrain existing Web2 developers in blockchain game development.
  1. Infrastructure and Investment for mobile gaming

Africa’s digital infrastructure has made significant strides, but further development is necessary to secure its digital future. Mobilising resources for affordable internet access, mobile devices, ICT hubs, and computers can boost game development and adoption. Additionally, private sector funding and support from the development community can promote blockchain mobile game development and esports, involving all stakeholders.

  1. Regulatory compliance and clarity – starting with risk-based management

Regulatory frameworks are essential for building user confidence in blockchain gaming. Stakeholders must collaborate to develop responsive policies that support and drive innovation in blockchain development. Governments can work with gaming commissions to create blockchain developer sandboxes, which can help developers meet regulatory requirements and ensure compliance. Such proactive measures can accelerate the adoption of blockchain mobile games, as regulatory uncertainty remains a significant barrier.

  1. Partnerships – bridging the non-blockchain and blockchain chasm for software developers

Purposeful partnerships at various levels are crucial to connect Web2 and blockchain ecosystems. Political leaders can facilitate partnerships between blockchain and Web2 companies, industries, and educational institutions to create a conducive environment for game development talent.

These collaborations can focus on gamifying priority sectors such as STEM learning, tourism promotion, health, and agriculture, thereby addressing national challenges while stimulating creativity and innovation. Supporting joint projects leveraging Web2 and blockchain technologies can foster knowledge transfer and more robust business and technology partnerships within the tech ecosystem.

The bright future ahead

Mobile gaming has become a norm among Africa’s youth, stakeholders must design systems and incentives to harness its potential for good. blockchain presents a new pathway for win-win mobile gaming ecosystems that empower developers and cater to various player preferences. It encourages game development for educational purposes, opening doors to new skills and opportunities for blockchain developers.

Unlike the current Web2 gaming framework that relegates Africa to a consumer role, blockchain offers a decentralised and open system, allowing Africa to create games aligned with national goals and incentivising mass participation across different player demographics. The widespread adoption of the internet and mobile phones provides a solid foundation for a thriving blockchain mobile gaming ecosystem. Governments investing in and developing policies to support this sector will lead to nurturing a dynamic blockchain mobile gaming industry.

>>>the writer is a tech and public policy expert in emerging technologies and national development. He has published tech and policy reports on blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Africa’s tech ecosystems, and green technology. Additionally, he is a blockchain founder who advocates for blockchain adoption among African students, developers, and young professionals. Twitter: @bbayuo Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blaise-b-bayuo-b78b081a/

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