The global video game industry is booming.
That’s not particularly surprising. With the growth of smartphones and mobile apps throughout the 2010s, digital gaming penetrated everywhere with an internet connection.
Recent worldwide market figures indicate gaming expansion will continue during the next decade as more people in developing nations come online.
In Africa, the largest gaming markets by revenue are Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa, and Algeria.
Each country has generated more than $100 million USD in video game sales a year since 2017.
A deeper dive into the data shows the global evolution of gaming markets and how Africa is contributing to growth trends.
Gamers, industry jobs increasing throughout Africa
Once a curiosity in Africa, gaming has become a mainstay of modern life across the continent.
According to Serge Thiam, a digital strategist and African esports expert, the number of video game players in Africa jumped from 23 million in 2014 to 500 million.
The leap in players coincides with double-digit topline growth. Video game sales across all market segments were up 11.1% in 2019.
The gaming surge is also bringing jobs to African nations. Many game developers who started in the industry part-time have seen the transition of their roles to full-time work as gaming companies expand.
Sidick Bakayo, founder of Ivory Coast-based Paradise Game, envisions one million people hired for the gaming industry in West Africa by 2025. He estimates the continental total could surpass five million employees.
Upward movements in global gaming
The growth of gaming markets in Africa mirrors a broader trend around the world.
As of 2019, an estimated 2.5 people, or roughly a third of the world population, play video games. Gamers spent $152.1 billion on digital games and accessories last year, a 9.6% lift over 2018.
Video games are at the center of entertainment more than ever.
Industry watchers expect sustained global growth to continue around nine percent year-over-year through 2022.
That trend would make video games a $200 billion market worldwide market. By comparison, the global movie production and distribution industry takes in about $100 billion annually.
Mobile gaming leads overall industry growth
Mobile gaming (smartphones and tablets) represent the largest market segment. Consumers spent $68.5 billion on mobile gaming in 2019, a 10.2% increase over 2018. Of that total, $54.9 billion was spent on smartphone games.
North America, Western Europe, and Japan spend the most on mobile gaming.
While those markets have more or less matured, Southeast Asia, India, and Middle and North Africa continue to deliver larger contributions to the segment.
Mobile gaming is expected to reach $95.4 billion in revenue by 2022 and account for half of all video game sales.
Mobile gamers enjoy a variety in the genres of games they play. In 2019, more than half of mobile gamers regularly played casual, puzzle, and arcade games. A third of the players participated in action and racing games.
Casino and strategy card games like poker were also popular across mobile platforms. Online gaming companies like PokerStars that once could only offer popular poker varieties from a desktop site now deliver the same games to mobile through a downloadable app.
Other gaming segments post strong revenue, browser games suffer
While mobile comprised the largest slice of the gaming market in 2019, console gaming was the fastest-growing segment. Consumers spent $47.8 billion on console gaming, a 13.4% increase over 2018.
PC gaming, which has been a bedrock of the industry for decades, raked in $35.7 billion last year, marking a four percent uptick compared to 2018.
Boxed/downloaded PC game sales, a segment dominated by services such as Steam, were up 6.6% in 2019 with global sales totaling $32.2 billion.
The sales of browser-based games were down 15.1% compared to 2018 figures. This $3.5 billion segment was the only part of the video game industry that saw a decline in revenue.
Jelien Moerman is a guest contributor