The global gaming market brings billions of dollars into the world’s economy, with gaming revenues for 2020 exceeding $159.3 billion worldwide. The countries with the lion’s share of the global gaming industry include the USA, the UK, Canada, India, China, and South Korea. Could another enter the fray? One of the countries hoping to get a bigger slice of the action is South Africa.
There are several factors you need to be a global gaming superpower. You need to have multiple sources of gaming revenue, a large, tech-savvy population, and strong industry exports. A fast and reliable mobile infrastructure and a significant presence in esports are other increasingly important factors.
So, does the rainbow nation have what it takes to become a global gaming giant? Let’s look at how South Africa measures up.
A couple of years ago, India went online en masse, and the Indian gaming market boomed to an estimated billion dollars. Despite state-legislated Indian gambling laws, much of this increase was down to mobile casinos. The South African internal government’s investment into high-speed internet and increased 3G/4G coverage has resulted in a rise in iGaming and esports.
We need to take into account that South Africa’s population of just shy of 60 million people is nowhere close to India’s figure of well over 1 billion. However, wide mobile access and strong mobile networks certainly help to build online gaming revenue.
Such fast download speeds and strong connections are perfectly compatible with online casino games, such as those listed at casinos.co.za. Players can enjoy mobile slots and card games and make quick payments and withdrawals, with no loss of connectivity or functionality. This makes mobile casinos a far more attractive prospect. However, it is not just online casinos that benefit from superior 4G and upload speeds.
Games developed for mobiles are popular in South Africa, particularly those created by homegrown companies. From Celestial Games’ ‘Toxic Bunny’ to Luma Arcade’s multiple offerings, there’s a large pool of mobile gaming talent in South Africa. These games are also becoming more readily available globally, on the App Store. As reported at geekvibesnation.com cross-platform games are also becoming more popular, allowing mobile and PC gamers to compete with each other and creating another market.
To truly become a superpower in the world of gaming, South Africa needs to have a product that can be exported and embraced by the global masses.
Games such as Broforce by Free Lives, Rogue Moon Studios’ Blade Runner-inspired collectable card game System Crash, and subversive first-person shooter Polygod from Krafted Games are putting South Africa on the map. Broforce joined previous Free Lives offering Semblance on Nintendo Switch in 2018, having already been made available for Microsoft Windows, OS, X, a Linus Port and Playstation 4 some years earlier.
As these prolific studios continue to produce entertaining and often quirky games, their reach should increase. Experts forecast that the South Africa video gaming market value will climb from 3.5 billion South African Rand in 2018 to 5.44 ZAR in 2023 (around $380 million).
However, such games are unlikely to usurp titles such as CS:GO and League of Legends as the most played video games in the world. The final piece of the puzzle, then, could be esports revenue.
Esports is increasingly becoming one of the fastest-growing markets not only in gambling but in the entire showbiz industry.
South Africa currently has around 400 professional players at the highest level, compared to the USA’s 2,000 odd. The South African national team has competed in every International esports Federation World Championship since 2009. The top South African esports team, Bravado Gaming earned $150,538 in 2019. Total esports earnings saw South Africa drop from 47th to 64th place in the 2019 global rankings. But in 2020, they went back up to 60th.
Twitch viewing figures from South Africa are also increasing. South Africans joining the esports community via such streaming services could facilitate them streaming themselves, creating another source of gaming revenue for the country. Is it enough?
South Africa is certainly moving in the right direction and would appear to have all the necessary components in place. However, it is not the only country trying to increase its foothold in the gaming industry and it is difficult to predict which, if any, will break into the top tier.