For many South Africans, gaming is increasingly becoming a part of recreation and leisure in day-to-day life. Anecdotal evidence from anyone who spends time around someone with a computer or a mobile phone is proof of this increase, with the latter sort of technology, in particular, enjoying a big market share. And the statistics bear this out, too. South Africa is home to the African continent’s second biggest gaming market – and is second only to Egypt.
According to one study, the video game industry in the country was worth 3.5 billion South African rand in 2018 alone. And this figure is currently projected to skyrocket – with some suggesting that the sector will be worth 5.44 billion by 2023, which is, of course, now just a few years away. This article will delve into some of the complex reasons why this is the case.
One of the most important reasons why South Africa’s gaming industry has seen such a big rise in its fortunes in recent times is the high degree of smartphone penetration that the country now enjoys. Figures show that while there were just under 10 million smartphone users in South Africa in 2014, this figure is predicted to leap to 26.3 million by 2023.
But usage is only one part of the equation. Infrastructure developments have also played a big role, and the fact that the country has now installed networks providing 4G service in many areas has improved the situation. After all, gaming is a resource-intensive exercise, and most gamers would want to see their games load in a speedy manner and render properly. This can only be done using higher-end infrastructure such as 4G, and it’s difficult to see how the online gaming sector in South Africa could have done so well without it.
And, of course, it can only be done when more and more people are priced into the mobile technology market. For many South Africans, the formerly prohibitive cost of a smartphone meant that there was no chance of joining the mobile gaming sector. But that has now changed, and the opening up of the market and offering of wallet-friendly, budget devices has helped to fuel the surge.
Top-down market changes
It’s also worth pointing out that some of the changes in the mobile gaming sector have come from concerted, top-down efforts on the part of providers to ensure that South Africans have the maximum range of choice and convenience when it comes to playing games – and paying for those games, too.
Take, for example, the online gambling sector at sites such as OnlineGamblingSA.com. Here, providers are very keen to ensure that those who want to play everything from poker to roulette using the web have the opportunity to do so. Providers are expanding the range of payment methods they accept, too, to make sure that customers do not feel unable to join on the basis of their financial access levels.
Conferences and cafes
It’s also worth noting that the online gaming sector does not just make revenue from the production and sale of games. This industry also has a lot of ancillary services that exist to make the lives of gamers easier, less expensive or more connected – and this trend is certainly true for the online gaming sector. A wide range of businesses have opened up in South Africa in recent years, specifically designed to help gamers get the best out of their hobby.
Take, for example, CodeBro Cafe in Johannesburg. Here, it’s possible to get a snack and a drink and play online games alongside other fans. And there’s also an increasingly large gaming conference and meet-up scene in South Africa, including some events aimed at specific sub-groups of the gaming community, such as women. Organisers of events such as these know that it’s not just a chance to have fun – on the contrary, it’s an opportunity to open up a new revenue stream profiting off the surging interest in the country’s online gaming sector.
Overall, then, it’s apparent that South Africa’s online gaming sector has been booming in recent years. A combination of factors, such as a concerted effort on the part of industry leaders and an expanded mobile phone sector, has led to this state of affairs – and with both gamers and industry leaders hopeful of expanding this in the future, it’s likely that South Africa will enjoy even more gaming options as time goes on.