2008 saw the first emergence of mobile gaming as Apple gave its first look at the early version of the App Store – Google quickly followed with their own Play Store and the rest is, as they say, history – it caused a huge change as mobile utility went from being something to message and call with, to an entire multimedia device. At first, mobile gaming was seemingly written off as just an extra option that was more of a gimmick, but time has quickly changed this perception as mobile gaming is now the largest gaming market in the world, with estimates suggesting that in 2020 alone, over $85 billion may have been generated. It has also led big companies to invest heavily in gaming platforms too with Facebook investing in Oculus, Amazon to invest in game streaming platform Twitch, and others to pick up their own smaller gaming studios. With big investment opportunities and change, big telecom giants in Nigeria also look to be making their own pickups into the market.
The latest has been from MTN as it enters a partnership with a leading game developer, Gameloft, to launch their own mobile gaming service called Gameworld. Others in the region such as Airtel have already launched their own games club too in order to support the growing market which now boasts over 151 million total connections, expected to rise to 210 million by 2025. The rate of smartphone adoption within Nigeria is amongst the fastest growing in the world and provides a unique investment opportunity – where mobile use was already very high in the west by the time a gaming market developed, the two in Nigeria are growing hand in hand to develop new services.
That isn’t to say all is tied up neatly and will come without challenge, as there is still a hill to climb – there has been big change in Nigeria recently focussing on the betting and gambling market to ensure that the proper licensing is in place, but the push for mobile gaming could cause complications here as seen across the world. Some of the biggest services now primarily operate on mobile such as at bettingsites.ng, and with other features such as microtransactions and loot boxes that have been a cause for concern in other parts of the world – there’s a unique opportunity here for these big Telco’s when investing to make the changes required to avoid many of these problems. There’s a lot of incentive to push the market forward though, a suggested $600m revenue was generated from mobile gaming in 2019, and will likely continue to grow as more players adopt mobile gaming across the region.