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iHub By Sam Wakoba / November 25, 2012

Gaming Scene in Africa | Maliyo Games Vs Ma3Racer


BY Sam Wakoba

Move over Rovio’s Angry Birds and Bad Piggies. Gaming startups in Africa are changing the game scene on the continent, slowly replacing internationally popular games.

Nigeria’s Maliyo Games is at the moment pushing for local content for the more than 160 million people online and the one billion mobile subscribers in Africa. According to Hugo Obi founder of Maliyo Games, the lack of African themed games both online on mobile phones left a gap which even popular Nollywood movies could not fill.  When they began, no one was developing games specifically for Africa.

Maliyo claim they will be bigger than the global leaders Zynga and EA games with the growing uptake of internet and mobile phones creating a market of over one billion people on the continent.

Oluseye Soyode-Johnson, consultant at Maliyo Games says the games are everyday Africa experiences which people easily identify with. Mosquito Smasher, one of the popular games from Maliyo involves a player smashing mosquitoes symbolizing the fight against the bugs and malaria and other issues people face on the continent.

Maliyo’s Okada Ride,depicts a player riding a motorcycle on a hot and busy day trying to get to work  quickly.  The rider has to go through numerous obstacles such as pedestrians, hawkers, road barriers and law enforcement agents on his  way to work.  Amidst all the obstacles, one has to reach their destination as quickly as possible and without crashing to win.

Other games from Maliyo include Kidnapped, My Village , Class Eight, Adoma, The Tribes, Football Goalie and Aboki.

Mobile is Key

According to the team, mobile is key. Maliyo games which Obi expects to be a hit on the continent as Africa’s mobile subscription grows is steadily developing games for mobile devices. They believe the games will help them tap into the growing mobile population.

The games are now available on the Nokia App Store, on the Facebook App Centre and an Android version is underway. Maliyo has recently started working with corporate institutions especially banks and it won’t be long for it to take on other institutions.

However it is not the only firm in the gaming scene in Africa.

Kenya’s Planet Ruckus is also giving gaming enthusiasts in the country and on the continent a taste of both worlds-an addictive game, humor with a lesson learnt after every stage.

Kenya’s Ma3Racer

Planet Ruckus’s Ma3 Racer is interesting. Players race on a congested city street eluding traffic police officers, on rugged pot-holed roads avoiding accidents with much caution.

Joe Muriithi Njeru of Planet Ruckus says they were inspired by the rowdy Nairobi Matutu drivers who race to beat others for space and passengers and escape corrupt police officers. The game is simple, “Players drive through the busy streets of Nairobi and should be careful enough to avoid ramming into other cars, pedestrians and racing against time as they compete with others for passengers.”

According to Njeru, Ma3Racer  August hit 46,000 downloads in just 9 days after their August release and was among the Top 30 Most Downloaded New Games on the Ovi Store. Now with over 890,000 in the Nokia Ovi Store the team is working on a new version.

Njeru says they are working on an Android version they expect to be out by second quarter of 2013. They also cite lack of monetization as the Nokia Ovi Store downloads are free unlike the Android downloads.

Njeru promises Mathree will be a hit when its new version comes out.

Game Earnings

Apart from the Maliyo and Planet Ruckus, there are several other gaming firms spread across the continent but they all earn less revenue compared to their counterparts in US and UK.

For example, the 1982 founded Electronic Arts Inc, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $4.1 billion in its 2012 fiscal year and recently partnered with Nazara to distribute its games in Africa.

UK’s founded in 2003 with the goal of becoming the premiere destination for skill gaming on the internet currently has more than 150 games with over 40 million monthly players and more than 3 billion games played per month globally in 14 languages.

The firm is considering a US flotation in 2013, saw revenue of €44.7m (£36.2m) in 2011, and a  €2m profit.

California based social gaming firm Zynga Games had over 306 million monthly active users by July this year and announced a revenue of US$ 317 million.

Worldwide the global gaming industry is expected to be worth has $110 billion by 2015. Game developers in Africa therefore need to do much to scale to  there level.

And its not rocket science.

Maliyo Games can build an empire out of its games.Public health NGOs can use the Mosquito Smasher to educate masses in Malaria prevention. Okada can be used to teach road safety.This applies to all its other games which are set on a particular theme.

Maliyo games can also use advertising which is under its business model to expand its revenues. Its launch of adventure games dubbed Sharpsule to win clients for Wema Bank is a great move as Johnson says other banks are interested too.

Other games in Africa include Kuluya,SkillPod Media,Afroes and Tough Jungle.

Author : Sam Wakoba

  • Billy Branks Kaye at 13:53:05PM Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Watch out for Uganda’s Kola studios (, They have built a game called Matatu ( Its a card game with the same name in Uganda, In Kenya its called Karata and in Tanzania its called Lastcard). I think their company has very good potential. I ditched AngryBirds when i downloaded this game and have not looked back since then. You can look it up in the Android Store or use this link to get it

  • Sam at 15:29:09PM Friday, November 30, 2012

    Hey Billy,

    This guys are cool actually, trying out their games in a bit!

  • Jide Daniel Olusanya at 14:53:52PM Monday, January 7, 2013

    Hi billy,
    I like what you are doing and i think its really cool. The fact that gaming is being promoted in Africa is awesome as this will also help cut down the unemployment percentage and finally creative people can do what they love to do and make a living in the process. Also what i think we need to do now is to improve the AI of these games and the graphics and well so that we can match up to our foreign counterparts. Nice one Billy keep it up.


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