The Nigerian gaming landscape has undergone several significant changes and developments in recent years. The gaming industry has expanded rapidly since 2016, benefiting from an increasingly tech-savvy demographic, improved internet penetration, and the widespread availability of affordable internet-enabled devices.
With 23% of the population now playing games regularly (according to a recent report by Renaissance Capital) and the industry collectively generating $185 million in revenue in 2021, the stage is set for further expansion and growth throughout 2022 and beyond.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how gaming has developed in the country and taking a glimpse at the future of gaming in Nigeria.
Internet Tech Spurs on Nigerian Gaming
During the early days of mainstream video gaming, the presence of the pastime in Nigeria was sparse indeed. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rest of the world seemed to be gripped in the thrall of console-mania, with systems like SEGA’s Mega Drive and Nintendo’s NES selling out from country to country. In Nigeria, however, such consoles had a limited release.
This meant that only the wealthiest were able to access gaming devices, leaving out a generation of would-be gamers from the developing demographic.
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However, the advent of internet connectivity changed things significantly for Nigerian gamers. From the era of the PlayStation 2 onwards, both access to consoles and the development of the gaming industry in the country began to surge. This kickstarted a pattern that would play out again with the advent of mobile gaming.
The Dominance of Mobile Gaming
Globally, mobile gaming is on the rise as the most dominant market in the industry, so it should be no surprise to learn that’s also the case here in Nigeria. Many experts believe it’s the accessibility of smartphones and data connections that are driving the popularity of gaming as a whole in the country.
Unlike video games or those intended for the PC, mobile games require very little in the way of advanced technology – you could say it’s the most egalitarian of all gaming markets. Nigerians who have previously been frozen out of gaming due to income status can now access a whole world of gaming experiences just using their low-end or mid-range smartphones.
Additionally, mobile games like PUBG Mobile or Call of Duty use comparatively little data to run – making them even more appealing to residents who’ve chosen the more affordable mobile data packages over fixed Broadband and WiFi connections.
The Nigerian iGaming Model
It’s not just gaming on the go that’s sustaining the gaming industry here in Nigeria; the ever-expanding iGaming market is also playing a major role. As the leading online market in Africa, the country has the resources needed to replicate the lucrative iGaming models in place throughout Europe and some states in North America.
iGaming is the overarching name for online casino, poker and sports betting activities. Being a technologically innovative market, it creates rich and dynamic gaming experiences, thoroughly updating traditional elements like roulette numbers for modern audiences. For gamers, it provides the thrill of playing real money games such as poker or roulette in an immersive format.
Additionally, the success so far of iGaming in Nigeria is prompting expansion into other tech markets, such as cryptocurrency. We’re increasingly seeing an emergence of play to earn gaming experiences, which reward gamers with crypto tokens for completing specific tasks or hitting certain levels within a game.
Is Nigeria set for an eSports Boom?
As Electronic Sports, or eSports as it’s more commonly known, continues to gain traction throughout gaming industries across the globe, Nigeria too seems set for an eSports boom.
While the market is still very much contained at a grassroots level, with local tournaments like Fingaz n Thumbz (FIFA) emerging in 2020 alongside League of Legends competitions, further initiatives have been established over the past 12 months that will see the market expand in 2022.
In February, the Lagos State Electronic Sports Association (LSEA) initiated the development of several new grassroots efforts in a bid to promote competitive gaming amongst the city’s youthful population. Additionally, the LSEA is the only approved and recognised eSports association in Nigeria at present and is busy setting up initiatives to engage with players across the country.
With the backing of the Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), perhaps it won’t be too long before we see Nigerian gamers compete on the world’s stage.
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