A new PwC report said African gaming and esports are expected to grow significantly in the next few years, with South Africa leading the pack.
The PwC Africa Entertainment and Media outlook revealed that South Africa leads the Nigerian and Kenyan markets in video games and esports revenue.
South Africa saw strong growth in these sectors in 2022. This was especially prominent within the esports category, with total revenue up 30% year-on-year.
In addition, ticket sales for events and consumer spending on battle passes for esports events rose by over 200% thanks to the post-Covid-19 rebound of live events.
PwC said several of the continent’s largest esports teams, including ATK and Bravado Gaming, hail from South Africa. Meanwhile, major esports team Cloud9 signed two South African players to their Counter-Strike roster in 2020.
The firm said increasing Internet penetration across the country has contributed to the segment’s growth as it has greatly aided general connectivity for online play.
A large part of the country’s gaming revenue stems from mobile gaming due to the prevalence of smartphones in South Africa.
Some of the most popular mobile games include PUBG Mobile, Clash of Kings and Call of Duty Mobile.
Unlike many other continents, Africa has uniquely been a mobile-first continent concerning gaming, allowing quicker implementations of systems like digital currency.
This is contrary to developed markets, which have historically leaned more towards consoles and PCs.
However, developing the esports market remains a struggle in Africa, with many countries facing regular power cuts and poor quality networks, which affect the development of players, even though more have emerged since Covid-19.
The rollout of fast and reliable fifth-generation technology (5G) networks is progressing in Africa, but multiple factors, including regulation, affordability, geography, and investment, are prohibiting quicker rollouts.
The rollout of 5G will enable consumers to access and engage with data-heavy services and platforms on the go, PwC said.
However, a challenge to the adoption of 5G in Africa is the cost of both modems and smartphone devices.
5G smartphones accounted for 19.3% of global connections in 2022, compared to 3.1% in South Africa, 2.1% in Kenya and 1.2% in Nigeria.