African gaming still in its infancy – ChopUp

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Nigerian gaming startup ChopUp says gaming in Africa is still in its infancy from a supply perspective, but strong demand for local games means it is a big deal and only going to get bigger.

Along with the likes of Gamsole, Kiro’o Games, Maliyo and Kuluya, ChopUp is one of pin-up boys of African gaming, and looks to tell African narratives through its games.

Formed in 2012, ChopUp has already achieved a number of significant milestones. Its Danfo game series has clocked up over 500,000 downloads, while investors have been attracted to the company’s potential.

Disrupt Africa reported in December the startup raised US$100,000 in funding from five investors, which it is using to develop more games and market them more extensively. Co-founder Zubair Abubakar told Disrupt Africa the company was still in discussions with other potential investors over a Series A deal in future. Last month saw the startup chosen as one of the seven winners of the Airtel Nigeria Catapult-a-Startup, taking home NGN1 million (US$5,000) in prize money.

Abubakar says ChopUp was created at a time when African gaming was virtually non-existent, and though there has been progress he says the sector is still underpopulated in spite of the demand.

“There were very few gaming studios churning out games with local appeal and for us that was a key spot to fill. Gaming in Africa is still in the early days from the supply perspective, however from the demand perspective gaming is big and growing,” he said.

“This is evident in PwC’s entertainment report of 2012, where its says that revenues generated from gaming in Nigeria in 2012 were US$65 million and set to rise to US$170 million in 2017. As we gradually build the gaming industry, like the movies and music industries where Africans now like to consume local content, we’ll eventually also have them like and prefer African games.”

The company is currently only operating in Nigeria, though its games are available globally on various app stores. Revenues are earned through in-app purchases, advertisements and developing games for brands, while the company will soon begin marketing its games in other countries.

“We are partnering with publishers to help promote and sell the games in different countries,” Abubakar said.

And in such a small space, does ChopUp see Gamsole and the others as competitors or rather partners in building an embryonic industry.

“Of course there are a number of African gaming companies, however we see them more as collaborators as we are all working to build the African gaming industry,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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