Local software developers turn to gaming apps
Posted Wednesday, June 27 2012 at 19:40
- Ma3Racer is a graphic representation of the dynamics of navigating Kenyan roads where matatus are king of the urban jungle.
Kenyan developers keep churning out new applications each passing day. In the midst of the local mobile app flare-up, however, one facet of consumer technology seems to have been left behind — mobile gaming.
Mobile gaming is unappreciated among many users of mobile devices in the country despite the presence of related applications made by local software developers.
Over the recent past, however, several tech start-ups and individual developers have been striving to make gaming popular and in the process are cashing on the entertainment needs of their users.
The gaming industry is quite lucrative in the developed world, generating $52 billion in software revenues in 2011, a six per cent rise in revenue over a similar period the year before.
Outside the sale of gaming software, new revenue streams for the niche industry come from endorsements, branded merchandise, and royalty fees.
Here in Kenya, however, revenue prospects in the sector are less alluring.
According to industry specialists, this has a lot to do with the high cost of gaming hardware.
“The success of gaming as an industry in the country boils down to gaming consoles like Play Station and the X-Box which are luxury items that are unaffordable to most middle income consumers in the country,” said Mr Andrew Kaggia, a software developer and animation expert.
Mobile gaming is also dependent on users having smart phones with hardware capabilities to run the games.
Besides developing the 3D feature film Wageuzi that has had immense success, Mr Kaggia has been developing gaming software for both mobile and PC devices.
In addition to the initial high cost of the hardware needed for gaming, most users are unaware or indifferent to locally made software and instead choose to buy expensive imports limiting the growth of local developers in the process.
Mr Kaggia developed iShujaa, an iPhone gaming app that had favourable feedback from users both locally and abroad.
“Many users were surprised that the game was made in Kenya because the general conception is that these products can only be sourced abroad,” he said.
At the just concluded second edition of the Pivot East competition held in Nairobi, a local gaming application beat 24 others to the grand price.
Judges of the regional competition placed Ma3Racer, a popular mobile gaming application, first. Planet Rackus, a start-up that developed Ma3Racer, has had immense success developing gaming applications.