Kenyans' mobile games spend rises to Sh5.2bn

Kenyans spent Sh5.2 billion last year on mobile games, ranking sixth in Africa.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Kenyans spent Sh5.2 billion last year on mobile games, ranking sixth in Africa as greater internet penetration and smartphone availability continue to make them a popular pastime activity.

A new report by games market data tracker Newzoo ranks Kenya at sixth position in mobile gaming spending on the continent for the full year 2023, indicating that a total of 3.4 million Kenyans paid a combined $39.8 million (Sh5.2 billion in current exchange rates) for gaming activities during the period.

Dubbed the Global Games Market Report, the survey positions Nigeria as the continental leader in spending, with 14.7 million citizens splurging $229.7 million (Sh29.9 billion) during the year followed by Egypt where 20.2 million gamers spent $212.6 million (Sh27.6 billion).

Other nationals whose spending dwarfed that of Kenyans included South Africans where 9.6 million people paid $209.8 million (Sh27.3 billion), Moroccans where 7.7 million gamers spent $147.3 million (Sh19.2 billion), while in Tunisia, 2.3 million users parted with a combined $62 million (Sh8.1 billion) during the period.

Others ranked as top spenders include Ethiopia where 4.8 million of its citizens spent $39 million (Sh5.1 billion), Ghana with 2.6 million nationals paying $34.4 million (Sh4.5 billion) as well as Libya where 800,000 users forked out $23.6 million (Sh3.1 billion).

Rising consumption

Newzoo says that the expenditure figures excluded taxes, consumer-to-consumer second-hand trade, advertising revenues earned in and around games, hardware, business-to-business services, and the traditionally regulated online gambling and betting industry.

“Gaming is now fully embedded in the mainstream. With each younger generation, gaming engagement increases. As current players age and new players enter the fold, player numbers will continue to rise,” reads the report.

“Mobile remains gaming’s most significant segment by consumer spending by far, accounting for just under half of the entire global market.”

The spending trends come to light at a time data shows that mobile gaming apps usage is on a continuous two-year decline worldwide, weighed down by inflation and stringent regulations.

According to the State of Mobile 2024 report published by mobile analytic firm, overall global gaming spend last year decreased to $107 billion (Sh13.9 trillion) which translated to a two percent dip compared to 2022, while downloads remained steady at 88 billion, driven chiefly by hypercasual, simulation and action genres.

“Mobile gaming was one of the industries hit hardest in 2022 by inflation and regulations. The two percent annual decline in consumer spend last year looks like a continuation of the four percent decline in 2022,” notes

Newzoo attributes the declining usage to new inhibiting policies from tech giants Apple and Google.

“Mobile publishers are currently facing privacy-related monetisation and user-acquisition challenges due to policies from Apple and Google. Mobile developers and marketers have been forced to course-correct their strategies and experiment with new ones, stopping the segment’s trend of immense growth in its tracks,” writes the tracking firm in its fresh report.

In Kenya, the fun activity is pronounced among children and teenagers, enabled greatly by deep penetration of smart gadgets as well as internet connectivity in the country.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that Kenyans start owning mobile phones from the age of three, with a record 44,777 devices as of February last year being in the hands of children aged between three to four.

The Digital 2022 Global Overview Report indicates that at least 42 percent of the entire Kenyan population is currently connected to the Internet.

Lurking dangers

While online gaming has the potential to provide quality social interactions for children, experts have raised concerns regarding the dark side of it noting that it exposes children to threats such as cyberbullying, online predators, hidden costs, malware and webcam anxieties among others.

As part of government-led efforts to ensure the safety of children as they browse through the internet, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) last year partnered with mobile gaming studio Usiku Games to launch a game aimed at helping children develop a critical approach towards information found on the web spaces.

Dubbed Cyber Soljas, the game is segmented into five levels namely cybercrime, identity theft, fake news, catfishing and cyberbullying.

It is aimed at guiding children through the maze of potential dangers online and enabling them to protect their identity, personal data and recognise sites containing harmful content.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.