Sony's Pioneering Move in Africa's Gaming Landscape
In a groundbreaking development, Sony, the Japanese consumer electronics and gaming giant, is placing a significant bet on Africa's burgeoning video game industry. The company has made an undisclosed investment in Carry1st, a Cape Town-based video game studio, through its Sony Innovation Fund venture arm. This strategic move is poised to reshape the dynamics of gaming in the continent.
Exploring Commercial Synergies
The investment is not just a financial transaction; it signifies a strategic partnership between Sony and Carry1st. As the two entities enter the "exploratory stages" of collaboration, the potential for commercial opportunities looms large, promising a collaborative venture that could redefine the gaming landscape in Africa.
Africa's Untapped Gaming Potential
Cordel Robbin-Coker, CEO and co-founder of Carry1st, reveals that discussions with Sony commenced approximately eight to nine months ago. The focal point of Carry1st's pitch to Sony was Africa's untapped potential as the next major market for video game growth. Robbin-Coker emphasizes Africa's significance, stating, "As large companies like Sony... start thinking about where the next billion customers and gamers are going to come from, our pitch is that Africa is a prime market for that."
Seizing the Console Opportunity
Asserting their belief in an "incredibly underrated console opportunity in Africa," Robbin-Coker identifies countries like Nigeria, Morocco, and Algeria where console adoption is witnessing significant growth. With Sub-Saharan Africa's gaming industry projected to surpass $1 billion in 2024, the timing aligns perfectly with Sony's strategic investment.
Sony's Vision for PS5 Growth in Africa
Sony's investment in Carry1st is not just a financial transaction; it's a calculated move to expand the reach of PlayStation in Africa. As Sony aims to sell a record 25 million PlayStation 5 units in its 2023 fiscal year, Carry1st becomes a key ally in realizing this ambitious goal.
Facilitating PlayStation's Footprint
Carry1st's partnership with Sony extends beyond financial support. The collaboration aims to facilitate PlayStation's expansion in Africa, encompassing diverse go-to-market strategies and digital payments. The evolving console business model, shifting towards online experiences, aligns with Carry1st's capabilities in providing localized payment services through Pay1st.
Localized Payments and Original Games
Carry1st, founded in 2018, has positioned itself as a leading player in the development of social and casual puzzle-based mobile games tailored for the African audience. As part of its unique offerings, Carry1st introduced Pay1st, a localized payment service enabling African gamers to make purchases using local infrastructure and payment methods, including M-Pesa and mobile wallets.
Venture into Original Titles
While Carry1st has primarily focused on developing games for clients like Activision, the company is set to embark on a new venture—developing its own original titles. With three new games in development, Carry1st's CEO, Cordel Robbin-Coker, expresses confidence in launching their debut first-party game in 2024.
Sony's Flagship African Venture Fund: A Commitment to Growth
Sony's investment in Carry1st marks the inaugural financial commitment of its flagship African venture fund, Sony Innovation Fund: Africa. Launched in October 2023, the fund is dedicated to investing in early-stage startups in Africa's entertainment industry, with an initial allocation of $10 million.
Backing from Industry Giants
Carry1st's latest deal adds to its impressive list of venture backers, including Andreessen Horowitz, Bitkraft Ventures, Google, Riot Games, and rapper Nas. With $60 million in funding to date, Carry1st stands as a testament to the industry's confidence in its potential.
As Sony and Carry1st embark on this collaborative journey, the gaming landscape in Africa is poised for unprecedented growth, with innovation, localized solutions, and original content at the forefront of this dynamic partnership.