The Push for Little Big Data in African Esports

Posted by Meijin May 20, 2019 in OpEd

Who knew digital youth culture would become not only a huge sensation but also the source of income for many individuals across the globe, irrespective of age, race or geographic location. Technological advancements have constantly disrupted global markets, especially with the meteoric rise and dependence upon social media platforms. It is in this manner that esports has come to win the hearts of millions. Worth nearly 865 million USD in 2018 and 655 million USD in 2017, it has an estimated CAGR of 22.3% by 2022 which is no wonder numerous organisations and nations are staking their claim to the young industry.

Africa has recently seen a lot of activity but today, we take particular note of the Nigerian scene. Tournaments have been going on across the country in a bid to find the best Nigerian gamers to represent the nation at the upcoming African Esports Championship (AEC) Grand Finals to be held in Kenya, August 2019. Being the first truly Pan-African esports tournament ever held, Nigerians are trying to take things a step further by holding numerous regional qualifiers in a number of States before their big national event. So it’s a pretty busy time for esports organisations across the country, providing businesses with the opportunity to get their products and brands in front of the ever-elusive teenage and young adult demographics (notorious for their short attention spans). 

EFC Africa - Grand Final

Image credit: EFC Africa 2018

The Pursuit of Data

However, the news isn’t filled with announcements about big partnerships, million naira sponsorships and the construction of large esports facilities across the country or continent for that matter. This is because there isn’t any reliable source of information on industry figures that would win these business partners over. Now, it isn’t that gamers and aspiring pros do not exist in African countries but more that their numbers cannot be verified, their purchasing power cannot be estimated and their brand loyalty is based on assumptions. It’s not all bad news though as groups like the AEC, Naija Game Evo and Esports Nigeria are already capturing and collating all this valuable information. 

One of such efforts is by VersusNG, a small esports organisation operating in Kaduna State, situated within the country’s northwestern geopolitical zone. With its esports survey, it seeks to gather various data regarding game preferences, existing organisations and general industry insight. So far, it has only managed to gather the opinions of just over a hundred respondents but it is still open for more entries. You can check it out for yourself at the link here

Statistics gathered indicate that 89% of respondents are male, mostly residing within Kaduna State (36.73%), where VersusNG has made its home. It is followed by the FCT Abuja at 25.51% and Lagos with 16.33%. The rest is distributed unevenly amongst 14 more States and another 2.04% represents those living, schooling or working abroad. 49% of these respondents are of the highly coveted 26 – 35 age bracket, 95.96% of whom consider themselves to be real gamers. The survey goes on to inquire about titles in specific genres, average weekly game time, preferred game platforms and the average monthly cost spent on the internet and gaming. 78.26% stated that they had an active role in the esports industry and 61.29% cited funding as the major barrier to entry or growth. The survey also questions which aspects of esports the respondents are most interested in, such as an esports team, game development or as a spectator and the list goes on, culminating in 23 questions in total. 

Let Our Powers Combine

Efforts have been made by other organisations too like Esports Nigeria’s registration for gamers and organisations. Then, there is also a petition for African game servers by Sidney Esiri, a.k.a Dr Sid who also happens to own the esports team named Sidizens Gaming. So you can register yourself and/or organisation with Esports Nigeria here and sign the petition on here for those of you willing to support the cause. 

Of particular interest is the over 50% of respondents that showed a desire for racing games, so expect another survey dedicated to motorsports some time down the line. VersusNG’s survey should be live for several months before it gets an update to collect newer data by next year. It will use the findings from this one as the foundation for the next. 

While it is an uphill battle for the Nigerian esports scene, it would seem that its stakeholders aren’t leaving things to chance anymore. In fact, it looks like African esports just might be here to stay.