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Players prefer offline, free-to-play games, says African games study

Report reveals gaming and spending habits across Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, and Cameroon

A new report looking into how games are consumed in French-speaking African countries Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, and Cameroon shows a clear preference for free-to-play titles, in an ecosystem dominated by Android.

The report showed that over 80% of respondents across the three countries use Android phones – the percentage is particularly high in Cameroon, where 96% of the respondents have an Android device. On the other hand, Senegal is the country with the most iOS users, with 19% of the respondents owning an iPhone.

A majority of players across Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Cameroon play offline, at 57%. This is particularly prominent in Cameroon, with 66% of the respondents playing offline versus 34% online. It's more balanced in Côte d'Ivoire (57% offline vs 43% online) and Senegal (54% offline vs 46% online).

Over 40% of players across the respondents have downloaded less than five games over the past 12 months. 28% of the respondents had downloaded between five and ten games.

Looking at spending habits in the three countries, Côte d'Ivoire is the place where most players have already spent money on a game, at 57%. The percentage fell to 52% in Cameroon, and 40% in Senegal.

Among people who have already spent money on a game, players in Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire primarily use mobile payment options. In Senegal however, players tend to use payment cards. Not having a bank card was cited as the primary reason in all three countries for not spending money on a game.

Looking at players' favourite game models, free-to-play was preferred, whether with ads (at 34% on average between the three countries, with a high majority in Senegal at 45%) or without ads with paid options (29%). This was followed by subscription models (24%) and paid games without ads (12%).

When naming the latest games they had played, the most common answers were EA Sports FC, Call of Duty, Free Fire, Ludo King, and Temple Run.

A large majority of the respondents (over 60%) have never played an African-developed game. Over 80% said that the reason they haven't is because they have never heard of an African game.

Adventure and sport games were mentioned primarily as the three countries' favourite genres.

The report was conducted by Game Hub Senegal from July 21 to August 28, 2023. 785 people were interviewed for this report, split fairly equally among the three countries (254 for Senegal, 255 for Côte d'Ivoire, and 276 for Cameroon). It's worth noting that a high percentage of men took part – roughly 80% of the respondents were men.

Game Hub Senegal was created in June 2023, the result of a partnership between the French Embassy in Senegal and game studio Masseka. We talked to the studio's founder following the announcement, Teddy Kossoko, who told us more about his push to build a game development hub in Dakar, and lifting up the industry in West Africa.

To read more on the games industry across the African continent, we recently took a deep dive into the Africa Games Industry Report, which released in the aftermath of Africa Games Week last December.

At the event, panels discussed the opportunity for games developed on the continent and the challenges of Africa's digital creative ecosystem.

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This article was amended after publication to adjust the average number of offline players.

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Marie Dealessandri avatar
Marie Dealessandri: Marie joined in 2019 to head its Academy section. A journalist since 2012, she started in games in 2016. She can be found (rarely) tweeting @mariedeal, usually on a loop about Baldur’s Gate and the Dead Cells soundtrack. GI resident Moomins expert.
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