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Video gaming open revenue doors for tech savvy entrepreneurs

The global video gaming industry has been on an upward trajectory recording billions in earnings every year, and as Rwanda now records impressive internet literacy and penetration thanks to an internet explosion a new crop of young IT savvy Rwandese are positioning themselves to earn from the multi-billion trade.

At almost every cyber cafe in town, or building in Rwandan suburbs, is a special zone set for playing video games in what the owners say has become their latest cash cow. Traditionally being a preserve of children from well to do backgrounds, the video games are now attracting even teenagers and youth in their 20’s with disposable income.

The trade has become more lucrative that the surfing that takes places in the same cyber cafe’s that houses these video games. “The beauty with these games is that we charge per a game played and not in minutes like is the case with browsing. There are games like wrestling that takes just ten minutes. Those playing have to pay Sh100 per game irrespective of how long or short it will take,”said Innocent Thioneste who runs Alpha Technologies in Kigali.

The one roomed cyber cafe has the video game unit occupying half of the room. But Katha would eventually hope to phase out the cyber cafe completely and remain with the video game unit which he says is more lucrative. “You see on a good day I make upto $50 on video games alone, the maximum I can get with the cyber cafe is just $20,”he further added.

It is this burgeoning demand for video games that has now inspired young tech savvy Rwandese to localize the gaming craze and reap from it. And although the country is yet to break even in the sector, baby steps by daring entrepreneurs are finally paying off.

Bernard Shyaka, chief executive gamer at Vintage Ltd, a video gaming and computer business is one such entrepreneur and among the pioneer local game developers in the country. Having quit a lucrative job at a VoIP telecommunication company, he partnered with a friend to found Vintage Limited that has become a household name in developing locally appealing games and reaping big from them.

Although he wouldnt reveal how much the company is worth, a close check on the number of games and game sales they make and requests they receive from the country and regionally reveal that it is a multi million venture. “The appeal that gaming has on the young people is the same as the obsession the middle class has with state of the art mobile phones. What’s more, young people are known to dream big so if you give them a chance to to do things in their living rooms that they would not be able to do in real life you have them for keeps. Which is how gaming developers locally are earning money,”said Bernard.

He further adds that PC games, X box and Playstation games are currently on unprecedented demand, a trend they have noticed and are angling to tap.

It is this impressive growth in the video gaming industry in Rwanda that is being touted as the beginning of a revolution in the rest of Africa, if Kenya’s previous innovations are anything to go by. According to global surveys, cumulatively, people spend about 3 billion hours per week playing online games a further incentive for game developers.

Shyaka predicts high-end, locally developed games in five years and more collaboration with the already established international companies and dreams of eventually taking his company to the heights of Electronic Arts. The American developer and publisher of famous video games like Need for Speed and The Sims raked in revenues of over $4billion in the 2011-2012 financial year alone.


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