African gaming looks set to raise its game with Kulaya.com raising seed stage investment, giving US$2 million valuation

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Until recently, the African gaming sector has been largely a small number of dedicated and enthusiastic developers in search of a business model. This week’s announcement that Nigeria’s Kulaya.com has raised small seed funding could be a flash in the pan but might also be the start of the development of a more prosperous games sector. Russell Southwood spoke to the Head of Kulaya, Kunle Ogungbamila.

Kulaya.com started in August last year and launched its website in October. According to Ogungbamila:”It came about from a discussion with Jason Njoku (iROKO Partners, who chairs Kulaya). It was a gaping hole that was not filled and we bounced the idea around”.

From a standing start it now has 60 games, which are easy to play casual games that are delivered through the website portal. My Oga @ the Top, which was released mid-last month, was played 60,000 times within the first 72 hours. Overall, it will soon hit 100,000 uniques and that is just on the website portal. Currently the games can be used for free.

The business model is being developed and it will be offering competitive gaming:”Users will buy tokens to enter skills-based competitions and we would take a percentage of what players have paid. Users will need to put a certain sum down, say N100, and will be able to win a cash prize of N500. Or they can up the ante and put down a larger sum to win a bigger prize.”

This sounds a bit like gambling?:”No, it’s not exactly gambling as it’s based on skills and players will be matched up with those who have similar skills.”

Currently it’s largely focused on Nigeria but before the end of the year, it will be rolled out across Nigeria. At present, around 30-40% of its 98,000 uniques are from outside Nigeria:”Users are coming from places like Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, and Kenya.”

It’s currently not on mobile platforms although it is currently in discussion with the handset vendors. The current income split with mobile operators – unless things change – will mean that it would not be profitable to go down that route.

According to Ogungbamila :“The African narrative is what fuels Kulaya-developed games and it has proved popular with gamers at home and abroad. Kulaya 2.0, launching this week, sees a shift from an advertising play to a hybrid commerce platform and takes African gaming to the next level”.

Meanwhile across the continent in Kenya, Nathan Masyuko, NextGen is getting a computer games league off the ground, where a combination of cash and in-kind sponsorship will support player teams who will act as sponsor brand ambassadors. See video clip interview by clicking here:

Also, Wesley Kirinya, Leti Games, whose environmental game Haki has had 300,000 downloads is shortly to launch another game based on African myths and legends (like Anansie). It will also be accompanied by comics based around the game topics.
See video clip interview by clicking here:

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