Maliyo Games: “We see a huge opportunity for mobile gaming in Africa”

We see many Nigerian ventures sign up to the VC4Africa platform. Maliyo Games is among some of these outstanding initiatives, as they are creating online games aimed at Africa. VC4Africa spoke to the Lagos-based co-founder Hugo Obi. “The African narratives, characters, environments and sound in our games tell their own stories and the locals love it.”

How did Maliyo Games come into existence?

“Maliyo Games originated from a passion for creating web and mobile content. Africa is currently in the midst of an internet content revolution, driven by people like us. I personally been watching the African mobile and web content space for the last 2 years. And after much analysis, I decided casual browser and mobile games are an untapped niche, thus Maliyo Games was born.”

Please describe your games and how you get inspiration for them?

“Our games are a reflection of what we see living in Nigeria. They are a representation of the everyday lives and experiences of Africans. We thought it would be great to digitalize those truths. Looking at the city of Lagos alone, there’s so much we can create. Our current titles are a presentation of what is possible in this market. The narratives, characters, environments and sound tell their own stories and the locals love it.”

Who are your examples?

“Mobile gaming presents a huge opportunity for casual gaming in Africa. We look to leading gaming companies such as GREE and DNA as we develop and evolve our business model at Maliyo. We are also exploring gaming studios in South East Asia and other emerging economies as their gamers culture and lifestyle aligns more with those of everyday Africans.”

Why do you think the African audience is looking for African games instead of Farmville or Mafia Wars?

“It’s not so much what they are looking for, more what is being pushed to them. Our games ‘Okada Ride’, ‘Mosquito Smasher’ and ‘Adanma’ have far more local relevance than Mafia Wars. Nigerian music and Nollywood movies have a strong appeal to the local and diasporan consumers. We are riding this trend and thus far we are seeing traction.”

Who are in your team and why?

“Our team are diverse in gender, nationality and geographic location. We’ve built Maliyo Games to operate in the cloud; this means we have contributions from 5 different continents. At the moment, our Lagos in-house team is made up of cartoonists, script writers, user experience and user interface designers. Game development is managed by a team of developers based in India.We’ve chosen our team based on their expertise, passion and efficiency.”

What is your revenue model?

“The global gaming market generated US$82bn in 2011. With an African population of 1 billion with the growing internet and mobile penetration numbers, Maliyo Games offers a simple proposition for consumers on the continent: create locally relevant gaming content that is available on web and mobile.

Maliyo is still pre-revenue. We understand the traditional revenue models for gaming such as in and around game advertising, in-game/app purchases, merchandizing etcetera. However, this is Africa and the mainstream business/revenue model might not be applicable. For now, we are focused on building more content and creating a community around our titles. Revenue follows compelling products and we are planning on creating appealing content.”

Interview by ABN Digital with Maliyo co-founders Hugo Obi and Oluseye Soyode-Johnson.

You are currently looking for investors. What are you looking for and what can you offer them?

“Yes, we are looking for investors. We are looking for people who have a passion for Africa, an understanding of the tech eco-system especially in Silicon Valley and are not afraid to get their hands dirty.”

What are your future plans?

“We are working on our Facebook app & our first mobile title as we speak. Expect both to be live in Q3 of 2012.”

How do you see the game market in Africa evolve in the coming years?

“This market is going to be defined by content. Maliyo is currently a frontrunner, but we expect the competitive landscape to evolve rapidly. We are located in Africa’s most lucrative market for mobile devices and Internet content consumption. We expect an influx of content creators.”

Find more information about Maliyo Games on their VC4Africa venture page.