Sony Bets Big on Africa’s Gaming Industry with Investment in Carry1st

sony-carry1st

Sony is making a major play to tap into Africa’s booming gaming market by investing in Cape Town based startup Carry1st.

The deal marks Sony’s first foray into Africa through its new $10 million venture fund Sony Innovation Fund: Africa.

Strategic Partnership to Expand PlayStation and Mobile Gaming

Sony acquired a stake in Carry1st through its venture capital arm, the Sony Innovation Fund.

While full financial details were not disclosed, the two companies will partner on commercial opportunities around gaming in Africa.

Carry1st convinced Sony that Africa represents the next major growth market for gaming.

With console and mobile gaming rapidly rising across the continent, Sony hopes to use the partnership to widen the reach of PlayStation in Africa.

The companies are still in early exploratory stages of the collaboration.

However, potential areas of focus include:

  • Supporting PlayStation’s go-to-market strategy in Africa
  • Leveraging Carry1st’s digital payments platform Pay1st to enable new monetization models
  • Tapping into the informal “grey market” for consoles imported from abroad

Carry1st – Leading African Gaming Startup

Founded in 2018, Carry1st has quickly emerged as a leading mobile gaming company in Africa.

The startup builds casual puzzles and social games tailored specifically for African audiences.

Carry1st also operates an online marketplace to distribute third-party titles from major developers like Activision and Riot Games.

They bring major Western gaming franchises like Call of Duty Mobile and Valorant to Africa.

The company’s revenues grew almost 9x between 2021 and 2023.

Through its localized payment system Pay1st, Carry1st gives African users options to pay for games not typically available on the continent.

This helps address challenges like limited credit card penetration.

Developing Original Games and IP

While Carry1st has focused on publishing to date, they now plan to develop original games and intellectual property starting in 2024.

Carry1st is currently working on its first three original titles.

Though early in development, the company believes its initial self-developed game will launch within the year.

Creating homegrown African IP enables Carry1st to better serve local user preferences.

Sony’s investment and support will be key in bringing these games to market.

Betting on Africa’s Over $1 Billion Gaming Industry

Research predicts gaming revenue in Sub-Saharan Africa will top $1 billion in 2024 for the first time.

Several factors point to massive growth potential:

  • Very young population with increasing internet and smartphone penetration
  • Maturing payment infrastructure as digital wallets expand
  • Africans spending more time gaming – now over 2 hours per day on average

Sony is not the only global gaming player taking notice of Africa’s potential.

US giant Google and Epic Games also invested huge sums in Nigerian animation studio Maliyo Games.

Such investments reflect a growing industry consensus that Africa represents an underserved but highly promising gaming market.

Sony’s African Gaming Play

Sony’s strategic partnership with Carry1st represents a long-term bet on Africa as an emerging gaming hotspot.

The collaboration will support PlayStation’s expansion and unlock new monetization avenues through digital payments.

With Carry1st developing original IP, Sony also gains a window into authentically African game development.

For Carry1st, Sony represents the latest high-profile investor alongside names like Andreessen Horowitz, Bitkraft Ventures, Google, Riot Games, and rapper Nas. 

As the continent’s gaming market balloons, Sony has positioned itself alongside a leading local player.

Source: CNBC


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