Africa is the world’s second-most populous continent, with almost 1.4 billion people calling it home. Nearly 50% of those use the internet on a regular basis, either on mobile or desktop devices. The percentage is much higher when it comes to African youth, which is why it’s no surprise that a major growth in eSports popularity is expected to happen on this continent.
In fact, the iGaming industry in Africa has already started its expansion. Africans love to watch eSports tournaments, as well as bet on eSports tournaments at sites like Paridirect.com. The number of professional eSports athletes from Africa is still low compared to other parts of the planet, but there are some clear signs that the number will increase.
There are already several professional teams and organizations in Africa that support and promote eSports, such as Mettlestate, VS Gaming, and the African Cyber Gaming League. These groups host tournaments and competitions, as well as provide training for players who are looking to make their iGaming dreams come alive.
As of 2023, most of those organizations focus only on a handful of video games, each of which has a huge followership in Africa. We’re now going to present you with those games, explaining why they’re so loved among African gamers.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive a.k.a. CS: GO is the most popular video game among Africans. Professional eSports players from Africa have won millions of dollars playing this game. One of the reasons why the first-person shooter game is incredibly popular among African gamers is that it can be played on a variety of platforms – Windows, OS X, Linus, PlayStation (PS 3), and Xbox 360.
Another reason why Africans love CS: GO is that this is an online multiplayer game, with millions of players around the world. What this means is that those who want to play this game can do it whenever they feel like it.
On top of everything, the success of African CS: GO players have also boosted the popularity of this game. South African eSports players have earned just under $900k, with players like Johnny “JT” Theodosiou and Aran “Sonic” Groesbeek making over $100k each.
The success of JT and Sonic has made people from all over the continent dream about following in their footsteps.
Overwatch, Dota 2, and Other Games
Africans seem to adore first-person shooter games. In addition to CS: GO, they also love Overwatch. Unlike the Counter-Strike game, this one isn’t based in the present, but in the 2070s. The gameplay revolves around two teams of heroes completing various objectives along the way.
Released in 2016, the first title in the Overwatch franchise is the one Africans love the most, although the popularity of Overwatch 2 is constantly increasing. Although launched only a couple of months ago, Overwatch has already become the favorite game of a number of African eSports athletes, although none of them hasn’t yet achieved much success globally in this game.
Then, there’s Dota 2, one of the most successful fantasy games in history. This multiplayer online battle arena was released in 2013, and over the last decade has become a staple in the world of eSports. There probably isn’t a single part of the planet where Valve’s product isn’t played, and Africa is no exception.
Other popular video games among African iGaming pros include StarCraft II, Age of Empires, Vallorant, and so on.
FIFA Franchise Cashing In on Africa’s World Cup Success
Although it’s far from being the most popular eSports game, FIFA has seen a major increase in popularity among African users in 2022. If you’re wondering what the reason is for this, the answer is the FIFA World Cup.
Taking place in Qatar in November/December 2022, the tournament featured five African nations. And one of those teams achieved historical success. The national selection of Morocco is what we’re talking about – the Atlas Lions became the first-ever African team to reach the semifinal of the World Cup.
Their achievement has awakened the love for soccer in Africa, which, in turn, has led to a growing interest in soccer video games. EA Sports-powered FIFA profited the most, especially its most recent couple of versions (e.g., FIFA 22 and FIFA 23). Other game developers saw an increase in the popularity of their games as well, most notably, Konami with its Pro Evolution Soccer (PES).
Apart from soccer, African gamers have also been playing many other sports games. EA Sports UFC 4 is particularly popular, especially after several African mixed martial artists achieved fame in the UFC – Kamaru Usman, Francis Ngannou, and others.
In conclusion, the African continent has seen significant growth in the esports industry in recent years. With the increasing availability of the internet and mobile devices, more and more people are becoming involved in competitive gaming. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of infrastructure and investment, and the industry is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, the potential for esports in Africa is huge, and as the industry continues to grow, it will play an increasingly important role in the continent’s economy and culture.