Inside Nollywood's first game app—Aki and Pawpaw Epic Run

Nigerian movie producer, Play Network Africa has launched Aki and Pawpaw Epic Run, Nollywood's first game app modelled after the popular 2002 comedy; Aki Na Ukwa.

Inside Nollywood's first game app—Aki and Pawpaw Epic Run
Aki and Pawpaw Epic Run

"Say hello to the first Nollywood game app," Charles Okpaleke, the CEO of CEO Play Network Africa, tweeted on Thursday.

After seeing the tweet, I downloaded the game which is currently available on Google Playstore and App Store—with about a thousand downloads. Arguably the first Nollywood-themed game, it is name after the popular 2002 movie; Aki Na Ukwa comedy about two mischievous brothers, starring veteran Nigerian actors Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme.

The video game was developed by Play Network Studio, a leading Nigerian movie producer, in collaboration with Blueportal Software. In 2021, the studio acquired the rights to the Aki and Pawpaw and have also produced a remake of the 2002 movie which has been licensed by Netflix in the same year.

"This a pointer to something significant in Nigeria's creative sector: the need for a fusion of Nollywood and the gaming industry," Adedimeji Quayyim, Film Fellow with Inside Nollywood, said. "Much could be learnt from how Afrobeats is making headway in this regard, as seen in how Burna Boy's track on the Grand Theft Auto game or Davido's verse on PlayStation is making waves."

I played the Aki and Pawpaw Epic Run for the first time today.

If you have played mobile video games, I am sure you have played Subway Surfers, the endless runner game. Good! Aki and Pawpaw Epic Run is almost the same, just that the location is Nigerian; with settings in the East, Lasgidi (Lagos) and Sambisa (Borno). Also, the trailer I saw looked more Nigerian than the game itself, maybe I need to play more to unlock that theme.

The number of mobile gamers in sub-Saharan Africa has risen to 186 million people from 77 million in 2015, according to a 2021 study commissioned by Newzoo, a games analytics company and Carry1st, a South African gaming platform.

With 24 million gamers, South Africa tops the continent having 40% of its population playing followed by Ghana (27%) and Nigeria (23%) in second and third places respectively. Kenya and Ethiopia finish fourth and fifth in the continent with 22% and 13% of their population into gaming respectively.

95% of gamers play games on their smartphones.

According to Carry1st CEO, Cordel Robbin-Coker, "gaming in Africa is exploding. Crucially, this applies not only to people playing games, but also those willing to pay as well." The sector was one of the most funded in Q1 2023.

In Q1 2023, GBarena, an Egyptian e-sports platform, entered an agreement to acquire Tunisia-based Galactech in a share swap deal valued at $15 million. The deal is widely described as the "most strategic in the North African gaming market".

The number of mobile game users in Africa is projected to reach over 310 million by 2027, with annual revenue reaching $2.27 billion. "I think the gaming industry is a prime market Nollywood needs to tap into, and Play Network is creating that necessary nexus. This new game would further foster the industry's marketability, and also boost the market's march to global domination," Quayyim said.

Related Article: How Carry1st is driving growth in Africa's mobile gaming economy

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