Sony is eyeing Africa as the next big investment in gaming. The company has invested an undisclosed amount of money into Carry1st, a video game studio based in Cape Town. The money has come out of Sony’s Innovation Fund arm which is a division at the company that focuses on investing in new ventures to help grow various industries Sony has its hands in.
According to Carry1st, the investment will see the two companies explore a range of commercial opportunities together. While there’s currently no exact plan in place, Carry1st says the companies are in the “exploratory stages” of the new partnership.
Carry1st CEO and co-founder Cordel Robbin-Coker says the company began talks with Sony back in 2023. He pitched that Africa was the next big market to grow in the video game space. While Sony has cemented its place in larger markets including tier-one and tier-two territories, he wanted the company to start thinking about where the next billion gamers would come from. He says Africa is that market.
Robbin-Coker says that Africa has an incredible console opportunity available for Sony. He says countries such as Nigeria, Morocco and Algeria have seen a rise in console adoption over the past few years. He says that investing in new ways for customers to obtain video game consoles is key to this partnership. By the sound of things, the investment will help make the PlayStation brand more accessible to African gamers.
One method is to help eliminate “grey” console imports. Many gamers in Africa purchase consoles from import companies without warranty and support. That’s because an official distribution channel isn’t available. Unlike in South Africa where we have Gamefinity who make our lives easier, other African countries lack these channels. As a result, gamers are forced to purchase grey stock and pay premiums just to play games.
Carry1st is hoping to leverage its popular digital payment system to get gamers on board. The company has off-beat payment options available when purchasing digital vouchers and other content from its store. This includes payment methods such as M-Pesa, mobile wallets and other local-specific finance options including Pay1st.
“Our hope is that we can help [Sony] to expand their reach of PlayStation in the region and support them in a range of ways, including broader go-to-market strategies, as well as digital payments,”
If Sony could set up more channels in Africa and provide hardware and support to rising gamer-centric countries, this would definitely benefit the company. At the moment, it doesn’t seem like this partnership will deliver any digital opportunities when it comes to video game development and publishing. However, Carry1st has confirmed that the company is developing its three new games. So these titles might leverage Sony’s influence in the region.
Carry1st usually helps develop and scale games for other companies. It has worked with the likes of Activision and Riot Games in the past. Robbin-Coker says he is “very confident” about the road map for the company’s first original titles. He says the company is on track to launch its debut first-party game sometime in 2024. Little is known about the project and what platforms it is in development for. Given Carry1st’s large mobile focus, it might be a mobile game.