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The shape of South Africa’s game dev landscape

The Interactive Entertainment South Africa group has launched a third industry survey (and the first not held under the Make Games SA banner), revealing plenty of insights into the local landscape.

31 active game development studios in the country responded to the survey, with these firms having directly created 255 jobs, the study found. The number of permanent jobs has seen a 16% increase, from 152 to 176 positions.

The value of these gaming studios was pegged at R100-million in 2015, making for an 85.6% jump over 2014. The study also found that these studios released 103 games in 2015.

In terms of location, Cape Town reigns supreme, with 17 studios calling the Mother City home. Johannesburg is in second place with six studios while Durban takes third place with two studios.

“Johannesburg had a massive decline in number of studios (down from 14 in 2014), but this is mainly attributed to a lot of the studios previously recorded in the surveys as identifying as ‘hobbyists’ now,” the survey found, adding that one studio also moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

A question of diversity

snail boy

Snail Boy

Despite growth in the percentage of females and people of colour in the industry compared to the previous year, the study noted that this was still sitting at 14% and 13% respectively.

This extended to ownership of studios as well, with 90% of studios being owned by white males. Two studios featured “100% black ownership” and one studio was owned by Indian or Asian males. No studios were owned by females, the study added.

“Steps need to be taken to try and change this, so that our industry is more inclusive and reflects the makeup of South Africa,” the IESA study noted.

Moving from ownership, the survey found that 76% of full-time employees in the industry were white males (down from 81%). White females accounted for 11%, black males made up 5% and Indian/Asian males accounted for 4%.

Local gaming studios make a surprisingly miniscule amount of money from South Africa

Studios were also asked to clarify what percentage of their 2015 revenue came from local sources.

“Approximately R19.4-million was generated from local sources. The clear majority of this was for services work or advertising games. A mere R72 700 was reported to come from the sale of games for entertainment of local IP,” the study elaborated.

In other words, sales of local games “for entertainment” in SA only account for 0.07% of the sector’s total revenue.

In terms of funding for local studios, the majority (72%) came from the companies’ reserves/savings, with crowd-funding, angel/seed investment and client investment accounting for 4% each. No funding came from the South African government.

PC was the preferred platform by local studios(64%), followed by iOS (23%) and Android (5%).

You can read the full report here.

Featured image: Stasis Steam page

Author | Hadlee Simons

Hadlee Simons
Terrible puns make Hadlee Simons difficult to work with, but he brings almost seven years of tech journalism experience to the table. When he's not at work or watching motorsport, he's in the foetal position on a jiu jitsu mat. More