Africa is the final frontier for Basically something. Mobile gaming is no exception. For a continent home to more than 1 billion Millennials and Gen Zers, mobile gaming has never happened Really rebounded despite the continent experiencing rapid economic growth and smartphone adoption.
Two problems have proven to be detrimental to this growth: distribution and payments. With fragmented and unresolved ecosystems for distribution and digital payments, game studios have found it difficult to serve African consumers and make tons of money from it. Carry1st is a mobile game publishing platform that addresses this issue and today announced the completion of its Series A round valued at $ 6 million.
This month last year we reported that the company had just made a $ 2.5 million investment. CRE Ventures led this roundThis time the company, with offices in Cape Town and New York, brought along a blue-chip group of investors from the gaming, media and fintech sectors.
US VC company Convoy Ventures led the Serie A round. The Company is known for its investment in the video game industry’s infrastructure, technology, tools and platforms. Riot games (Developer of League of Legends), Tokyo’s Akatsuki Entertainment Technology Fund (the company behind Dragon Ball Z), Raine Ventures and Fintech VC TTV Capital participated.
Carry1st was founded by Cordel Robbin-Coker, Lucy Hoffman and Tinotenda Mundangefupfu The company started out as a game studio and developed and launched its own mobile games. But a projection of what it might be in the long run made the company switch tactics.
Instead of the studio model (which is very popular with game companies in Africa), Carry1st wanted to become a regional publisher and thus opened the continent to international studios. The company also helps local studios who find it difficult to develop games with global appeal by partnering them with strong operators.
“We learned that African users don’t need their own games. They want to play the best games in the world, ”CEO Robbin-Coker told ProWellTech.
COO Hoffman said the company is offering its partners a full-stack publishing platform. It also takes care of localization, distribution, user acquisition, monetization and customer experience for studios and licenses their games to exclusive, long-term contracts.
“We finance the acquisition of users and thus the games be played by as many users as possible and send our partners a license fee in return for being able to use their IP, ”said Hoffman.
This is somewhat similar to the launch of Tencent-Backed Sea Limited (Garena’s parent company). The company was the publisher of League of Legends across Southeast Asia, but launched its own game, Free Fire. Now the company has built the largest consumer payments and e-commerce platform in the region, now valued at over $ 130 billion. Carry1st aims to do the same for Africa.
While there aren’t many details about its ecommerce activity, Carry1st addresses payments and difficult monetization issues by partnering with some fintechs like Paystack, Safaricom, and Cellulant. These partnerships were instrumental in developing the internal payment platform Pay1st, which allows customers to pay in their preferred way. “For global studios, this is the difference between making money and not making money,” added Robbin-Coker.
The demand for Carry1st has increased fast. Since its launch last year, the company has signed seven games with well-known mobile game studios. These include Sweden’s Raketspel (the company has more than 120 million downloads in its portfolio), Cosi Games and Ethiopia’s Qene Games.
All of these registrations were made in 2020 and the catalyst for that growth has been pandemic lockdowns. The African mobile gaming market has always pointed to a strong growth market, however be forced inside certainly mobile usage and games exploded.
People who may not have before needed a cell phone now to rely on to keep in touch with family and friends. For the average first-time user of a smartphone, there is a natural tendency to explore the fun things that are available on their device.
“TypicallyThe first thing people do when they get their first smartphone is chat with friends and play games. This is the same all over the world – Africa is no different. Because of this, we’re seeing more and more mobile players across Africa, ”noted Robbin-Coker.
The company has expanded its team from 18 to 26 in 11 countries with employees from Carlyle, King, Jumia, Rovio, Socialpoint, Ubisoft and Wargaming – a testament to the company’s global ambitions to be a top gaming publisher.
Expanding the team that spans product, engineering and growth departments is one way Carry1st will make the new investment to use. The company also plans to forge new partnerships with global game studios while launching and scaling existing games such as Carry1st Trivia and All-Star Soccer.
With this investment, Carry1st raised a total of $ 9.5 million. Robbin-Coker said her investment in the company would enable her to “delight millions of users across Africa and around the world”.
Carry1st is Konvoy Ventures first excursion in the African game market (the same applies to Riot Games) and representatives of both teams (Konvoy Managing Partner) Jackson Vaughan and Riot Games Head of Corporate Development Brendan Mulligan) believe the company is clearly Solving the distribution and gaming experience problems of the continent. Vaughan will also join the company’s board of directors.
Africa’s game industry has In earlier times there was a lack of innovation. While we’ve seen companies try to change the narrative, most have worked as studios. Carry1st is one of the few companies to run a hybrid model, but the end game for the company is to be one of the dominant consumer internet companies in the region.
“We believe Social games and payments are the best first step, but we have very big ambitions. If we do this, we will catalyze massive growth in the digital ecosystem in the region, creating tons of quality jobs in the process. We believe all The ingredients are there – we want to be the catalyst, ”said Hoffman.