For several years now, the popularity of digital gaming has been on the rise across Africa, and here in Zimbabwe, there’s been a noticeable growth in several gaming verticals. As they do across the globe, sectors like video gaming, mobile gaming, iGaming and eSports are all playing an essential role in boosting the profile of the gaming industry throughout Zimbabwe.
In this article, we’ll explore these key verticals and take a closer look at the state of the gaming industry in Zimbabwe.
Mobile gaming has emerged as one of the fastest-growing segments of Zimbabwe’s growing gaming industry. With over 10 million mobile phone subscribers in the country, the mobile platform has undoubtedly become increasingly popular due to its accessibility and affordability.
According to a report by Statista, the revenue generated from mobile games in Zimbabwe amounted to USD 5.5 million in 2020, with a projected growth rate of 5.5% between 2021 and 2025. Games like Candy Crush, Temple Run, and PUBG Mobile are among the most popular titles, thanks to their easy-to-play formats and free-to-play or freemium business models. Plus, these games’ relatively low data consumption makes them accessible to a wider demographic of gamers, including those with limited internet connectivity — a common issue in Zimbabwe.
Classic video gaming has also enjoyed significant growth in the country in recent years. While they’re not as accessible or as affordable as smartphones, consoles and PCs do have a loyal following in Zimbabwe. The PC gaming community, for instance, has already begun to open gaming cafes and other venues and events in which groups of players can come together and participate in multiplayer activities.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the video gaming market in Zimbabwe is expected to grow by 5.3% by 2025. Furthermore, according to Statista, the entire gaming industry in the country is expected to be worth $54.56 million by the end of 2023, although mobile gaming will still come out on top with projected annual revenues of $34.92 million by the end of the year. User penetration, meanwhile, will likely rise to 28% by 2027.
Given that iGaming is a relatively new gaming vertical in Africa and that it doesn’t have the more widespread, mainstream appeal that mobile and video gaming has due to necessary age restrictions, the sector has still managed to achieve substantial growth in Zimbabwe. The number of online casinos, sports betting sites and real money gaming apps has increased considerably in recent years, as has the variety of games that are available to Zimbabweans to access on various digital devices.
For instance, the centuries-old card game of blackjack is hugely popular in Western markets, where it’s playable on leading casino sites like PokerStars Casino in a number of exciting formats. Zimbabweans can also play this classic game, either on stand-alone mobile gaming apps or via offshore gaming platforms.
It’s sports betting, however, that is currently the most popular form of iGaming in the country, with both local operators and international brands launching sites and apps that attract local punters with their bonuses and promotions. According to a report by Zion Market Research, Zimbabwe’s iGaming sector will likely grow at a rate of 6.2% over the next five years.
Across the globe, pro-competitive gaming is fast becoming a mainstream activity, with eSports now being compared to traditional sports in many leading gaming regions. In Zimbabwe, there’s a clear passion and enthusiasm for the pursuit among the country’s gaming community, who are looking for ways to enjoy gaming as a social experience.
While many of the tournaments and events that occur in the country happen at a grassroots level, several organisations have been set up to promote the development of competitive gaming, such as Esports Zimbabwe. Two local players have even begun to make names for themselves on the international scene: Romeo and baron_rojo have both won prizes competing in PUBG Mobile Star Challenge and PUBG Mobile Pro League recently.
According to NewZoo, Zimbabwe’s eSports sector will undergo further growth and expansion in the coming years, with the market expected to increase by a CAGR of 9.9% by 2028.