The African games co-production market presentation session by SpielFabrique took place online on the 25th of August, 2021. The presentation was done by Thierry Baujard, a co-founder at SpielFabrique which is a Franco-German accelerator focusing on young game studios. He explained the co-production market as a simple meeting space where people can network and develop projects together. 

SpielFabrique’s Offering

In order to facilitate networking between African and European studios, and collaborative project development, SpielFabrique will offer the following:

  • Mentorship in game design and business with a focus on monetization, marketing, financing and publishing. All of these are to ensure African studios are co-production ready. 
  • Uniting policymakers and public institutions from Africa and Europe to help through funding as well as facilitating meetings between different co-production studios.
  • Support in funding through their partners (German Federal Foreign Office, Ubisoft, Goethe Institut Johannesburg, Orange) and co-producers from Europe. “The European public money that is developing quite a lot at the moment in Europe is in fact accessible to Africans through local producers in the different European countries,” Thierry Baujard commented.

Objectives and Benefits to the Participants

  • Identify key players and challenges in the African gaming industry. Map games and immersive content companies in Africa to understand the potential as well as build the interest among public institutions towards growing this market in Africa.
  • Professionalize creative teams from Africa and help them through mentoring and connecting them to European partners.
  • Foster exchange of cross-cultural expertise, enable access to funding from European countries, facilitate the transfer of digital technology between the two continents as well as foster African-European co-productions to be produced and published worldwide.

During the session, a question from an attendee led Thierry to introduce the concept of reciprocal co-production common in the film and animation industry. This means a European studio could start by co-producing an African studio project. And the next time the European studio could do their own project with the African studio. 

Thierry mentioned they would add that to their objectives because it’s about building relationships so that they can continue working together even after this project is done.

SpielFabrique’s Pilot Project (2019-2020)

Their pilot project ran from 2019-2020 with the support of the Goethe Instituts in South Africa and Ethiopia. They got 67 applicants from 10 different countries. After the filtering process, they selected 3 African studios. 

6 months went into mentorship to refine the project; that is working on the pitch deck, financing, marketing, publishing strategies, and how to communicate about their projects. The 3 African studios participated in the European Games Co-Production Market in September 2020. At the moment, two of the African studios have started co-production with some companies in Europe, especially from France and Germany. 

The following are some insights from their pilot project:

  • A lot of companies that pitched their projects had rich African history and culture to share. This is something they would love to see this year too.
  • The projects were quite attractive for Global partnerships and distribution, as they found co-producers and people who were interested.
  • Mentorship is strongly needed especially on business topics and technology. In terms of game design, participants were quite advanced.
  • They realised there’s a need to identify more talent and expertise from Africa to strengthen the teams.
  • There’s a lack of funding from Africa.
  • The idea of balancing how to work between African and European studios came up: how they’d share their IPs, how they’d share the work, and where they’d find the talent.
  • There’s a trend where they saw a lot of animation companies going into games. The only challenge is there was a lack of programming expertise.
  • There are no standard deals and each co-producer’s work requirements will vary. However, SpielFabrique will give advice through lawyers and people who have done it already so that the participants do not forget to negotiate some important details.
  • Africans need to work on making the budget more efficient and therefore become cheaper to produce locally than when in Europe.

As a result of these insights, they presented to the chairman of the German Federal Foreign Office the idea of creating a dedicated co-production market between Europe and Africa that would support African studios to develop co-production and reach sustainability for their studios. They also have applied for funding in Germany to do that.

SpielFabrique’s Project (2021-2022)

  • The idea this year is to select 8-10 studios from Africa. 
  • They will offer cash prizes for the selected teams to finance their prototypes. 
  • They will offer a 6-month mentoring programme with international experts.
  • They will facilitate 1 co-production market in Germany that is dedicated to African and European studios.
  • They will provide follow-up support for teams and co-producers after finding each other at the co-production market.

The 2 Levels of Prototype Funding

There will be 2 levels of prototype funding:

  • The first prototype funding will be from the programme partners (Goethe Institut, Orange and Ubisoft). Its purpose is to help African studios get ready to approach European co-producers.
  • The second level of prototype funding will be through the co-producer where they will access prototype funding from Europe. In Europe, you can get concept funding, prototype funding and production funding.

Important Dates

Launch of call: 23rd September 2021

Deadline: 18th October 2021

Africa Games Week Webinar: 8th December 2021

Co-production Market in Germany: April 2022