I am Ahmed Maawy, a developer with roots in Africa and I’m here to talk about how the Godot Engine presents a massive promise for Africa’s game development scene.

Africa’s Introduction to Game Development

Africa’s game development sector has only recently started growing because the World Wide Web – and open source technology has made it to every household just recently. But still, this is not without the challenges. We still face reliability issues when it comes to flawless internet access. It’s sometimes there, it sometimes is not there. Nonetheless, it’s come a long way. But what has the internet and open source got to do with all this? Well, simple. Too many game developers nowadays either use Unity or Unreal Engine. But these are not open-source technologies. However, they are freely available thanks to the mindset open source has introduced. Open source has been so impactful that even commercial entities are now offering free tools. Even if not totally free – they are very accessible even without paying a single dime.

Internet access has not just brought about tools for game developers, but access to YouTube videos, Udemy courses, and even freely available documentation. Anyone can now become a game developer in Africa. And it’s not just for PC, but for mobile and console platforms also. There’s never been a better time for those with a burning passion for game development. Right? Well – it depends.

The Challenges that come with access to tools and content on Game Development

This means everyone gets to become a developer. And it also means DRM platforms like Steam and App Stores on mobile devices get to make a killing out of hosting and monetizing your Game. Because too many people are publishing games. Every individual can now become what is known as an “indie developer.”

An article by Indie Games Heaven states that – 70% of all indie games are commercial failures. Of the 30% that are considered successful, only 7% of those games will generate enough revenue to fund a second project. And according to VGInsights – over 50% of indie games on Steam have never made more than $4,000.

But then you ask. Why is this important for Africa? Well – because development is now a global affair thanks to the same highly available internet access. But that is just the start. African developers face peculiar problems. Which includes among other things – access to high end game development infrastructure (be it laptops or even desktops). Unfortunately, also in the African context, chances also that upcoming developers can fund themselves to develop decent games are much slimmer.

Which is why I eyed the Godot Engine as a solution

You see – proprietary engines like Unity and Unreal are feature packed . They have also enabled a lot of indie developers as well as some of the leading studios to release high caliber games. And this can be a blessing, but engines like Unity and Unreal also present two further hurdles for developers especially based in Africa.

First of all, the engines themselves are very intensive on CPU and memory. It is hard enough to run Unity on an 8GB RAM machine, and I am not sure Unreal can even function on such a low specification. Not to mention the amount of processing needed by these tools to get the environment to function. A lot of developers in Africa are not able to get machines that can be specced to be even close to a gaming laptop.

Secondly, especially considering the newer Unity plan pricing and packaging updates – sustainability as an indie developer or game development studio in Africa is starting to become a bigger problem.

Godot Engine solves both these problems for the African continent.

But is it the right choice considering Unity Engine or Unreal Engine’s track record?

Of course, yes. Just because it’s not as prominent, does not mean it’s not capable. It’s come a long way in the past few years. Even publishers like Raw Fury have released hit games using the Godot Engine. Two such games include Cassette Beasts and Dome Keeper.

Godot Engine can do games for PC, for Mobile and can also do games for Console. Although console ports are a process still, players like W4 Games are looking to resolve that.

Beyond that – there is the promise Open Source Presents for Africa

Africa has a peculiar environment. A good number of players have seen it necessary to tailor make game content for the African continent. But the platforms we use to develop games – especially the proprietary ones – can mostly cater for the peculiarities of the developed markets.

Having technology that is open source allows our very talented engineers to tinker the game engine cores to work to integrate with infrastructure that is catered for Africa’s needs. And in the process create standards in game technology that can unite Africans – to produce and consume content that feels close to home.

Finally.. Let’s Talk

I believe there is massive potential for the continent with technologies like Godot as well as other open source technologies. I would love to connect and discuss this further with other enthusiastic professionals. I am actively building a Godot Engine Community in Africa. The community has come a long way, we currently have close to 100 members on a WhatsApp group forming the initial community footprint. The Future of Africa with engines like Godot is bright for the gaming industry. Let’s find out how we can realize that together.