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Cartoon 2023 – Cartoon Next

Rapporto industria: Animazione

Thierry Baujard e Teddy Kossoko esaminano le opportunità di collaborazione tra studi di animazione e gaming africani ed europei

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Cartoon Next si è focalizzato sull'Africa, un mercato complesso con grandi creativi e una domanda in crescita, che deve ancora superare la mancanza di tutoraggio e opportunità di networking

Thierry Baujard e Teddy Kossoko esaminano le opportunità di collaborazione tra studi di animazione e gaming africani ed europei
Thierry Baujard e Teddy Kossoko durante il panel (© Cartoon)

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How to unleash the creative potential of Africa’s animation and gaming industries? That was the main question tackled by Thierry Baujard, of Germany’s Spielfabrique, and Teddy Kossoko, of France’s Masseka Game Studio, who held a talk titled “What Next for Africa as the Industry Develops and Grows?” during day 2 of this year’s Cartoon Next (18-20 April). The event was moderated by Christophe Erbes.

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In his contribution, Baujard first touched upon the activities of Spielfabrique, which he described as “a video-game ecosystem catalyst based in Germany mentoring indie studios through international programmes [the European Games Accelerator, the European Games Co-Production Market and the African Games Co-Production Market]” and “creating resources for the financing of video games [the European Games Funding Guide]”.

Baujard pointed out how Europe’s indie gaming sector is underdeveloped and unstructured in comparison with film, even though it is a young, fast-growing industry. Spielfabrique began its activities in Africa in 2019, with a pilot project involving three studios (Work’d, Bonobo and Kayfo), the Eurafrican Coproduction Platform. The experiment then developed into the African Games Co-Production Market, involving nine studios and organised in collaboration with Johannesburg’s Goethe-Institut. At the end of 2022, Spielfabrique conducted a feasibility study on the gaming and animation industries in Africa, followed by its attendance of the Africa Games Week in Cape Town.

The African Co-Production Market covered a number of activities, including mentorship in game design, gameplay, monetisation and entrepreneurship, with the aim being to attract policy makers and public institutions based in Africa and Europe to back the co-production of gaming and immersive content, and help creators access funding through partners and co-producers. The core idea was to create a bridge between developers and studios in Africa and Europe.

Baujard showed off two successful examples of projects produced through the market. The first was a video game based on the South African short Rapulani!, which involved co-operation between South African studios Alkemaixe (in charge of writing the game) and Space Salad (which offered its sound and scoring expertise) together with Ireland’s Whitepot Studios, which served as a Unity expert. The second project was a game based on the animated feature Trash [+leggi anche:
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, produced by Rome-based Al One together with Tunisia’s Lanterns Studios. The two firms collaborated on many levels, including AI and multiplayer programming, 3D animation, body-performance mocaps, level design, texturing, audio and VFX.

The untapped potential of the African market is vast, Baujard added. He mentioned that 83% of video-game consumers in the world are aged from 25-35, and now, 53% of Africans are under 20, projected to top 72% in 2050. Thus, 35% of the world’s youth population will be African.

The population structure and growing access to mobile internet will help stakeholders access a more scalable, larger market in terms of volumes. He also noted how the gaming sector, however, is still more developed and easier to access than animation, and how “mobile is king” throughout the continent. Among the key territories for business opportunities, Baujard highlighted Tunisia, Senegal, Kenya, South Africa and Ivory Coast.

Some of the main challenges include transparency, payment issues when it comes to the monetisation of content, a strong lack of knowledge of and data from the market, legal issues between local governments and international platforms, a rapidly growing need for education and networking opportunities, the very limited access to big screens, and the slow growth of internet and telco penetration. That being said, Baujard stressed European producers’ strong appetite for new African stories, which can bring in “diverse, fresh ideas”.

Later, Kossoko spoke about his work on Gara, described as “a pan-African edutainment platform that facilitates the distribution and monetisation of digital games and comics everywhere in Africa”. The effort, Kossoko explained, was born as a response to the need to implement a business model that would be sustainable and beneficial to African creators, first and foremost.

In 2022, the African share of the gaming market accounted for only 1%, he underlined, while the global gaming industry is worth $203.1 billion, and $91 billion of this revenue are generated through mobile games.

The African market can be defined as an “Android continent”, with over 600 million users having an Android smartphone, reaching a 55% penetration rate. Meanwhile, 50% of the continent is currently covered by 4G.

Africa’s tiny share within the global market is mostly led by South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya. While the digital market is growing, many online stores and platforms are still inaccessible on the continent. Moreover, less than 10% of the population owns a bank account, even though mobile money payments are quite common (600 million mobile money accounts were registered in 2022). The local scene is still quite small, with the whole continent hosting around 150 studios and producing 100 games per year. Gara is trying to support the growth of the sector by merging the expertise of gaming, distribution and fintech, and offering its users a catalogue of over 3,000 pieces of content.

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