SA game developer and co-founder of QCF Design, Danny Day has shared his views on the SA gaming industry and the challenges of being a game designer on the tip of Africa.
“Culturally, lots of people in SA don’t understand games as a medium, so that can make it difficult to find clients,” said Danny Day, “and when you do, they tend to have unreasonable expectations.”
Day explained that non-tech-savvy media has difficulty embracing the gaming scene in South Africa. He also added that many aspiring devs are getting the wrong advice due to “isolation-based” issues, and that “isolation also tends to lead to really, really bad advice.”
“Way too many young game developers and designers get told they need to learn C++ and write an engine because they’re listening to people who have absolutely no relevant experience.”
Day added that the internet has helped remedy this though, as it gives local devs options in development tools, and a way to get their projects out there, although it only goes so far to interact with global audiences.
“The biggest hurdle we face these days is getting overseas to trade shows and conferences, which are worth their weight in gold (and travel time).”
As for the SA gaming market as a whole, Day says that a new take on the competitive gaming segment would benefit the industry.
“Get rid of the MSSA and focus on growing audiences for competitive gaming instead of trying to fleece players for membership dues,” said Day.
While the industry is healthy, Day elaborated on the point that there is still much more room to grow.
“The distributors are doing okay, retail stores are growing locally, our internet access is getting better. These are all good things,” said Day. “That doesn’t change the fact that the local gaming market is tiny though. Sure, I wish it were bigger, but from a business perspective there’s no reason to target the local market in the hope that being from SA is a good thing in their eyes.”
“Hopeful young game developers always think they’ll get super-rich if they make GTA-JHB or the perfect Morabaraba implementation, but they never take into account that they’re competing with all the AAA games Megarom and co. bring in every month for a very limited pool of game-buying cash in local pockets.”
Day re-emphasised the use of the internet and explained that SA devs need to find their unique idea to compete on a big platform.
“It’s much better to find something you’re really good at doing and compete on that scale globally, and like I said: The internet makes that pretty easy these days.”
Danny is also involved over on Make Games SA, a platform that offers support for SA’s aspiring game developers; whether you are one yourself, or merely have a passing interest in the hobbyist pursuit.