Is Game Development a Viable Career in South Africa?

The video game industry at the time of writing in 2020 is worth 159.3 billion US dollars, of which 85% of revenue is generated by free-to-play games. Some of the biggest games known were developed in South Africa...

What is the video game industry worth?

Getting into video game development can seem like an incredibly ambitious dream for some people, especially when you’re a South African. After all, it’s easy to hear about games that took up to four years to create. You might think to yourself “How on earth could it be possible to sustain a company when a product only sees Return on Investment around every half-decade?”. The truth of the matter is that the video game industry at the time of writing in 2020 is worth 159.3 billion US dollars, of which 85% of revenue is generated by free-to-play games.

Is a career in video game development viable in South Africa?

Some of the biggest games known internationally were developed and designed in South Africa, these games include Broforce, Viscera Cleanup Detail, and Gorn. Although these games have done very well for their respective studios, game development is a much larger product than what you see on mainstream media. Dondoo Studios, The Boiler Room and Bizarreality are just a few of the many companies in South Africa that specialize in developing experiences for virtual and augmented reality. Video games are not just a way to play and have fun but can be an incredible tool for learning. A lot of other industries have started to notice this and are actively investing in these types of products.

What are some of the advantages of the video game industry?

The skills required for developing a game are multi-disciplinary. What this means is that not only do you learn programming skills, but you can develop 3D modeling and animation skills, as well as 2D artistic skills. You can learn and understand the basics of audio engineering or learn about video editing. A whole world of opportunities opens up to a game developer. They could become animators at studios like Chocolate Tribe, Triggerfish, or Black Ginger, for instance. Freelancing is also an incredibly viable option since the internet allows hard-working individuals to get connected with people internationally. 

The other advantage of game development is that the barrier for entry, at least monetarily, is pretty low. As a single developer, it is definitely possible to create games on a very tight budget. Games like Stardew Valley, My Friend Pedro, and Five Nights at Freddy’s are all games made mostly by single developers. Additionally, with mobile gaming making up 48% of the gaming market, publishing games has never been easier.

What does it take to become a video game developer?

The reality is that video game development is thriving, and it really doesn’t matter where you are, creating games is virtually accessible from anywhere at any time. At the end of the day, the success of the developer will be determined by the amount of passion and effort put into the product. Creating games is an incredibly difficult task, but skilled developers, who love the craft are able to do the work that they really enjoy and get paid for it.