Playing games to earn a living is not an entirely new concept. In fact, I would say it began with gambling and lotteries, but now it has gone way beyond that. It seems almost unbelievable, but now playing to earn has become legal and in the confines of a smartphone.
This impact of what we see today began with blockchain and then boom! We had crypto, NFTs, metaverse and web3 all thanks to the power of decentralization. Blockchain paved the way for the new generation of web3 games. In fact, you would need to grasp how blockchain games work to find it easy with web3 games.
Generally, the term “play-to-earn” spells out the meaning. It means you would literally play the game to earn money based on how you play. The new generation of web3 games even gives players the possibility of a steady income. Play-to-earn games support the development of in-game business models and economies which enable participants to generate income. Most popular example of play to earn games is Axie Infinity, based on the Ethereum blockchain.
Play-to-earn in Africa
Axie Afinty is accessible to people all over the world but it was not until 2021 that Africa gave birth to it’s very own. Metaverse Magna (MVM) is Africa’s first and largest crypto gaming Decentralized Automated Organisation (DOA). It gives everyone with internet access an opportunity to earn 1000 dollars a month for playing crypto games.
Typically one would need to purchase expensive gaming assets in order to gain access to games like Axie Afinity. This is almost impossible given the economic situation in Africa. Hence MVM set up a scholarship program wherein the expensive assets are already purchased and lent to players.
MVN is actually a venture established by Yele Badamo’s Nestcoin. It has succeeded in paving the way for Jambo to also emerge in Africa. In fact, Yele Badamosi the CEO, believes that the gaming innovation can lead to mass adoption of crypto in Africa.
“We believe Play-to-Earn has the potential to drive mass adoption of crypto in Africa, approximately 40% of 1.2 Billion Africans are below the poverty line so the opportunity to help 250M gamers on the continent earn up to $1,000 a month is a worthy mission in our quest to drive economic transformation on the continent”. He said.
The role of Jambo in Africa
Jambo, a Congo-based startup with $7.5million seed funding. The startup is developing an African based web3 superapp. It was co-founded by James Zhang and his sister Alice Zhang in November, 2021. They are both Congo-born Chinese, their family have lived in Congo for three generations. After graduating from NYU in 2017 with a degree in Computer science, he ran a crypto fund for four years.
James’s goal is to build the web3 superapp of Africa. The gaming world is thriving in other parts of the world and the major aim of Jumbo is to bring it home to Africa. James Zhang the CEO of Jambo said at Blockwork’s Empire podcast:
”A lot of people think of Africa as charity. They are not thinking about it in a constructive way, like a place to build. Any time you are building in Africa, it is a heavy operation. You are not dealing with the internet, you are dealing with people”
Africa is moving beyond the stereotype of a “dumping ground” of finished goods, rather it is now a place where ideas can be planted. Jambo and similar organizations are changing this narrative. Zang plans to partner with similar platforms already established in Africa.
However the fact remains that you can’t just barge in and show people the way out of their misery without stepping on toes. How welcoming would the government be of this idea? The Nigerian government for instance, still believes crypto is a fraud. Frankly, play-to-earn sounds even more suspicious and fraudulent than crypto trading. Interestingly, Zhang noted this on the podcast and he has put the government reaction into consideration which is very prudent. He said categorically:
“So anytime you pitch skill in any of these regions (Africa), you have to have a lot of political backing or you would see a lot of different frictions come your way. If you set out dealing with the money flow. You are messing with the government, you are dealing with a lot of things with constant changes and there’s a lot of friction. So we will partner with a lot of guys doing amazing things in Africa on Crypto etc.”
Partnership is pivotal, it would make penetration more flexible. To get to the core of Africa, Jambo must leverage on existing structures. For instance, Jambo plans to partner with telecom providers and social media companies to get an almost 70% discount and sell directly to its users at a 50% discount from the original cost. This would be one of the sources of their revenue since they don’t plan to take out players ‘ earnings.
James Zhang started, “The reason we can do that is via partnerships with these companies as we tokenize a part of their advertising budget and directly provide to the end-user,” he said. “Many Web2 incumbents or even Web3 are having a $100-200 user acquisition costs so we can lower that by order of magnitude by directly incentivising the end-user.”
The Role of Education in African Gaming
Jambo is going nowhere in Africa without education. So much awareness needs to be created to actualize the dream in Africa. If Jambo is going to be used by everyday people who have no knowledge of Web3. There is so much that can be achieved with education, hence James Zhang has made it the core of his game plan.
“Education is at the core of what we do because I think there is no shortcut in Africa. You have to educate the user base before you can think about monetising or start to acquire users at the end of the day. This is why we are launching classes with a full curriculum on Web3. We plan to launch that in more than five universities in Africa by the end of Q1,” he said.
Educating the young populace about Web3 and decentralization is the core of Web3 startups in Africa. Nest-Coin for instance raised $6.4 million to push the knowledge of Web3 into the continent. Jambo is doing the same with it’s 10-week programs available at Universities across 600+ physical partner locations.
A lot lies ahead for Africa. It is indeed a fertile ground everyone is suddenly willing to build on. The benefits are glaring; a better economy, employment and alleviation of poverty. What could possibly go wrong? It would be unwise for any developer in Africa to ignore this question. The power of centralised finance still has a stronghold in Africa. Uprooting it would take time and strategy.