Sony is making a bet to boost their reach in the African continent

Sony has strategically invested in Carry1st, a gaming startup based in Cape Town, South Africa, signaling a substantial commitment to Africa’s burgeoning video game industry. The undisclosed investment, made through Sony’s venture arm, the Sony Innovation Fund, marks the initiation of a strategic partnership with Carry1st. While specific details of the collaboration are currently limited, it is anticipated to encompass joint efforts in game development and the expansion of the PlayStation brand in the African market.

CEO and co-founder of Carry1st, Cordel Robbin-Coker, initiated talks with the Sony Innovation Fund nearly eight to nine months ago, emphasizing Africa as a pivotal market for video game growth. Robbin-Coker highlighted the untapped console potential in Africa, citing rising adoption rates in countries such as Nigeria, Morocco, and Algeria. Sub-Saharan Africa’s gaming industry is projected to surpass $1 billion in 2024, according to research from Carry1st and venture capital firm Konvoy.

As part of the partnership, Carry1st aims to assist Sony in extending the reach of PlayStation in Africa, supporting various initiatives such as go-to-market strategies and digital payment solutions. The collaboration aligns with Sony’s optimistic projection of selling a record 25 million PlayStation 5 units in the fiscal year 2023, anticipating Africa as a pivotal market for driving PS5 sales growth.

Carry1st’s expertise in adapting to the evolving console business model positions it to leverage the changing landscape, emphasizing online experiences with digital downloads, free-to-play games, and in-app purchases. The company’s localized payment service, Pay1st, facilitates game purchases using local infrastructure, bank accounts, and popular payment methods such as M-Pesa and mobile wallets.

While Carry1st initially focused on developing social and casual puzzle-based mobile games for the African audience, the company is now venturing into creating its own original titles. With development underway on three new games, Carry1st aims to launch its debut first-party game in 2024. Despite being an early-stage startup, Carry1st has experienced significant growth, with revenues increasing nearly ninefold between 2021 and 2023.

Sony’s investment in Carry1st marks the inaugural financial commitment of its flagship African venture fund, Sony Innovation Fund: Africa, launched in October 2023 to support early-stage startups in Africa’s entertainment industry. Sony Ventures Corporate, the venture arm of Sony, allocated an initial $10 million to the Africa fund. Carry1st’s latest deal adds to its roster of venture backers, including prominent names such as Andreessen Horowitz, Bitkraft Ventures, Google, Riot Games, and rapper Nas, contributing a total of $60 million in funding to date.

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