Video games: the overtime unknown religion + money maker

by Emma Chidiogo

Mr Caino twice ended his relationship because he was put on the spot of choosing between love and game consoles, surprisingly, he chose gaming.

“I am an addict…they got to understand that you don’t make a brother choose between his toys and your touch,” were his words.

The love for video games has over the years evolved from generation to generations. From the years of Atari by Atari, Inc; Nintendo’s Famicom; Sega’s Sega Mega Drive; to Nintendo’s Game Cube; Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s XBox.

What started out as a device for the young in heart, has now become a leisure platform for those in their 20s, and sometimes 30s depending on individuals.

PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4

These days people between the ages of 10 – at least 25 years, are actively seen engaging themselves in the act of competing against each other via gaming consoles.

In August 2013, Sony announced the placement of over a million pre-orders for the console before it was released. In the UK, the PlayStation 4 (PS4) became the best-selling console at launch, with the sale of 250,000 consoles within a 48-hour period. On November 22, 2013, Microsoft confirmed that it had sold one million Xbox One consoles within its first 24 hours of being available.

Also in December 2013, when the PS4 went on sale at a slashed price –  Fall Yakata Christmas Sale – by an online store in Nigeria, it was sold out within minutes. The website reportedly crashed due to a traffic surge.

Arcade centres at Leisure Mall (Surulere, Lagos), Play Zone (Ikeja City Mall, Lagos) or E-Centre (Sabo-Yaba, Lagos) are places where you will find video gamers spend as much as N1,000 – N2,000/day on video games. These gamers also spend at least 2-3 hours of their time on these games.

Daniel, a 15 year-old who was at Play Zone said he spends at least N2,000 each time he came to play the PlayStation 3 with his friends. He said he could spend more depending on the money he had on him.

Tolu, 20, said that he has spent as much as N5,000 a day on playing video games.

“When you start playing, you don’t want to stop, there’s this excitement felt within. But when you run out of money, that’s when you realized you have just spent so much on game,” he said.

Arcade centres may not be biting hard on the pockets of many now as they were in previous years, as a lot of people are now opportune to have these consoles at home. This is very unlike the mid and late 90’s when having a game console was not that easy. Game lovers had to patronize arcade centres to satisfy their gaming desires.

The Video-Gaming experiences

In the late 90’s there were few Malls with arcade centres, but they were pretty expensive. Students had to rely on the local game houses around them, were they spent almost half of their day and blew up all their money. Few years after, the number of individuals, who now own consoles, have increased notably.

Caino, the Co.Owner of East Boys Entertainment. Abuja, gives an account of his video gaming experience; “I started spending money renting games right from the brick game/golden light era. Went on to Gameboy, then on to Nintendo’s Famicom. I remember trying to save N1700 to buy my own Famicom; It took me 8 months to realize N600, so, I gave up. I got flogged a couple of times for staying out late.

Gamers spend at least N1000 - N2000 daily on arcade centres
Gamers spend at least N1000 – N2000 daily on arcade centres

“I managed to get my own Sega, but technology won’t let me be. They had to bring out the PlayStation (PS). I started renting! Finally, got my own PS, but I was punished with PlayStation 2 (PS2). And then, I discovered a studio that offered some cool Nintendo Wii gaming. That became my second home. One time, I spent N25,000 in two days, on both days I sat there from 9 am till 9:45 pm. On other occasions my costs were about N4,000 daily.

“I broke up twice with my girlfriends because I chose gaming over them. But they gotta understand…. You don’t make a brother choose between his toys and your touch.

“Anyway, all that’s gone now. Obi is a man now, and can afford his own toys. I usually have friends over for a gaming night with my PS4.”

David Femi, who works for a private firm in Lagos said; “I spent lot of cash while learning to play when I was growing up but not any more. But I still spend time playing games – 2 to 4hrs depending on how free I am. Back in school, I used to spend at least N1,000 daily for games.”

Females are not left out of the gaming world as Deborah Onabanjo, a graduate from Babcock University said; “I play video games on my PC and don’t see anything wrong with it, as most girls do. I like playing “NEED FOR SPEED”, “CALL OF DUTY”, and spend a maximum of 3-4 hours.”

“I have never spent money on game centres before because I buy consoles. Right from the days of Famicom, Sega Mega Drive, up to Play Station 3, I’ve bought them all,” Wunmi, a Yaba College of Technology graduate in Business Administration said. When asked the number of hours he spent on gaming, he said, “It depends on the game that I’m playing. If it’s God of War (GOW) it can take a whole day.”

Rilwan Adesegun, a writer said; “In Yoruba, there is an adage that says “owo ti omode ba kokori akara loma fin ra” which means; “the first money a child get he uses it to buy beans-cake” I used mine to play PlayStation One. I didn’t have specific hours for playing because I played until my money finished. Most times I’ll play four games and wait for one free game to balance it.”

“I spent quite a lot of money in game centres. For the record, I was the best Street Fighter (SF) player in the whole of UNIBEN till I left the school. Even till now, no one can try me in that game. When it comes to SF, I am the king. I could beat anyone with any character…I had no respect for the second opponent… I didn’t care about ladies at all. I was just having my fun…connecting multiple super combos into one glorious kill to get a reward of three meteors smashing into the ground when they the game screams K.O,” Emmanuel Edet, an IT support worker in Lagos, said.

Why are video games important to gamers?

To some people, video games may be a waste of time and for unserious minds, but to lovers of these consoles, it is a way of escaping the troubles of the world and ease themselves of daily stress. Some believe it’s a way of increasing one’s intelligent quotient (IQ).

Manchester City players playing the PlayStation
Manchester City players playing the PlayStation

“I guess they make me become smarter and more aware of my thinking skills. And gives me the opportunity to live in a world away from reality…Where I have total control of everything that happens to me,” Caino said.

“I play video games because it helps ease my mind from Nigeria’s problems, which is a better option than nicotine,”  said Wunmi Okebukola.

“For the fun of it. Competing with friends and basically to taste a bit of new challenge,” was the opinion of Ojiako Kenechukwu, a student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

“It’s sort of escapism from the real world. Plus I have fun doing it,” said Tunde Apalowo, a film maker.

It is an established fact that if you want to capture the market with any product, your target should be the young minds. This is evident in the fact that although the children of yesterday have grown to be responsible adults of today, there’s still that soft spot for games in their heart, which Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are still capitalising on.

A good business

Running a Game Centre (locally) is arguably one of the most lucrative businesses in Nigeria, because the target market has young gamers who are passionate about video games and always want to compete against each other.

Football is no doubt the world’s most popular sport and fans all over the world follow the sport not only by watching, buying jerseys, betting and cheering but also by using their favourite teams on game consoles.

pes_2015_8Felix, also known as Onile, runs a small game house in the heart of Lagos with the PS2 (two consoles), PS3 (one console) and Xbox (one console).

The arcade owner, who started the business four years ago, says that although some of the customers (most school children and adults mostly between the age of at most 18-25) have personal video game consoles at home, most of them still prefered to come to his centre, as it is a basis for competition among them.

Talking about the business opportunity, Felix said that he has more of the PlayStation because Nigerians are more acquainted with it than Microsoft’s Xbox. He charges customers N50 for the PS2, Xbox and N100 for the PS3 to play one game which lasts for 10 minutes.

Operating time for his games centre are from 10 am to 7 pm, sometimes 8 pm, depending on customers in his shop. (at least 9 hours).

He said the games mostly requested for is Football (ProEvolution, FIFA), while other customers loved playing Mortal Kombat, Street fighter and Car Racing.

On a good day, Onile makes N4,200 for the PS2s alone, N3,600 for PS3 and nothing less than N2,100 for the Xbox.

At the classy arcade centres, a game (Football – which is the most commonly played) costs as much as N500 for 10 minutes at Play Zone, while at Leisure mall and E-Centre its N200. Purchasing these game consoles (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii U) cost between N75,000 – N80,000.

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