Sony is making a bold bet on an African gaming startup to boost PlayStation’s reach in the continent



Sony is taking a strategic leap into Africa’s burgeoning video game industry by investing an undisclosed amount in Carry1st, a Cape Town-based gaming studio, through its venture arm, the Sony Innovation Fund, as revealed exclusively to CNBC by Carry1st. The collaboration is positioned as a strategic investment, and the two companies are currently in the early stages of exploring various commercial opportunities.

According to Cordel Robbin-Coker, CEO and co-founder of Carry1st, discussions with the Sony Innovation Fund commenced around eight to nine months ago. He emphasized Africa’s potential as the next significant market for video game growth, making a pitch to Sony that resonated with the idea of Africa being a prime location for the next wave of customers and gamers.

Robbin-Coker highlighted the underrated console potential in Africa, particularly in countries like Nigeria, Morocco, and Algeria, where console adoption is experiencing a notable upswing. Sony’s entry into this emerging gaming market aligns with robust growth projections, with Sub-Saharan Africa’s gaming industry anticipated to surpass $1 billion in 2024, according to research from Carry1st and venture capital firm Konvoy.

A key aspect of the partnership between Carry1st and Sony is to aid the expansion of PlayStation’s presence in Africa. Sony aims to achieve record-breaking sales of 25 million PlayStation 5 units in its 2023 fiscal year, and the collaboration with Carry1st is viewed as a strategic move to tap into the potential of Africa as a major driver for PS5 sales growth.

Carry1st’s role in this partnership extends to supporting Sony in expanding the reach of PlayStation in the region through various means, including broader go-to-market strategies and facilitating digital payments. Robbin-Coker emphasized that Carry1st is well-positioned to adapt to the evolving console business model, with its localized payment service, Pay1st, enabling African gamers to purchase games using local infrastructure, bank accounts, and popular payment methods like M-Pesa and mobile wallets. The platform also provides game developers with opportunities to monetize their games through Carry1st’s online marketplace for games and add-on content.

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