Abiola Olaniran is Founder and CEO of Gamsole, a mobile gaming company based in Lagos, Nigeria, Gamsole has been developing games solely for the Windows Phone store since April, 2013.
Gamsole generated some buzz recently, following the release of a teaser video for its upcoming endless runner, Gidi Run.
Abiola Olaniran recently did an interview with techpoint.ng, where he shared his inspiration and aspirations for Gamsole, he also shared his views of the state of mobile gaming in Nigeria.
Abiola studied Computer Science and Mathematics at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where he participated in a lot of competitions.
During his quest for an area of concentration, he discovered that mobile gaming is the single category of applications that has the most requests from smartphone users.
He won Microsoft’s Imagine Cup and went on to represent Nigeria at the World Finals, where Microsoft announced the release of the Windows Phone platform.
After that, he came back to Nigeria, went into the Samsung Developer Challenge where he won the game and edutainment category, though he was still in school, he kept on uploading applications to the store as an individual developer.
One of his first games then was called “Road Blazer“ and within a few weeks, he already had about 40,000 downloads.
During this period, he was also a Google Student Ambassador, and through that network, he got to know about 88mph, he submitted his pitch with the application he had created and was the only Nigerian at the time that got picked to go into their Accelerator Programme.
Concerning the instant success of his gaming company, Abiola had this to say:
"We never had to do any marketing at that period. That’s one thing most developers need to understand about the fundamentals of business. It is not about impressing people. it’s not about creating the most impressive or, should I say, the most morally justified application. No, it’s about the demand and opportunity; finding a niche. That’s the most important thing because if nobody is going to download your stuff, you might as well not do it."
"I think a lot of our downloads came due to the fact that Gamsole was among the first set of developers on the Windows Phone platform. Imagine at the time, Microsoft was putting a lot of energy and money into pushing Windows Phone devices yet, thousands of new developers around the world were jumping on the iOS and Android bandwagon, because of the success stories they’d heard. For me, it was all about deviating a bit from the crowd mentality. It’s not about the most popular thought or idea among the developer community. It’s first about your users – what they are requesting for – and the niche, which is the opportunity you’ve found."
When asked about Gamisole's business model and how it made money, he said this:
"For now, Gamesole monetizes mainly through advertisements on the Windows Phone platform. We are able to do that because we get a lot of requests and have a lot of games. The model we’ve been working with is inspired by the likes of Miniclip and the earlier days Gameloft, where they would create a lot of games. So it makes sense for us to have a lot of mini-games and monetize them with advertisements. However for the Android and iOS games we are currently working on, they will be monetize solely by in-app purchases. That’s just the model that makes sense for these platforms. Of course for Windows Phone we can as well do in-app purchases. We are definitely working on that."
Abiola expects his new game, Gidi Run, to be the best game that has ever come out of Africa and for people to see their idea of creating African games coming into reality.
Concerning the challenges to running a gaming company in Nigeria, Abiola thinks that one has to really fight hard to create the kind of team he/she wants.
His thoughts on the state and future of gaming in Nigeria are;
"People have to understand that if someone is going to play your game, they don’t really care about African stories, to be honest. You’re going to have to play on the same plain with Candy Crush, Subway Surfers and the like. And truth be told, the fact that you’re including black people in your game won’t necessarily make people download yours over theirs. You need to have that kind of marketing budget that makes sense. You need to know, on the average, how much you’re expecting to get per user. Those are the key things. I notice a lot of Nigerian developers focus on creating games that tell the “African story”."
"If you concentrate on that, you will definitely flop. Don’t get me wrong; having African feel and appeal is not a disadvantage. I’m just saying it shouldn’t be the stronghold of your gaming project. Pitching “African games” as your primary differentiator doesn’t really help because what people really care about is, “is the game fun”? You can’t just develop games for Nigerians alone. That won’t fly, trust me. You have to design something with a global mindset, something that will appeal to everybody. If I’m going to acquire users for my game, I wouldn’t acquire Nigerians. I would rather acquire people outside Nigeria. The kind of metrics I would be looking into are the buying power; how much they’ve spent on applications before."
Gidi Run is expected to launch soon.