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“There has been an increase in funding opportunities for African developers with more exciting times to come"

Dash Studios CEO John Ikpeme on the future of the African gaming landscape, his current projects and the pursuit of funding in Africa
“There has been an increase in funding opportunities for African developers with more exciting times to come
  • "We work with about 9 employees, all remotely, between Nigeria, Kenya, Australia, UK and USA."

Despite the challenges faced by MENA and African studios in securing funding, a resilient wave of local developers and video games studios are rising to build a thriving gaming ecosystem from the group up.

In an exclusive interview, we spoke to Dash Studios CEO John Ikpeme who shared his insights on the future of the African gaming landscape, the current projects his company is undertaking, and what the funding landscape looks like.

Ikpeme also provides a glimpse into what we can expect from Dash Studios in 2024 as the company gets set to delve into more genres and strategic initiatives to propel the local games industry to new heights.

PocketGamer.Biz: Could you tell us a bit about Dash Studios and what you’re up to right now?

John Ikpeme: Dash Studios is a game developer and publisher, solving the problem of revenue generation for African developers on the continent. Our three-phase plan starts with building profitable titles, and that’s what we’re up to right now, with Nouns Hunt.

How many staff do you currently employ and where are they based?

We work with about nine employees, all remotely, between Nigeria, Kenya, Australia, UK and USA.

CTO James Ohia [centre] and lead designer Dokai Moses [right]"]

What inspired the creation of Nouns Hunt, and what unique elements or gameplay mechanics do you believe set it apart from other word games available on the market?

Nouns Hunt was inspired by the popular game of ‘Name, Animal, Place & Thing, or ‘Names of things’. This offered a fantastic opportunity for early player adoption and retention across the word game market. Nouns Hunt offers an adaptive game powered by over 30,000 words, over 25+ categories and waiting rooms taking up to 100 players. This is uncommon in the word game market.

With Nouns Hunt in open beta and two other games currently being scripted, what has the development process been like so far, including any challenges you're facing?

The development process for Nouns Hunt, as our debut title has been an interesting one, as we kept stretching the capacity of a free to play word game. The right partnerships for distribution and marketing is a challenge, but we’re working on partnerships with top brands like TikTok at the moment. On the development front, we’ve got the best team - no complaints!

Is Dash Studios exclusively focused on word games or does the company have plans to explore other genres in the future? If so, what genres are you considering?

Oh no. Nouns Hunt is a way to introduce our brand, but we’re working on tons of titles that aren’t word related - and even a first person shooter! Our pending titles cover arcade, adventure and RPG titles

Can you tell us more about the gap you noticed in the African gaming ecosystem and your initiative to support local developers through mentorship and funding?

We noticed that over 97% of revenue generated from the continent goes towards foreign made titles and developers, leaving just 3% with us. This is due to the quality gap, and user’s affinity for foreign made titles. By building the best titles, and constant initiatives to train and find the best talents to build the best games, our objective is to increase that to 30%.

As one of the key gaming studios in Nigeria, how are you contributing to the local gaming communities? Do you recruit/nurture local talents in these areas?

We accept and train interns, as well as host competitions to create awareness.

In terms of funding and support for gaming studios in the region, what has been your experience navigating the funding landscape?

Due to a lack of successful case studies, funding is a major difficulty for developers and studios. However, there has been massive growth in the space with platforms like Africacomicade’s Ark Fellowship providing funding and training for aspiring developers and studios. There has been an increase in funding opportunities for African developers, more exciting times to come for sure.

“We still spend money on games - but only the ones we love! To combat this stereotype, we have to create better value.”
John Ikpeme

What changes have you observed in the local games industry, particularly in terms of consumer behaviour and market demands and how has Dash Studios adapted to these changes?

Oh yes. The major idea is that Africans don’t spend money on games, which is partly right. Also, the fact that these regions have countries with very low disposable income, it’s valid as well. But, the truth is people don’t spend money on what isn’t valuable to them, leading to ad revenue being the major source of revenue generation in Africa. I say partly true, because we still spend money on games - but only the ones we love! To combat this stereotype, we have to create better value.

What are your plans for 2024? Will you be exploring new platforms? And are there any specific initiatives or projects on the horizon that we should look forward to?

We look to release Nouns Hunt’s full version, building on our player base in over 53 countries at the moment. And we'd lie to expand to PC, as well as plan for our gaming accelerator program. There's more to come so download and play Nouns Hunt for free on Android and iOS!

Want more insights into the MENA games industry? Join us at Pocket Gamer Connects Jordan on November 9th and 10th, 2024 to hear from local leaders and experts about the hottest trends and discover why this region is the fastest growing games market in the world.

And don’t forget to keep up with all of our MENA market coverage right here on for all the latest news and big interviews from the region.