On 30th August 2019, the Accra Digital Center was painted with yellow and black colours, on a day which could become the most significant of days in the history of Ghana eSports. Hundreds of people walked proudly through the entrance of the digital centre having smiled at the “MTN Gaming Conference” inscription at the entrance. They had travelled from all parts of the country for the MTN gaming conference- the first-ever gaming conference in Ghana.
It was indeed a historic moment and one which will leave a deep footprint and an indelible memory in the minds of stakeholders in the gaming industry. The heads of various eSports groups in the country were exuberant. The athletes were in a buoyant mood, and the gaming developers and the lovers of eSports were jauntier than they could ever be as the conference began.
From the keynote addresses by Eric Elders, CEO of Online Worlds Entertainment and Johana Riquier, Business Development Manager at Unity; to the presentation from Isaiah Triforce Johnson, the Chief executive officer of Empire Arcadia; to the breakout sessions and the panel discussion, there was an aura among those involved in the gaming industry that indeed something great had arrived. But the question most participants needed an answer to was whether the MTN gaming conference could be Ghana’s eSports saviour.
The story so far
There is no single doubt about the talent, passion and the desire that is present on the motherland and across the continent with regards to eSports. Wondakid, for example, has shown his exceptional talent by sweeping home the ultimate prices at the Golden Hour eSports tournament and the MTN iFest conquest.
The country has also been blessed with vibrant eSports groups who are doing all possible to ensure that Ghana becomes an eSports powerhouse. Groups such as Madagastar eSports, eSports Ghana, Gaming Giik City, Pyria gaming, Antrix gaming and many others are all on that list.
While some of the aforementioned groups have been busily organising tournaments and competitions such as the Golden Hour eSports tournament; Ghana master league; Rep UrJersey etc. others are also planning on establishing an academy to help safeguard the future of eSports in Ghana.
With all these, one would ask: Why is the Ghana eSports industry not among the eSports powerhouses in the world? Simply put, they were waiting for the saviour…
And what better saviour could the eSports industry have wished for than the MTN gaming conference. The MTN gaming conference was always going to be the likely saviour of Ghana’s eSports industry- a mega-conference that could bring all gamers and eSports stakeholders together to facilitate the growth of the sport.
But like John the Baptist, MTN used events such as the MTN iFest Conquest to prepare the way for the Christ.
The event saw MTN awarding winners in both the Accra and Kumasi edition with GHs 24,000. This colossal package would have left the beneficiaries very much excited, but in the MTN gaming conference, MTN brings to the industry more than just the GHs 24,000.
What the conference brings on board
1. Sponsorship opportunities
Securing sponsorship to finance eSports tournaments has been one of the most uphill tasks for eSports groups in Ghana and across the continent. The industry might appear easy to finance, but in reality, demands substantial financial commitment for success to be achieved.
Several key players in the African eSports industry have complained about the lack of sponsorship and support for eSports in Africa. The Nigerian eSports President, the Kenyan eSports President and the owner of Raving Mad Gamerz have all spoken of this challenge and the need to secure sponsorships.
Fortunately for the eSports industry, this daunting task could soon come to an end. Brands who feared to invest will now have a basis not to worry anymore; those who did not see it as a venture worth investing in will soon begin to reconsider that perception, and those who were unsure of the legitimacy of the sport may now have a clue, all thanks to MTN and the MTN gaming conference .
2. A way of dealing with the haunting past
Until the MTN gaming conference, the fear of the eSports industry losing its best talent was very much present, owing to the continent’s inability to nurture or keep its talents.
Just as indicated in an earlier post, the aura among most people involved in the eSports industry in Africa is quite sensational. There is the feeling that the African continent could become a powerhouse in the eSports industry. But if care is not taken, the continent’s inability to develop its talent would seriously blight the future of eSports in Africa.
It is high time that the various stakeholders in the eSports industry put in place the necessary measures to create a robust talent development plan, provide the needed facilities and equipment and also offer better incentives for eSports athletes to help safeguard the future of eSports in Africa.
Hopefully, with the MTN gaming conference, that fear will quickly dissipate and make way for more optimism, and most importantly convince eSports athletes to stay loyal to the African continent.
3. Formation of a governing body
One of the worrying issues in the Ghanaian eSports industry has to do with the lack of organisation or the absence of a governing body to regulate its activities. In a recent interview with Pyria gaming, the President of the eSports group, Stephen Aggor emphasised on how important proper organisation and a governing body is to the eSports industry.
He indicated: “I think there’s currently no gaming industry in Ghana and I would explain why. I believe that the keyword when it comes to the eSports industry is organisation and that organisation aspect of the gaming industry very much lacks in Ghana. Because of that we have been able to, like a tree, spread our branches in different directions but with no greater impact”.
The existence of a governing body for the eSports industry cannot be overemphasised and hopefully with the MTN gaming conference bringing all stakeholders together, and with MTN becoming a key player in the industry, talks could be held for the governing body to be established.
The words of Isaiah Triforce Johnson, the Chief executive officer of Empire Arcadia, at the MTN gaming conference perfectly reflected the relief that eSports stakeholders in the country were now feeling.
He indicated, “I just want MTN to understand this, and i think i can speak for the African people on the continent, we have been waiting for ten years for your guys to get involved. We have really been waiting …”
The passion with which the renowned gaming personality spoke truly represented the optimism that had filled stakeholders in the industry. After ten years of striving and toiling, the MTN gaming conference could well be the saviour which opens the door of greatness for the Ghana eSports industry.