As the latest report by the Communications Authority of Kenya in 2019 would suggest, over eight million Kenyans own smartphones. With this comes easier access to internet, faster news and social media consumption as well as mobile gaming.
The world is slowly coming to terms with the idea that mobile gaming is a fast-growing industry with the potential to rake in billions just like its video game counterparts. Gaming activity across smartphones and game consoles increased tenfold with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Kenyan parents accuse mobile games…and video games in general of ruining their children, psychologically both sets of games are helpful.
Psychological studies indicate that video gaming improves impacts regions of the brain responsible for memory, spatial orientation, information organizations, and fine motor skills. The study also reinforces the claim that, like exercise, playing games for as little as 30 minutes a day, can improve your life.
However video gaming is an expensive affair, with taxes shooting up the marked price of consoles on import and locking out the average young Kenyan who has to rely on gaming lounges set up almost everywhere in the country. This has blown the door open for mobile gaming.
Mobile games have emerged as the go to therapeutic relief for the average Kenyan who endures endless scrolling down the rabbit hole of social media timelines and news consumption. The swift rise is attributed to better grade smartphones entering the Kenyan market, however they are out of reach to many young Kenyans due to…you guessed it, ridiculously high taxes!
Still, mobile gaming is giving console gaming a run for its money with the most popular mobile games keeping many Kenyans busy while indoors protecting themselves from the coronavirus pandemic.
254news.co.ke has picked out seven of the most popular games played by Kenyans in 2020:
Dream League Soccer 2020
Owned by UK-based First Touch Games, Dream League Soccer is giving the immensely popular FIFA Sports and the uprising PES 2020 mobile a run for their money.
It works exactly like EA Sports’ and Konami based counterparts respectively. The aim of the game is to build your dream team from players select from the system and lead them to becoming the best team in the world.
Not a bad game to teach you how to influence your life decisions. You play with your team, score goals and win trophies as you climb your way into the Elite Division, their version of the Premier League but mixed with all FIFPro licensed teams from Europe’s top five leagues…except the Bundesliga which was done away with from 2016 edition onwards.
This year’s edition has brought in a host of features including customisation of your manager for the very first time and upgrading of facilities other than your stadium from training grounds to accommodation to clinics for injured players.
If you feel too good against the teams on show, you can test your might online against players from around the world. Every victory earns you experience points (XP) as well us a step up the ladder to Division 1. The higher you go, the harder your opponents.
Why it is so popular is that it requires approximately 400MB of downloadable space. It is free to download on all platforms and on any smart device, even a tablet.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Released in 2013 by Gameloft Studios, it is one of the best racing games out there. Not even its successor Asphalt 9: Legends can beat it.
It offers the most exciting racing experience, with the player starting from one car and battling opponents in races to win. Every race is different, with its different demands.
Why it is called airborne is because every race has ramps which the car can rely on to ‘take flight in the air’, a sweet move that can be used to gain ground on races, recharge boost and even to take down opponents.
With each win, a player earns credits which he or she can spend on upgrading current cars or buying new ones. The races are divided into seasons so the further you go, the harder the races become.
Unlike its successor, it is playable even without an internet connection. About 1.5-2GB of downloadable space should just be enough.
Call of Duty Mobile
PUBG (Players Unknown Battle Grounds) has a new competitor, and it is coming for its throne.
Call of Duty, the most popular military video game on the planet introduced the mobile version late in 2019, and recorded over 100 million downloads in its first week, more than PUBG made when it was first announced.
The gameplay is similar to PUBG; one teams up with a select group of up to three online players, airdrops down to an island where he or she helps the team battle against 96 players (100 in total) to victory.
One can collect a series of weapons of their choice, ammunition and other military items spread out across the island give them the upper edge.
There’s also the multiplayer mode where the battle between teams is more intense, in a closed doors arena of the player’s choosing. The mode has several sub modes from deathmatch to capture the flag.
Playing the whole game requires an internet connection, and downloading it from the app store will only cost you 2GB of space…and data bundles (if not on WiFi)
Players Unknown Battle Grounds Mobile (PUBG Mobile)
The game was released as an alternative to the popular Fortnite, the first third-person interactive shooter game to take the gaming community by storm.
Just like Fortnite and Call of Duty Mobile, the aim of the game is to team up with up to three players, parachute down to an island and battle against online opponents to victory.
Unlike Call of Duty mobile, PUBG allows for customisation of characters, from appearance to fashion. You can choose your favourite outfits in the main menu (depending on which ones available) or during the game when collecting from fallen opponents.
Call of Duty mobile, PUBG and Fortnite have their online communities set up in Kenya and can be found on social media pages. Everyone knows everyone who plays one of the three games.
Just like its counterpart, PUBG requires an internet connection to play. To download it only requires approximately 1.5GB of storage, available everywhere even Samsung’s Galaxy Store.
Asphalt 9: Legends
It might be miles behind Asphalt 8, but what sets the latest version released in July 2018 apart from its predecessor is the real-life graphics that push mobile gaming to its maximum.
In comparison to previous entries, there are several new and improved features, such as a prestigious car lineup, new control schemes, including the autopilot mode called Touch Drive, and race modes, and the reimplemented “shockwave nitro” from Asphalt 6: Adrenaline.
The gameplay in Asphalt 9 is similar to Asphalt 8: Airborne, with noticeable differences in graphics and design. There were 48 cars featured in the game when soft-launched, but the worldwide release saw the introduction of four new cars, leading to 52 cars. There are currently 99 cars as of July 2020.
Like its predecessor, each of the cars belongs to a class progressively featuring higher performance and rarity: D, C, B, A, and S. The player starts with a car in the lowest class (Class D), the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. All cars in the game now require “blueprints” to unlock and then subsequently “star up”, with each of them having anywhere from 3 to 6 stars.
The game also features “nitro shockwave”, returning from Asphalt 6: Adrenaline and Asphalt 7: Heat. When the player has a full nitro bar and taps twice on the Nitro button, a purple pulse is released from the vehicle while the car’s speed increases.
On mobile platforms, Asphalt 9 has three control schemes: Tilt to Steer, Tap to Steer, and the brand new “Touch Drive” in which the player selects routes and stunts by swiping left and right. On Windows 10 devices, Touch Drive and manual controls can be used with the keyboard; or with tilt to steer, if the device has a touchscreen and an accelerometer.
Another interesting part is the return of police vehicles to this edition, absent since Asphalt 6: Adrenaline. Anyone who used to play Asphalt on Nokia S60 phones had easier time with the cops…in this edition, taking them down is tough. There is a “Hunted” mode where you have to escape from them within the set time limit.
Asphalt 9 is the first of its kind to be playable with an internet connection, which is a bit of a disappointment. Due to the sheer nature of its graphics, the game requires about 2GB to download.
Candy Crush Saga
If there is any game that trained people how to use Tinder, it is Candy Crush Saga. How else would anyone become so good at swiping right and left?
It is the most common game in the country and one of the most popular. 254news.co.ke predicts that eight in every 10 Kenyan smartphone owners have this game on their collection of apps.
Developed by King, Candy Crush Saga holds an incredible first place with 500million+ downloads globally and over 26 million reviews.
Inspired by the sugar cravings we were used to as children, one solves puzzles set out on different levels, meeting different goals in the process. There is no clear end to it though, with numerous updates expanding the number of levels available…so it is essentially an endless game.
The advantage of it is that you battle alongside your Facebook friends, going past their progress with each completed level. The disadvantage? There are so many levels.
It is highly addictive and just like FIFA, there’s no such thing as “I’ll play one match/level”. It is also economically friendly to storage space, needing not more than 100MB to download.
It is not just available on mobile, it can be played on PC as well. If you’re reading this, you’re probably seated next to someone playing Candy Crush Saga on his laptop, desktop or phone.
It would be advised to try Candy Crush Soda Saga for a more interesting challenge. This version carries more moves, more power ups and tougher puzzles.
Real Racing 3
If you’d like a more realistic racing experience, then this is the game for you.
It involves real-world racing, with real world tracks such as Suzuka Circuit in Japan, Spa Francochamps in Belgium among others, and real world cars from BMW to Bugatti. Like any racing game, winning earns you credits which you can use to purchase more cars as you advance through tougher races.
Real Racing 3 is not your ordinary racing game though. Each race has the potential to wear out your car’s performance, which you can spend credits to fix but the time spent on repairing it depending on the car. Lower end cars can take a few minutes. Supercars and hypercars…up to five hours. So, race well and race carefully.
You can connect your Facebook account to race with your friends. Be warned that they may have more and different cars and may have set records challenging enough for you to break.
Developed by Electronic Arts, due to its real nature it will require a chunk of storage. Initial downloads from the Play Store as observed by 254news.co.ke put it at 44MB but additional downloads can take up to 3GB.
Oh, a special observation noted that from this year, one can race with Formula One cars in this game, for those who may not fancy F1’s official mobile game released in October 2018. You can race as Team Mercedes (Lewis Hamilton) or Team Ferrari (Sebastian Vettel) among others.