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Limpho Moeti: Collaboration is key to South Africa's future in games

You can read all our South Africa Games Week articles on this page.

Limpho Moeti has been in the South African games industry for almost eight years, starting out at Free Lives and working her way up as she fell in love with the industry and with production, she tells

She helped create and run Cape Town-based games event Playtopia as deputy festival director for almost five years, then moved on to Semblance developer Nyamakop (whom we talked to earlier this week) to do production and business development for over three years, as the studio grew from three people to roughly 25.

Since January 2023, she’s been business development manager at consulting agency RocketRide Games, which aims at guiding studios through their development cycle and help connect them with funding sources.

“We work a lot with developers who are in emerging markets, so South America, South-East Asia, here in Africa, and we have clients from all over the world,” Moeti explains.

She continues: “We’re very much an agency that tries to help both with creative direction, executive production, as well as marketing. So it really is the kind of support from before pre-production until post-day-one launch. And I love that. I think that if we have to do a capitalism, we can do one where it’s never win/lose, but win/win, and always doing what is best for the developer, and ensuring that we’re growing in a sustainable way.”

Through the years, in addition to her production and operations work, Moeti has also been very involved in the South African community, organising game jams, speaking at events, doing panels. We covered one of her talks back in 2020, about lessons learnt from business development in Africa.

“It’s something that I’m deeply passionate about, particularly with a focus on growing industries, creating a sustainable, long-term industry, and one that is representative of the country, that is representative of all of the different kinds of people who consume and enjoy games [and] should also be able to make games,” she adds.

With her career and current position, Moeti has been in a privileged position to witness the growth of the South African games industry over the past few years.

“The number one [strength] for me is just the immense talent that is here, and how more and more studios are getting funding,” she says. “It’s becoming easier, to a degree, to do services-type work, game development, mobile, PC, console. There is a lot more focus and a lot more information coming out both from South Africa and the continent in terms of the market that’s available, and the developers. You can study game design. There’s more discussion and focus on production, on business development, on games as a career, which I think is incredible.”

She highlights the sense of collaboration emerging from the South African games industry, something that was mentioned by Studio Bolland as well, sharing how that spirit helped them during their first year as a developer.

“It’s deeply important to the industry and how it’s grown,” Moeti continues. “And there is a lot of connection and helping each other, giving feedback, sharing network, connections and opportunities which I think is fantastic.”

She adds that there is a competitiveness to South African studios, but a healthy one – the kind where you help each other grow, but “never in a way where you hinder anybody else so that you can grow.”

She highlights “structural challenges” that do hinder the industry though.

“Obviously, load shedding is not conducive for a tech company, or even artistic companies. I think the other structural issues are just ones of funding and support. One of the biggest challenges is not just the creation of games, but it’s also the creation of pipelines, because we have a lot of young, talented people who’d love to get into the industry, but only a very limited number of companies.

“The hope is to have more companies that can get started and last for a long time, so you can get juniors working for long enough to become mid-level, senior, lead, director of a department, and being able to use that experience to then start their own companies hopefully, and make great games.”

The secondary challenge is cost, she continues, starting from the cost of making prototypes, all the way to the cost of travelling.

“The cost of making games is a very, very difficult challenge, particularly in South Africa. Most people can’t afford to spend two years living at home, not working, working on a prototype, or even six months doing that. That foundational support in terms of allowing people the space to create, to experiment, to make really good prototypes, is absolutely a challenge.

“The cost of connecting to the wider industry, and the networking and business opportunities that allows us, is also a significant challenge. That’s what makes events such as Africa Games Week and Playtopia so vital and valuable; the ability and the opportunity to bring a lot of those bigger players, the publishers, to these events. Because just going to something like a GDC or a Gamescom is 50,000 or 60,000 rand [between $2,600 and $3,100]. It could very easily become 100,000 rand [roughly $5,200], and that’s just to go to the event, and excluding getting a visa and all that difficulty.”

As we previously highlighted when talking to Nyamakop, the average monthly salary in South Africa in 2023 was roughly 25,000 rand (about $1,310), according to the country’s Quarterly Employment Statistics from December 2023.

The cheapest GDC ticket that gives access to talks and not just to the expo costs $1,049 at the time of writing.

“It does pose a significant barrier to entry and access for a lot of developers who are based here. I’ve been in the industry for over seven years, and [2023] is the first time I’ve been able to go to a GDC and a Gamescom. It’s surprising and it’s not surprising. But I think it’s also indicative of how difficult it can be to enter those spaces, and then build those relationships. So I think those are probably the most significant barriers, that knowledge and that ability to really engage deeply.”

Support from the South African government is practically non-existent and, while Moeti says she “always has hope,” she thinks it’s going to take a significant amount of effort for this to change.

“Unfortunately – and this is a problem seen all over the globe where your politicians, your governmental agencies aren’t very young – they’re not very attuned to the rapid changes happening, particularly in tech industries. And games as an industry is also quite a complicated one to explain to government. So a lot of money would have to be invested without necessarily seeing quick return, which I think makes them very hesitant.

“Also, in terms of what our industry looks like, I think there are some barriers there as well. It is predominantly white, it is predominantly male, and I think that that is also going to have an impact on our governmental support, because I think they’d want to see a more representative industry, and for it to be bigger so that there can be significant benefit. But it’s that catch-22 [because] we can’t get significantly bigger without governmental support. That makes it very challenging.

“There are other emerging markets, such as Malaysia, the Philippines, where there is really spectacular government support. South Africa [is] a country that wants to change the nature of our economy into a more tech-based, into a more evolved market, [and] that is game development. The interactive landscape in general is a big part of that. And so, I’m hoping to see change, and I know that there are absolutely efforts to create that change, but I don’t think it’ll happen as soon as I would like it to happen.”

Looking ahead, Moeti hopes for a “massive industry,” she smiles, and one with South African publishers across mobile, PC, and consoles.

“I envision there being AAA and AA and indie studios, and a vast industry. I think in the next three to five years, what I’m really hoping to see is just there being more companies of all kinds, that are long-lasting, that can release a game, that can continue to function and work and release multiple games until eventually they get that hit.

“I think there is a lot of possibility for us to see more companies. I’d love to see 30 medium-sized and 10-20 indie-sized studios. I’d love to see another 20 that are 20-40 people who are doing services work in mobile. That’s the vision I have for the future, and it’s one where we’re making excellent games, providing excellent services, and really being able to be a hub, grow and engage even more deeply with the interesting games that are being made with the interesting opportunities that exist in various ways.”

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