What challenges does the African gaming industry face today?
We are a young industry which has all eyes set on it. So, if we do wrong, we will automatically [be considered a] failure. I am referring to African cinema or African cartoons which everyone was watching and were very disappointed in regarding the quality. So this is our biggest challenge. We must be at the height of the interest that leads us.
The other challenge – and obviously this is shared by all other studios in the world – is funding. In addition, we [struggle with] the technology gap because, as you probably know, most African countries suffer from the problem of the numeric gap which deteriorates our connection to the internet, for example, and constitutes a real handicap for us compared to the others studios which don’t know this difficulty. It also limits our ambitions to produce [high budget] games. For example, imagine that you are trying to start the engine of a game like Watch Dogs (it needs more than an hour to load) and with power failures three times a day, the game will never be [downloaded]. Those who are developers can understand. So, you can measure the magnitude of what it means to us, as African developers.
Explain some of the limitations you have encountered in setting up your studio in Cameroon?
To answer this question we should write a book [laughs]. We intend to write about it, if all goes well. I would say that the first problem we encountered with this project was to demonstrate to the public that we were serious. Everyone thought in our country for a good time that it was a joke. I remember when we wanted to hold [meetings] and we sent letters for sponsorship, most people thought that we would just open an arcade room instead of a real game studio.
Also, and you might not be aware of this, Cameroonian businessmen and other entrepreneurs are not well appreciated abroad. It was therefore an objective for us to undo this social construction and reassure investors about the merits of our project. To this end, we have redoubled our seriousness about how to raise funds. For example, we were obliged to present past bank statements (and other justificatory pieces) to show to potential shareholders that we are not a scam.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs in Cameroon?
Firstly, I would tell them to concentrate on [profitability]. Dreaming is good. But now your dream must be profitable. For example, you cannot find investors who will put funds in your project without them seeing the potential for profitability.
Secondly, you should always simulate the worst for your project to quickly consider a mitigation strategy. One of the things that appealed to our investors through our project is that we were always showing them how we can realise the project, regardless of the challenges we may face. As an entrepreneur, never start a project without being able to manage the apocalypse that it could have. These are the big tips that I can give them.
Finally, I invite them to work hard, especially in our country where we have [almost] lost this value. Here at the studio, we work 15 hours a day and this is in fact the price you pay for success. As an illustration of my remarks, I will give this motto of mine: being realistic also means finding a pragmatic way for achieving a great goal.