Disney teams up with African studio Maliyo Games on Iwájú tie-in
13.02.2024 - 17:45
Nigeria-based games developer Maliyo Games is behind a new Disney game coming to mobile this month.
The smartphone developer, which also employs staff in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, is creating the official tie-in to Disney's Iwájú, which is a new animated series launching on Disney+ on February 28th. The animation is co-produced with Kugali Media and set in a futuristic Nigeria, while the game is called Disney Iwájú: Rising Chef, and is due to launch on the same day.
"It's a really great opportunity for us to build an Africa-focused gaming IP for one of the biggest brands in the world," Maliyo Games CEO and founder Hugo Obi tells GamesIndustry.biz.
"This is what we are all about: making African-inspired content, so designing games based on African characters, African stories and sharing it with a global audience. The opportunity to build a game with Disney, it's something you pinch yourself about. We've never had the chance to work with a client like this before. And to work on an IP that is Disney's first African-focused animation series… it was a real honour."
"We want to define the African, or the Nigerian, gaming genre"
Disney was looking for a regional developer to create an Iwájú tie-in, and invited a number of developers to pitch a game. After that, they were asked to build a prototype, and it was Maliyo that most impressed the entertainment giant.
"We are on the ground. We understand the market and the end users. We can relate and empathise with the story," Obi explains. "It is our story and a story we know first-hand. And we had the opportunity to build a really beautiful and immersive experience based on that."
He continues. "It's huge [for us]. Disney is a household name. It's a form of validation, and it gives us a much broader reach than we can manage on our own. It's a huge honour. It's an honour to build an African story, working with African teams to do this and empowering the teams. Having an opportunity to work on a project like this pushes you to reach the levels you always aspired to reach. And working collaborative with the Disney games team, and the Walt Disney animation team, it really raises the bar for us."
Disney Iwájú: Rising Chef is a cooking title akin to Cooking Madness and Cooking Fever, but it's not all pizza and burgers.
"We do have some of that in our game, but we also have local food that you have to be Nigerian, or have a Nigerian friend, to appreciate," says Obi. "For us it is exciting to include some of our local delicacies and the preparation process behind them in our game. We are sharing these ingredients with the world."
He continues: "When we think about our culture, there are a few touchpoints that define who we are. Our language, our fashion, and our