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One billion and counting – The rise in female gamers

Males have long dominated the gaming universe, in which the market has been carefully crafted and positioned to attract male gamers; using stereotypical themes such as sports, car racing, war games and other high speed and typically masculine pursuits. This aura of male gaming began in the 1980’s when market research suggested that the majority of gamers were male, and as such, this is what the gaming industry set to target. Whilst it’s not to say that there were no female gamers back then, there simply weren’t enough for a female gaming orientated market to be profitable. 

However, fast forward to 2020 and there has been a significant increase in the amount of female players. Whilst this may not be enough of a shift to completely transform the gaming market just yet, it’s certainly been disruptive to the industry in which both marketers and games developers alike will need to reconsider the approach in the very near future. So what’s caused the rise in female gamers? What affect is it having on the market? And what games are female players gravitating towards? Let’s take a look…

The shifting of demographics in online gamers 

According to data commissioned by Google, last year alone, the female gaming industry grew by 19%. Interestingly, data also shows that the majority of female players are based in Asia, with 45% of the female gaming community being based in China, while South Korea, Japan, and South East Asia make up another 40%. As technological hubs, this date isn’t so surprising, yet this means that just 15% of female gamers come from the rest of the world, showing a definitive lack of female gamers in the Western world still.

In addition, whilst more and more female players are beginning to take their place in the industry, studies show that the demographics for each type of gaming still vary greatly for each gender, with female players playing a more passive role in online gaming. In a study by NewZoo, where different types of gaming personas were looked at in detail, data showed that 36% of female gamers played online games as a way of passing time, whereas just 19% of men fell into this category. 17% of gamers fell into the cloud gaming category, similarly to 20% of men. This made up the largest category of playing for men, meaning that many of today’s games are now created for cloud platforms where little technology is needed, games are fast, free and easy to access. As the majority of female players do so to pass the time, this also works in their favour as we see an influx of new, fast and convenient games on the market. 

Most females tend to play games to ‘pass time’ so they prefer fast and convenient games.

Moreover, the third persona category that NewZoo studied was the ‘Popcorn Gamer’. The Popcorn gamer category covers the e-sports spectator audience where participants are more likely to prefer being a spectator, rather than getting involved in the game themselves.  According to data, these types of consumers are easier to reach on platform such as Twitch and YouTube, rather than more common media channels for marketing and advertising. The study showed that 14% of this category was made up of female gamers, suggesting that whilst the gaming market is becoming more popular with females; there is still a larger spectator market than males. 

What types of games are girls playing?

Studies have found that males gamers are more likely to play games to compete with others and destroy things, whereas female gamers are looking for a challenge to complete and to immerse themselves in another world. It is likely that females do not like to play games where there are increased amounts of graphic violence, and it is men who are more inclined to play these types of games. 

In particular, females have been found to prefer more puzzle and interactive based games that can be usually played on a handheld device. Women tend to be more comfortable when gaming via a mobile device as they find it more personal and private which has led to the growth of women participating in activities such as online gambling. Online casino games such as slot games have seen a surge in recent years due to their mobile compatibility, allowing any player to access the game at their own convenience and at their own leisure. This has led to the increase of female users of online casino sites as they can access the sites privately via their small mobile screen rather than a large desktop. And it is not just online casino games that females are enjoying in the gambling world, there are also dominating online bingo games too.

Whilst car racing, war and action games may not be at the top of the list for female gamers still, it is safe to say online bingo is. Research has shown that of all online bingo players, 62% are said to be female, whereas just 38% of males make up the demographics. In addition, the majority of online bingo players fall into the age category of 24-35. These statistics are likely due to the significant shift in bingo games in recent years, with these games being accessible via a mobile so players can access the games on the go any time. This supports reasoning that females prefer games that are technologically adapt and are quick and easy to access.

Women prefer to play games via a handheld device as studies showed they feel more private.

Overall, with their being over one billion female gamers in the world today, there’s no doubt that the gaming industry is facing a certain amount of disruption. Studies and statistics suggest that whilst female players are becoming more common, there is still a trend in the stereotypically feminine games that women play, compared to men. One of the key trends seems to be that women favour quick and convenient games to the more traditionally male orientated games such as COD and GTA. One reason for this could be that the traditional role of women is also changing rapidly in which women now often play many different personas in their personal and professional lives. However, one thing is for sure- female gamers are certainly on track to dominate the gaming market if the level of growth we have seen recently continues. 

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