Who is Playing Mobile Games?

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In our weekly blog posts, we’ve examined a number of topics like, trends in gaming, and what motivates players, but who is actually playing mobile games? According to EEDAR’s 2016 report, women (with an average age of 38), are the majority at 55%. Also, console gaming, a segment of the market traditionally populated mainly by younger males, has now reached a 50/50 gender composition.

Interestingly, despite being in the majority, women aren’t the biggest spenders. On the contrary, men largely surpass women when it comes to in-game spending (60% of paying players are male). In addition, the data collected on the amount of time spent on gaming apps versus other smartphone apps, reveals some curious results: men spend more time on mobile games, while women spend the most time on social media.

It’s interesting that while women comprise the majority of mobile game players, they spend less time and money than men who play mobile games. Why don’t women make as many purchases on their favorite mobile games? We could speculate endlessly about many factors behind the different spending behaviors between men and women, but a deeper look at the gaming industry composition might offer some insights.

Is the gaming industry neglecting its largest audience?

As Meg Jayanth summarized in her  2014 Guardian article, “52% of gamers are women- but the industry doesn’t know it”. This applies not only to the people playing the games but also the people who are creating them. According to research done in 2011 by Tiga, a UK based Independent Game Developers’ association, women accounted for only 12% of game developers in Britain. What has changed since that report was first published? According to the latest worldwide statistics on gender distribution in the gaming industry, the percentage of female game developers has increased over the years, reaching 23 % in 2016, and it’s likely to continue rising; but clearly, women are still overwhelmingly underrepresented in the industry.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why the games targeted at men (first-person shooters, action RPGs, battle, and strategy, etc.) continue to dominate the app marketplace. There’s no doubt, many women also enjoy these types of games, but which types of games are most popular with women? According to this 2016 analysis, women tend to prefer quiz, card, slot, trivia, simulation, and social games. Puzzle games appear to be gender neutral, accounting for the most popular genre for both men and women.

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With a few exceptions, the majority of new releases are genres targeted to male players, and it’s still rare to see female protagonists or heroines with whom female players may identify. That seems like a missed opportunity, considering that some games geared more towards women, for example, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Covet Fashion, were among the top 100 grossing games in 2016.

While the industry is slowly moving to keep up with the growing demographic of adult women, on the flipside we are seeing more and more female developers entering the gaming sector. Recent initiatives by Google and Blizzard aim to increase inclusivity & diversity in the industry. Just earlier this month, Women in Games (with the endorsement of the IMGA) presented the first-ever Women In Games Mobile Awards, recognizing games created by teams with women developers based in Europe.

If you’re struggling with reaching your target demographic, getting them engaged, and converting them to high-value customers, drop us a line!