In Analytics insights, Free to play, Game marketing, Games Analytics

It is inarguable that gaming has traditionally been seen as a (young) male pursuit. Most will agree that this generalization was always misguided – now the rise of internet and mobile gaming has undoubtedly ‘democratized’ it. Across all the games that report gender on the deltaDNA game analytics & marketing platform, more than 60% of players are female. However, while we are now demonstrating gender parity for the individual game or genre (in terms of raw numbers of gamers), wild gender disparity is still seen.

The table below shows the breakdown of gender across the 4 basic genres of games we see on deltaDNA.

Gender across the 4 basic genres of games we see on deltaDNA.

Gender across the 4 basic genres of games we see on deltaDNA


As perhaps expected, the ‘traditionally masculine’ action and strategy genres are male-dominated. However, even within these genres there are big differences.

Gender split across different types of game

First person shooters (FPS) have less than 10% female players, but infinite runner games have a near even split (48% female). Similarly, role playing games ( RPGs) have only 22% female players, while `builder’ style strategy games have 39% female players.

 Gender split across different types of game

Gender split across different types of game

Puzzle games (e.g. match-three, hidden object) are very much female dominated. Looking at more specific puzzle genres, match-three games have just 22% male players, while hidden object have only 11% male players. Finally, the social casino category is female dominated but less so that puzzle.

There are again big differences in our stats for specific game types, e.g. poker and fantasy sports are male-dominated vs. female dominated slots. However, even straight social slots games have only 62% female players – going against the common assumption these games are only played by females.

How & why gender is used

While some may blindly argue this reflects an innate preference, it is quite clear that many games have been purposively tailored to appeal to one gender. This has led to criticism being aimed at FPS and RPG games with predominantly male avatars for not considering a female audience. Similarly, many puzzle games utilize signals that are seen as not being masculine.

It’s fair to say that criticism surrounding gender stereotypes across games is certainly not new to any of us.

If you acknowledge the effect of gender targeting, you might not be surprised that our stats at deltaDNA show infinite runners have the most even split of players. Arguably one of the only ‘gender neutral’ genres of game as the gender of characters tends to be ambiguous. This could help explain why games like Flappy Bird and Crossy Road can become successful overnight; it is much easier to attract a large number of players if your game appeals to everybody! Of course, let’s not forget both have wonderfully simple and intuitive gameplay – they’re also good.

Thinking about gender in your game

Creating a game that appeals to everyone is hard, and the F2P marketplace is brutal, so it’s unsurprising that developers choose a targeted approach. And in an age where each install can cost several dollars in acquisition spend, it’s unlikely that many female-targeted FPSs are waiting to be developed. So if venturing away from the ‘traditional’ may feel too high risk, perhaps broadening the appeal of your game to both genders is a smaller step worth taking.

We’ve only just scratched the surface of the subject of gender in this article, what it means as a construct, and how it is considered and implemented in game development. If you’re a developer, why not share your thoughts in the comments below.


If you enjoyed this, you should read our article How PC and mobile gamer reviews compare in stores.

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