The rapid rise of smartphones has changed the face of the games industry with more players from non-traditional demographics. In 2015 we looked at the role of gender in games and surprisingly found that women represented more than 60% of players.
While this clearly means that games developers need to take into account the preferences of female gamers, looking at more recent data from deltaDNA suggests the opportunity may be much bigger than anyone realized.
It has been known for a while now that women are more likely to own ‘premium’ handsets than men. Looking at just players in the deltaDNA ecosystem 21% of women are using iPhones compared to 15% of men. Similarly, within Android devices, women are more likely to use ‘premium’ handsets (i.e. those that cost more than $300 USD); 34% of women use premium devices vs. 27% of men.
This suggests that women are more invested in mobile platforms than men. The net effect of this is seen when looking at their propensity to spend in-game; across all games tracked by deltaDNA, 4.5% of women spend in games, compared to only 3.3% of men. This results in a total value of $1.57 for each female player vs. $1.09 for every man, and so we can see, women are effectively worth 44% more than men.
These statistics become particularly powerful when the genre preference by gender is considered. The table below shows the gender split across the 4 broad genres we track in deltaDNA.
It is clear that women have a strong preference for puzzle games, while men prefer strategy and action games. Casino games are near gender neutral.
This has powerful implications for mobile game publishers – a female-focused game simply has a much greater chance of being profitable than a male-focused one. Given that women tend to like puzzle and casino games that are also much less expensive to produce and maintain the economics of making male-focused action and strategy games are hard to justify.
While this is the current state on mobile it paints an interesting future for console and PC games. Almost all big ‘tentpole’ game series from major publishers are focused on traditional male genres; FPS (first person shooter) and RPGs (role-play games).
This is in contrast to the ownership rates for console which are approaching gender parity. In the last year we have seen the big titles either skewing back towards puzzle elements (e.g. Mario Odyssey) or making FPS games with female leads (Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted the lost legacy, Overwatch).
Ultimately it is clear that games are for everyone, but publishers who ignore women are actively avoiding the most valuable segment of the games market.