- The umbrella term of ‘gaming’ encompasses everything from Candy Crush on your mobile and online bingo to classic console gaming and everything in between.
- In 2018 there were a reported 1.82 billion video gamers across the globe, with that figure expected to rise to 2.7 billion in 2021
- Online gambling, which is now categorized as gaming is an industry with annual revenues of £5 billion in the United Kingdom
- Esports is one of the most rapidly growing gaming markets and now has a worldwide audience of 557 million
As the figures mentioned above show, the global gaming market is a financial behemoth with a worldwide reach. Industry research points towards a more inclusive approach from the sector in recent years that has led to higher numbers of female players within every form of gaming.
In an industry traditionally associated with males, how have marketing experts and advertisers managed to introduce more women to gaming in recent years? In this article we take a look at three areas of gaming, in particular, to chart the rise in female players, particularly in the UK.
Online Gambling – The Outlier
Since gambling made the move to the internet in the mid-to-late 1990s, it has found itself becoming classified as ‘gaming’ and has such been grouped together with what we would consider being traditional video games.
In those years since the move to the internet, gambling has also sought to expand its reach and attract new, previously unreached demographics. Traditionally women have been underrepresented in terms of gambling, with males dominating the industry and thus informing advertising campaigns.
Online bingo was perhaps the first to reach out successfully to female players in the mid-noughties. The old-school ball game was traditionally associated with pensioners, but as online looked to expand it targeted younger, female players.
TV adverts marketing online bingo as a cooler, lifestyle choice was widespread in the late 2000s and ran in conjunction with online aggregators such as Bingoport. The latter collated up-to-date lists of the latest online bingo offers and promotions in a similar way to websites such as Money Supermarket.
Importantly, these sites represented a new wave of online advertising that was directly targeted at younger females. A demographic that spends, on average more time than any other on the internet and their mobile phones.
Online bingo’s success in attracting younger females to their sites encouraged a similar approach from other online gambling companies as well as the wider gaming market in general.
Esports – The Surprise Rise
Online gaming took off in the mid-noughties, but at that point, it was largely something that was enjoyed by players from the comfort of their own homes. Over time online video gaming culture began to grow, transforming from amateur competitions to national and global professional tournaments that were streamed live across the world.
Fortnite, FIFA, and Call of Duty are three of the biggest names in the world of Esports, but they are not titles traditionally associated with female players. Therefore you may not expect women to be particularly well represented in terms of professional Esports players or audience figures.
However, towards the end of 2018, it was reported that just over 30% of Esports 5.57 million viewers are women, with the figure of female players slightly lower. Female viewing figures grew by 6.5% from 2017 to 2018, largely thanks to the growth of casual games in the Esports market.
Thanks to their quality and leading gameplay, console games are understandably going to dominate Esports. Yet in recent years more and more casual games, that is to say, mobile or tablet games have jumped in on the action too.
That’s good news for female players as it is the one area of gaming where they vastly outnumber their male counterparts. Over 66% of mobile gamers are women with titles such as Angry Birds, Candy Crush and Cookie Jam proving to be the most popular.
At the time of writing, there are only a handful of mobile games that have made the leap into the Esports Arena. The success of the titles mentioned above will more than likely encourage other games to follow suit, and thus continue to boost the percentage of women represented in Esports audiences.
Console Gaming – The Norm
Traditionally we associate console gamers with teenage boys, however recent reports show that female players vastly outnumber teenage males. Official statistics on male and female participation figures fluctuate wildly from country to country, but in general, the split seems to be around 50/50.
Unlike the two examples mentioned above, console games have done virtually nothing in comparison to encourage females to pick up console controllers. Gender representation in console video gamers is shockingly unequal, with just 3% of titles released last year featuring female protagonists.
Further to that, the majority of titles that are released on console platforms are usually centred on male-dominated themes such as sports, fighting, and war games. It is therefore somewhat surprising that the percentage of female console players is so high.
Perhaps if console games developers focused more of their efforts towards those with XX chromosomes, they would see a sharp increase in their revenues and profits. With women making up half of the console market, imagine how much they would be involved in their interests were fairly and equally represented.
Perhaps in the coming years, console game producers will catch up with their competitors and fairly represent females.