News Column

Women Display Clout in Mobile Video Games

Oct. 2, 2012

By Mike Snider

Mobile Video Games

Women account for nearly 60 percent of players on mobile devices and are more likely than men to play games that have a social bent, such as Words With Friends and Draw Something.

More than 63 percent of female mobile gamers play social multiplayer games, compared with 52% of men, finds a survey by research firm EEDAR. That only hints at the growing clout of women in the $1 billion U.S. mobile wireless games industry. Women, it turns out, also have a strong influence on what games are played at home. They are more likely to play multiplayer games with family members and are more likely to send and accept Facebook game invitations.

"What we are finding is, tapping into that female client is more important than ever before," says EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich. "It really is changing the face of gaming."

In 2002, 72 percent of all video game players were men. That's nearly leveled out a decade later to a 53%-47% split of male and female console and PC gamers, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

Console and PC games were dominated by men, especially young males, as video games evolved into the PlayStation and Xbox era.

"Maybe it was because of the nature of the adoption of technology that what you saw was the growth of a big base of male players. The games catered to them," says Travis Boatman, senior vice president of mobile at Zynga, which bought Draw Something earlier this year. "But what has changed with these new touch-screen devices is that it has made (games) much more accessible to everybody."

The social nature of the doodle-sharing Draw Something and Scrabblesque Words With Friends -- you play with another person but can have multiple games going simultaneously -- leads to a female majority, Boatman says.

Women are even dominating mobile titles such as Big Fish Casino, a Vegas-style game that includes Texas Hold 'Em and blackjack, says Paul Thelen, CEO of Big Fish Games.

Even mobile device makers have their eyes on the female audience.

Market research for the Wikipad, a 10-inch gamer-centric tablet, revealed that women play a key role in influencing whether to buy a device as a gift for someone else or for themselves. While early marketing for the Wikipad was aimed at "the serious gamer," marketing will skew toward women as the Oct. 31 launch date nears, says CEO James Bower.



Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2012