Mobile gaming is on the rise, but could a lack of inclusiveness be holding it back? A joint study by Newzoo and Google Play found that while women account for 49 percent of the US mobile gaming population, most female players don’t think games are made for them.
Still, women are taking advantage of the ubiquity of mobile games. According to the new white paper published by Newzoo, 43 percent of female players play mobile games five days a week or more, compared to 38 percent of men.
“The research shows that women are gaming in unprecedented numbers,” said Newzoo in a statement, attributing the growth to snackable formats, as well as affordable and free-to-play (F2P) games. In the US, 65 percent of women age 10-to-65 play mobile games, and of those, 64 percent prefer mobile over other platforms. Only 38 percent of male respondents prefer mobile over platforms like consoles and PC.
Newzoo found that women are more likely than men to see games as entertainment or stress relief across nearly all genres played.
As much as these players enjoy kicking back with a mobile game session, women don’t feel included in the marketing demographic. Among the top 50 grossing games in the Google Play store, twice as many icons feature men as women—a fact that Newzoo calls “discouraging.”
When female participants were asked what portion of mobile games were made for them, 60 percent chose the answer, “30 percent [of mobile games] or fewer.”
The study draws attention to a bias against playing with female players, even among women. When it comes to competitive mobile games, 37 percent of men who play 10 or more hours per week told Newzoo that they would play even more if they knew they were playing with or against other men. Only 10 percent of women said they would play more if it was with or against other women.
“An examination of the data reveals the impact that this environment is having on the women who play mobile games,” said Newzoo. “They are less likely to explore genres, talk or connect with friends about mobiles games, invest in their play and identify with gaming. Though women are gaming more than ever before, they are less likely than men to embrace it.”
This statement mirrors previous findings by Pew Research. Their study found that only six percent of women between the ages of 18-to-29 would describe themselves as a “gamer,” despite accounting for nearly half of all video game players.
Newzoo’s research was carried out among the total American online population aged 10-65 with more than 3,300 respondents. Newzoo estimates that mobile gaming will generate $50.4 billion in 2017.
“Although women prefer mobile games more than men, the mobile gaming world has a long way to go before it’s truly inclusive,” said Newzoo.
A lack of female inclusion in the video game industry has been a hot topic in recent years. Some brands are trying to make a change through female esports teams and by creating strong female characters in their games.