For most of its existence, the gaming industry has been synonymous with men.
At the top, male executives produced games intended for the enjoyment of boys and men. Of the 963 respondents in the “International Game Developers Association's 2017 Developer Satisfaction Survey,” only 21 percent of those identified as being female — a total that remains essentially unchanged since the annual survey's inception in 2014. The number of women in leadership roles is even smaller.
Without representation at the leadership level, games designed for women were rare, and, pointing to the significantly smaller audience, gaming studios had no incentive to expand their offerings.
Yet, thanks to mobile gaming, all of that is changing. And that's a good thing.
The Explosive Growth Of Mobile Gaming
The “2018 NewZoo Global Games Market Report” revealed that after 10 years of double-digit growth since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, mobile revenues are expected to account for more than 50 percent of the global gaming market.
While it's clear that people prefer mobile gaming platforms, what's incredible is that women are driving this explosive growth.
Mobile Gaming's Fast-Growing & Extremely Engaged Demographic
According to a study conducted by Google Play and NewZoo, the community of women in mobile gaming is growing at unprecedented numbers. An amazing 65 percent of women aged 10-65 in the U.S. play mobile games. On top of that, 43 percent of women play mobile games five times a week or more, while only 38 percent percent of men play this often. And with 64 percent of women preferring mobile over other gaming platforms, compared to just 38 percent of men, we can expect the disparities in these two demographics to continue to expand.
However, for this positive growth to continue, the democratizing prevalence of smartphones needs to be met with an appropriate shift in industry practices. Despite women being the far more engaged players, 60 percent of female mobile gamers think that 30 percent or fewer of mobile games are made for women, according to the study.
2018 & Beyond: Games Built By Women, For Women
This means that studios need to dedicate their efforts towards twofold. One, they need to create more games that focus on the reasons why women like to play, such as entertainment, stress relief, and socialization. Social casino games alone will gross $4.2 billion in revenue just this year — gaming studios will lose billions if they continue to ignore the female gaming community.
See also: Evolution Of A Channel: Gaming Retail
Two, gaming companies need to place significantly more women into executive and senior leadership roles. Overly sexualized female characters and violent sequences ostracize female audiences. Bringing more women into the design process ensures that the themes, art, and gaming experiences female audiences value are incorporated into gameplay — ultimately fostering a healthier culture where women are embraced and respected.
Women In Gaming: Get On Board, Or Lose Out
Mobile gaming has set the stage for the rise of the female gaming community. The companies that turn a blind eye to this immense market for the sake of maintaining the status quo are doomed to miss out on the rewards — not only in dollars, but in the value of empowering a community of women. The future of gaming is being built and enjoyed by women — and it's about time.
Kate Gorman is founder/CEO of Fort Mason Games, a social mobile game company focused on helping players de-stress.