How the Mobile Gaming Industry Is Winning Women Players


Bridget Brennan, Contributor

August 21, 2015

The last time you waited for a drink at Starbucks, what did you do to pass those under-caffeinated two minutes before your name was called?

If you played a quick round of Words with Friends or Candy Crush Saga, you’re not alone.

155 million Americans play video games, or just about half of the U.S. population, according to 2015 data from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). And in contrast to gaming stereotypes, women age 18 and older represent a significantly greater portion of gamers (33%) than boys age 18 and younger (15%), according to the ESA.

So what’s driving more women to play? In a word: mobile. The shift in form factor from console to smartphone and tablet has been game-changing in every sense of the word. With U.S. revenues projected to grow 16.5% to over $3 billion this year according to eMarketer, the mobile gaming industry is capturing a broader audience than traditional gaming alone.

“Prior to the advent of mobile, a person might sit in their basement and play for an hour at a time,” says Joe Lazarus, CMO of Backflip Studios, a company that develops and publishes popular mobile games such as DragonVale, Paper Toss and NinJump for iOS and Android devices. (Hasbro acquired majority ownership of Backflip Studios in 2013.) “[Now] the games are always with us.”

The shift began in 2008 with the launch of the Apple App Store, which made games instantly more accessible on mobile phones.

With mobile as the new form factor, instant downloads of games onto smartphones removed the barriers of time and place presented by traditional gaming. “Historically, women have not been particularly well-served by the sedentary nature and limited distribution of traditional games,” says Lazarus. For time-compressed women, many of whom are balancing two jobs – one outside the home and one inside the home as primary caregiver – mobile gaming allows participation on an individual’s own schedule, independent of cords, consoles and long-term time commitments.

In many cases, two or three minutes is all it takes for players to get in a quick round of play and feel satisfied. “(Now) we play waiting for a sandwich or waiting for the bus,” says Lazarus. In fact, the appetite for short, “snackable” play sessions is significant. Though Lazarus says that weekends and evenings are popular times for gaming among Backflip users, “[Play time] is fairly evenly spread throughout the day. Women say [mobile gaming] is a stress reliever and a way to clear their minds…a brief break from their hectic day.”

The takeaway for marketers is this: regardless of industry, we’re all competing for people’s limited time and attention. And even though just about everyone says they have no time for anything, there are in fact “hidden” pockets of time throughout the day that can represent exciting business opportunities. In the case of the gaming industry, the ability to play anywhere, at any time, for a few minutes at a time, has made the notoriously time-intensive pastime more accessible, scalable and convenient.

To leverage this kind of thinking to transform your own business, think short, think easy, think accessible. Consider how you can identify and fill the hidden pockets of time in your customers’ busy lives with relevant offerings. Whether that means looking for ways to deliver a more efficient customer experience through app-based ordering, or developing “snackable”, mobile-friendly versions of your core products and services, a small shift in form factor and time commitment can have a large impact from which all customers can benefit. And that’s a win for everyone.

For more information on strategies for marketing to women and selling to women, find me at Female Factor or check out my book, Why She Buys. Follow me on Twitter via @BridgetBrennan.

This article was written by Bridget Brennan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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