Commentary

Gaming Grabs Gals

A study from Q Interactive and Social Media World Forum of more than 2,000 women in November of 2009 found them actively engaging with brands as they dabble in social media gaming. Women are passionate and competitive about (Lil) Green Patches and Happy Aquariums, stocking up on "virtual currency" perhaps more often than they hit the ATM, says the report. The study of U.S. women, of whom 50% play online games according to Pew Internet, offers a picture of this growing group and where brands fit in. According to market research firm Think Equity, the $720 million online social-gaming market is expected to at least double to over $1 billion by 2010.

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Matt Wise, President, Q Interactive, said "As brands seek... ways to shake hands with women via social media, the gaming and application marketplace holds tremendous potential... women seek a partner to support their entertainment... "

The study, first and foremost, establishes a picture of the typical woman engaged in social media games and applications:

  • 85% of those surveyed use five or less games and/or apps regularly, indicating an inclination to be loyal to a handful of favorites; approximately 15% regularly invest in six or more games/apps at a time
  • 57% are earning/spending virtual currency daily
  • 74% got involved in a game or app due to a recommendation by family or friend or because they noticed a friend or family member's score
  • 95% utilize virtual currency primarily to gift and/or advance games
  • In interacting with games and apps, 57% feel virtual gifting - for example, giving a bag of virtual makeup from Sephora - is as meaningful as real life gifting

The study investigated how brands and women intersect during social media gaming and app'ing and found brands are an important partner:

  • 97% of women prefer to earn virtual currency through either winning more or accepting a branded offer - versus paying for it with "real" money
  • only one in ten women have actually used "real" money to purchase virtual currency; of that, 85% have spent under $100 in their gaming and aping activities - ever
  • Of women who have signed up for branded offers to get more virtual currency, 67% found the offer useful
  • 37% of those women chose the branded offers based on "content"; 17% went for offers with free products or services

Ian Johnson, Director, Social Media World Forum, observes that  "Applications and games are quickly becoming part of everyone's daily lives... by having a presence in the game and app space, brands... (can) reach an influential consumer set... "

A follow up study in February, 2010  from Q Interactive and Engage! Expo  reveals insight into the psychology of social media gaming women, the largest demographic of social media users. The study of over 700 women, about 54% of which play daily and 30% weekly, investigates a range of viewpoints around salient social media gaming topics. This is the company's third recent proprietary research study from its "Women's Channel."

Of those surveyed, 42% consider themselves gamers and 7% deem themselves obsessed:

  • For 67%, one to five hours per week is socially acceptable
  • 26% feel six or more hours per week is socially acceptable.
  • Nearly 45% of those surveyed have friends they consider obsessed with social media gaming.
  • Approximately 16% of those surveyed hide or sometimes hide their gaming habits.

Over two-thirds of those surveyed believe there are stigmas associated with gaming. For those women, the leading stigmas are:

  • Games are addictive (24%)
  • Play makes you neglectful of other areas of your life (21%)
  • Gaming is a waste of time (17%)
  • Play at work is basically off limits: 93% of those surveyed share they primarily play at home versus work.

More than half of women surveyed, 54%, fear more games will make gamers pay in the future:

  • If forced to pay, 77% would give up the game, while:
  • 10% would prefer a monthly subscription or fee
  • 10% would prefer a pay-as-I-go system
  • Two% would prefer a separate payment scenario for each game played

Christopher Sherman, CEO and Founder of the Engage! Expo, reported that "...  moms and kids are both wired into social media gaming... however, mom... is actively supervising the time her kids play and what they spend" 

  • Overall kids (children under 18 years old) are connected: 16% of moms say their children have a smart phone.
  • According to mom, 40% of kids are allowed to play daily, 37% weekly, and 10% monthly.
  • Generally speaking, kids are banned from the wallet: 80% are not allowed to pay for social media gaming.

Marj Calinog, VP, Business Development, summarizes, saying "We had a frank conversation with women to better understand not only how, when and what they play, but how they approach gaming at work, their self-imposed boundaries for play, their willingness to spend to feed their habit... we found a group completely engaged with play but one with definite 'rules' and opinions as well as concerns about the future. The findings hold great implications and opportunities for developers... and advertisers seeking a meaningful presence in social gaming."

 For additional material from the February study, please visit here, and for the November study, here.

 

 

1 comment about "Gaming Grabs Gals".
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  1. Adam Day, February 24, 2010 at 10:02 a.m.

    In 2001, I predicted 87% participation in free browser based gaming with a new opt-in monitization advertising model. I am glad that you now have confirmed that my work, research and invention was correct. Ref U.S. Patent # 6,749,511

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