Women are becoming a more powerful force in the gaming market, which could open up greater opportunities for game makers and marketers.
According to a new study released by entertainment, media and technology research firm Interpret, women now comprise equal market representation among interested game players. The company's recent New Media Measure finds that female console game use has increased over the past two years, and not just for the family-friendly Wii system. According to Interpret, 21% of women gamers use Xbox 360 (compared with 17% in 2009) and 16% use a PlayStation 3 (up from 12%).
"It's a missed opportunity," Courtney Johnson, manager of strategic analysis at Interpret, tells Marketing Daily. "Women are playing an increased number of [game] genres. The number of women playing different games has definitely increased."
Some of the increase can be attributed to the other two systems adopting Wii-like controls, such as the Kinect for the Xbox and Move for the PS3. Also, women are being introduced to gaming through social games like FarmVille and Bejeweled, which serve as an access point to console gaming.
"They are doing a better job of making games for women," Johnson says. "I think we're going to see that even more as adoption increases."
Although more games are being developed with women in mind, many of them fall into certain categories such as exercise or music and rhythm. According to Interpret, however, there is interest in other categories, and 44% of women prefer genres outside of those three categories. They are also more likely to play the games alone (rather than in groups, as young men do) and tend to gravitate toward games with strong character and narratives, rather than for competitive reasons.
"The younger girls have these gaming consoles, but there aren't games that appeal to what they want," Johnson says. "I think women would play [first-person] shooters if they were more narrative- or character-driven."