The Rise of Social Gaming

While gaming is commonly touted as a male-dominated form of entertainment, one significant part of the industry – in fact, the largest in terms of revenue and player-base – has officially had its gender demographic scales tipped towards women.

The fact came to light after an Electronic Software Association study showed that over the past few years, a new form of gaming has taken the industry by a pretty rapid and game-changing storm.

Described as “social gaming,” these are often games found on social media sites and on mobile platforms, dedicated around an easy-to-play-yet-hard-to-master addictive formula. Puzzle games like Candy Crush, simulation games like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Farmville, and endless runner games like Temple Run have been raking in players and media attention in unprecedented levels.

What’s more is that the predominant players of these games are female, meaning game developers now have good reason to support a widespread adoption of a female gaming base.

The numbers back it up, as well, as mobile advertising company Flurry Analytics discovered that on average, women spent 35% more time on mobile games than men, and were 31% more likely to spend money on in-app purchases, or micro-transactions, than men.

Micro-transactions are payments made to unlock in-game content, such as the ones featured in games like Clash of Clans and a myriad of other games following the free-to-play or “freemium” model.

The model is simple: give players the core version of the game for free, yet allow them to bypass repetitive aspects of the game or unlock more content by paying money.

This, in large effect, has contributed massively to the adoption of gaming by not just women, but everyone in general, as playing a game has become as easy as picking up your phone and sparing a few seconds to download anything you’d like on the App Store, Play Store, or any other digital mobile marketplace.

Social Media as a Gaming Space?

Over half of all social media users, and 34% of all Internet users play social games, making it by and far the largest market for game developers and publishers. 34% is an absolutely mind-boggling statistic when one considers that nearly half of the planet – an estimated over three billion people – are online. Meaning, over a billion gamers worldwide play social games, either for enjoyment or to interact with others. One billion. That’s a huge number.

social media: facebook
facebook: your nextgen gaming console?

Age plays a significant role in the stats as well, with the average social gamer being 40 years old. Nearly a quarter (21%) of social gamers are between 35 and 44 years old – in stark contrast to teens up to 24 year olds, who make up only 8% of the market. When looking at Facebook age demographics for a comparison, these two age groups are the largest on the site, with 79% of all Internet users aged 30-49 on the site, along with 84% of all 18-29 year old Internet users.

Social gaming has also hit new economic highs in the past two years as the market value for browser-based, social media-hosted games has hit the $4 billion mark last year.

In total, women have spiked in the general world of gaming as well, with the US gaming demographic at 48% female and 52% male, versus earlier readings of 40% female and 60% male. This prominent rise in women, alongside media attention towards a new definition for the word “gamer,” came after the controversial Gamergate incident, wherein over the course of months, discussion around gender issues and the integrity of gaming journalism broke down into a long-term “flame war” of insults.

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