The global gaming market has altered beyond recognition over the past decade or so. Gone are the days when video games were mainly the premise of teenage boys. Today’s gamers cover a wide demographic, with the advent of online gaming attracting a more diverse audience than ever before.
Women are now almost equally as likely to play computer games, and the average age of the typical gamer is mid-thirties. Changing demographics have resulted in game developers producing a more eclectic range of games, which in turn draws in new players, creating one of the biggest growth industries in the world today.
The global gaming market across all genres and devices is forecast to generate revenues of over US$159 billion by the end of 2020. There are multiple genres of games available for players across a wide variety of devices, ranging from traditional consoles to online games played via a PC, mobile, or tablet.
Mobile gaming is now one of the most popular sectors, which already accounts for almost half of total global gaming revenue and is expected to see a growth of over 13% in 2020.
Different genres and styles of gaming attract different demographics, so game developers analyze the types of people who are most likely to access a certain system before bringing new games onto the market. Even the older generation, who did not grow up with video games as part of their lives, are getting in on the action, most often by playing casual games such as puzzle games.
Casino and Bingo
One sector that has experienced a huge boom since branching out into online is the gambling and casino gaming sector. In the EU, the online gambling market has grown steadily at around 10% per year for several years now and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The sheer scope of games available at any online casino coupled with the opportunity to win real money attracts millions of players every day, across multiple demographics.
Player profiles vary depending on which game is being looked at. Females of all ages are more likely to be bingo players than poker players, although since going online more men have come around to the game and now account for around a quarter of all players.
The average age of the online bingo player is also much younger than many might expect, with large numbers of young women enjoying the social aspect of the game since the game moved online. Slots are popular with almost everyone, as they typically offer aesthetically pleasing graphics, simple to understand the gameplay and a diverse range of options to choose from. Whilst intense games such as poker and blackjack are more popular with a male audience.
Esports is a relatively new area of online gaming, in which players compete with each other professionally and spectators can place wagers on the expected results. Esports gambling has seen a huge increase in popularity over recent years, with more people turning away from traditional live sports for the convenience of year-round action.
The majority of esports professionals and spectators are still made, although an increasing number of women are becoming attracted to the genre.
Action and Adventure
This is one of the most popular gaming genres, although as with esports the majority of fans are male, accounting for approximately 75% of the total number of players. Part of the reason for this has been attributed to a lack of strong female characters in action and adventure games, with women mostly taking up supporting roles.
While women today represent just over half of the global gaming market, they are still underrepresented in character-based games, meaning men are more likely to be attracted to those types of games.
However, there has been a slight shift in recent years, with several prominent developers releasing games featuring strong female leads. If more games featuring strong female role models such as Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII appear, it seems likely that more women will choose to play these types of games.
Casual puzzle games are among the most played on mobile devices, offering the opportunity to dip in and out for a few minutes at a time without losing momentum. Women are the keenest players of match-3 style games such as the ubiquitous Candy Crush, comprising 69% of the total audience.
However, when looking at casual puzzle games in general, men make up around 58% of the market. Women also make up most of the market share for simulation and farming games at 69% but are highly unlikely to indulge in first-person shooters or tactical shooters, comprising just 10% and 4% of the markets respectively.
Multi-player online battle arena games are also male-dominated, with women accounting for only 10% of the total number of players. This could be another area where a lack of female representation accounts for a loss of appeal.
Retro-gaming is another increasingly popular sector, whereby players seek out games from their youth or even from before their time, recreating the experience of 8-bit gameplay featuring classic characters.
Some retro-gamers prefer to seek out the original consoles, hardware, and software for true authenticity, but there is also a market for companies developing retro-gaming emulations, which allow players to experience the same graphics, soundtracks, and gameplay as the original, but with the convenience of being able to play the games through their modern PC or another device.
Within each style of game, there are myriad player profiles that can be identified and analyzed. These include the competitive gamers who are never happier than when there is something riding on the results of their play; the backseat gamer, who prefers to watch others play and interject with helpful comments and instructions; or armchair generals, who get involved in tactical strategy games while dreaming of glory.
The more video game developers can understand about each player profile, the more they can bring games to market that appeal to the most popular demographic or bring in new types of players by offering something new within the genre.