Market analysis: How behavioural data is helping to bust stereotypes in the world of gaming

Measure Protocol’s Christie Hartbarger shares an overlook into consumer digital behaviour

Market analysis: How behavioural data is helping to bust stereotypes in the world of gaming

The gaming industry has seen massive growth over recent years, with the mobile market alone projected to be worth $250 billion by 2030. But with that growth also comes a battle for visibility. With so many games on the market, understanding your audience and who plays is crucial to ensuring success for your game.

For years, we have seen the narrative that women don't play games, and then that thought pattern shifted to women only playing particular types of games. However, new data shows that women are playing games more than ever, and not just the casual genres which have previously been assumed. Considering the 50% split of the male to female population, it would be a massive oversight for any developer not to consider the female audience.

In this guest post, Measure Protocol’s Chief Revenue Officer Christie Hartbarger shares how behavioural data is debunking old stereotypes and myths regarding target audiences and instead shares what players are really doing, consuming and searching for in their mobile apps.

You won’t have missed that Microsoft recently paid £56bn for Activision Blizzard, thereby scooping Call of Duty, one of the biggest-selling video game franchises of all time. The tech giant had to win over the U.K. regulator to do so and now boasts some solid mobile products.

And now, Measure Protocol’s latest App Life report has found that while it was PUGB Mobile which held the highest engagement on iPhones for Gen Z men in July - with this cohort spending over 609 average minutes on the game - Gen Z women were spending roughly the same amount of time playing games on iPhones as their male counterparts, at just over two hours per week. That said, there was little overlap between the genders regarding the top-played games. Meanwhile, the data also showed that women spent more than twice as much time playing Call of Duty than their male counterparts. Who says women don’t enjoy shooter games?

As we’ve found time and again that assumptions about gender differences are just that - mere myths.
Christie Hartbarger

Earlier this year, our inaugural App Life report, again based on entirely opt-in, permissioned data, served to illustrate why Microsoft's recent purchase should come as no surprise to anyone - with Call of Duty then being used by over 8% of men aged 16-25 weekly, and with female fans of the game in the same age group spending just under five hours a week actively using the app.

Microsoft’s ambitions aside, it’s clear that, as developers release games into an ever-expanding and highly competitive market, they need behavioural insights rather than a gut hunch; they need data which shows what people are really doing in the world of mobile gaming, as we’ve found time and again that assumptions about gender differences are just that - mere myths.

What’s more, according to Market Research Future projections, the mobile gaming market industry will reach almost $250 billion by 2030. Clearly, opportunity is rife.

Myth busting

PUBG Mobile is obviously a chart-topping game, it’s also one enjoyed by both men and women.
Christie Hartbarger

We look at the most engaging apps on a weekly basis, and our data repeatedly illustrates the scale and breadth of the opportunity. For instance, while PUBG Mobile is obviously a chart-topping game, it’s also one enjoyed by both men and women. Having become one of the most played and most popular games on mobile, making nearly $200 million in September, this free-to-play adaptation of PUBG: Battlegrounds sees players parachuting onto an island where they scavenge for weapons and equipment to kill other players while trying to avoid getting killed themselves.

Women enjoy these games too, and we’re seeing some industry firsts this year in gaming, for instance, with Grammy-winning rapper Nicki Minaj recently making history as the first female celebrity playable character In Call of Duty. Until this point, the only women to appear as operators had been fictional - despite several real-life celebrities appearing in the franchise’s games, including soccer star Lionel Messi and basketball legend Kevin Durant.

And so, while there has been much talk of sexism in gaming, especially in esports, it’s heartening to see these positive stories. Take Kelsie Grieg, or Kels, who made history recently as the first woman to qualify for the Call of Duty Challenges Elite tournament. Kels has since been hailed as an inspiration for blazing a trail for female players in the male-dominated online gaming industry. The 22-year-old from Scotland only got into gaming after an injury ended her aspiring football career, well aware that only a tiny fraction of the millions being won in competitions around the world is going to women she hopes to inspire other women and help break industry stereotypes.

Untapped potential

One thing is for sure, the future of gaming has never looked brighter, with even iconic Disney CEO Bob Iger reportedly being pressured to double down on gaming, according to Bloomberg, in a wider report detailing the company's current woes. Meanwhile, EA wants to take its business model into gaming, according to statements from the publisher's CEO. At a Q&A session for the Goldman Sachs Communacopia and Technology Conference, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson reportedly talked about the company's business model and what cues it is taking from Disney - around building ‘flywheels of experiences around core IP’.

Amongst all this ambition, strategising, developments and purchases, there is no doubt that developers who tap into the diverse reality of this market, at a time when gaming is forming a critical part of the increasingly interconnected but also fragmented media ecosystem, have a considerable amount to gain. It seems that appealing to the 50% who have been somewhat overlooked in this industry may be one way to go about it.

Edited by Paige Cook


PocketGamer.biz regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.