Think you know what the modern gamer looks like…? Think again. Gaming has grown from a niche hobby into one of the biggest markets in the entertainment industry almost doubling over the past five years and reaching $90.65 billion in 2022. By 2025, the gaming industry is set to be worth over $268 billion. With it, the profile of the ‘gamer’ has changed significantly and mirroring the population at large perhaps, the female gamer segment has sky-rocketed and today represents a massive 48% of the entire global gaming market.


These figures speak to a considerable opportunity within gaming – a progression in culture and audience, that points to sustainable growth and a powerful future for both industry and players. But for the industry to deliver on this growth and to maintain it, a step-change is required in our approach to making games.

For mobile gaming to be a truly welcoming space for all players, knowledge of different player segments must be a foundational starting point that informs all aspects of strategy and design from the outset, including gameplay, narrative, character development and critical entertainment aspects such as connectivity and social play.


So, a significant shift in industry perspective and vision is needed – a player-first vision that takes into account diverse audience player habits, must now be adopted from the very get-go of game design, and this should include preferences in content and the full user experience.


Success across demographics

A recent study has found that 74% of women of all age groups play mobile games daily. 33% do so only once or twice a day, while 41% play games several times a day. The research was conducted by Pollfish to celebrate Women’s History Month, and surveyed over 800 women in the UK and USA:

  • 67% of those surveyed stated that mobile gaming is a vital source of ‘me Time’
  • Almost 73% of women between the ages of 35 and 44 agreeing with the sentiment.
  • 60% of women surveyed called gaming fun
  • Over 50% valued gaming as a stress relief method
  • 39% crediting Gaming with helping them take some time to themselves
  • Two thirds of those surveyed said that gaming helped them feel ‘relaxed’, ‘stimulated’, ‘engaged’, or ‘focused’.

Overall, gaming was ranked as the sixth most popular way to relax among respondents.


Bubble shooters were ranked as the most popular genre at 48%, followed by puzzle and word games (35% each) and board and collapse games (32%). The report found that female players value problem solving, challenge, growing, and strategic thinking aspects in the games they played.


Additionally, female players showed a slight preference to gaming on iOS devices (54%) compared to Android (41%).


Respondents stated that they often felt the need to limit “me time” to a few times a week, such as prior to bed or early in the morning, due to other commitments around the house. 46% of respondents said that they didn’t get enough ‘me time’, while 32% stated they get an average amount.


Adapting design processes for gender-inclusivity

Where there’s been lots of conversation within the gaming community about gender and inclusivity, there’s been little consideration about how these issues relate to game development and design. Indeed, where female players have adapted to games, rarely has game design adapted to female player behaviours.


But the mobile gamer archetype has changed forever. Today, we are seeing that it is women aged 35 years and older that are now driving growth within mobile gaming and that older female segments are also becoming more prominent.


As a result, the types of mobile games that are targeting women are rapidly changing. Games with a strong narrative, characters with whom they can identify and interact, who’s stories reflect common themes in different life stages and experiences, are critical touch points for female gamers of all ages today.


Social play and connectivity are also key motivators for women and for those who identify as female. A community offering where players can share their progress with family and friends and invite their participation makes a game more fun and creates an experience that engages and retains users for the long term.


A great example of success is the Delicious mobile franchise, with Delicious World as its main F2P game and Emily and her stories as one of the main drivers, that has now reached over 100 million downloads, with almost one million active users a month and over $45million revenue to date. And many existing fans have played the game since day one of the first Delicious Emily game launch back in 2006


Delivering a ‘player-first vision’

Today, we see more and more evidence of insights-driven audience-specific campaigns that speak to specific genders. Taking female gamers, for example, limitations in gaming genres and platforms and gendered social stereotyping, all played a role in disenfranchising women and those who identify as female from gaming culture in the past. But today, more and more games are exploring broader storylines and characters and delivering the kind of in-game content that caters to and welcomes diversity.


Research indicates that women today yearn for ‘me time’, but often feel guilty about taking it, and that casual mobile games with strong puzzle, narrative and storytelling content can fulfil this opportunity for down time and relaxation, delivering a vital opportunity for females to unwind, recharge their batteries and have fun. So, perhaps going into the future, women will start to align ‘game time’ as a fun, productive and useful way to spend their ‘me time’.


With gender diversification continually growing, every game product or publisher decision must now be data-informed. Part of delivering this successfully includes engendering an ongoing dialogue with existing fan bases and communities that have grown alongside a franchise. But, also, in the proper analysis and consideration of diversifying cultures and their preferences in entertainment experiences.


Narrative, functionality and content that works for one segment or culture, won’t necessarily translate to others. So, establishing a deep knowledge around audience insights applied to game design is critical.


Essentially, it is only through the combination of analytics and qualitative insights that we can deliver the depth of insights that can ensure that game design remains relevant and on point for all audiences. Backing this, publishers and developers must create agile processes where ‘player-first vision’ is at the heart of everything they do.


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