Women in the Gaming Industry by Mintel

Game Changers: Women in the Gaming Industry

March 12, 2024
6 min read

The video gaming industry is experiencing a welcome shift, with women gamers making up a significant and ever-growing portion of the player base. Nearly three-quarters of women play video games, and of these gamers almost eight in 10 play at least weekly. This play rate is indicative of serious consumer participation and presents real opportunities for brands to promote women in gaming.

Women’s Gaming Preferences

A powerful demographic within the world of video gaming, women gamers are often under-targeted. Women’s nuanced gaming behaviour indicates major opportunities for brands to grow.

General participation trends

Mobile gaming is popular among women gamers. Of the platforms available, namely mobile, PC, and console, mobile is the most appealing. Almost seven in 10 women gamers consider their mobile device their primary gaming device, compared to six in 10 overall (all demographics). Looking deeper, women play puzzle, trivia, or word games at a much higher rate than men. With busy schedules and a need for on-the-go options to game, women benefit from the touch tap-and-go style of gaming that mobile offers.

Women, particularly younger women, like to stick to what they know when it comes to their gaming preferences. 61% of women aged 18-34 prefer to purchase video games in genres they enjoy, versus only half of men of the same age group. Availability on their chosen platform is also a stronger driver for women. Younger women gamers may be more likely to try games from brands they recognise, making it important for brands to provide targeted marketing and advertising that reaches this demographic’s loyalty.

Excluding Nintendo Switch Online and Apple Arcade—where women outpace and match male players respectively—women don’t yet match men for subscribing rates on most video game subscription platforms. Brands should take note. Women appreciate the frugality of gaming subscriptions at a higher rate than men, so it may be beneficial to highlight the cost-saving benefits of game subscriptions over premium one-off purchases. Nintendo may already be appealing in this regard.

With women less likely to make gaming-related purchases such as hardware or in-app, there’s significant potential to tap into the participation trends of women for effective targeting. Mintel data reveals that women particularly enjoy the social aspects of leisure activities. Considering this, brands can drive purchases through offerings that enable in-person social interaction alongside women’s preferred gaming device: mobile.

Woman Mobile Gamer
Women’s preferred gaming device is mobile
Source: Getty Images

Women in eSports

Despite women gaming almost as much as men, the majority of eSports players are men. This may reflect a built-in bias in the industry. Initiatives are making headway to tackle disparity, such as the Equal eSports Cup in Germany, and FAMEHERGAME, which aims to create opportunities for women globally in FIFA football games. However, women’s preferred genre is role-playing games (RPGs), and with fewer women than men agreeing that eSports players are good role models, there’s an opportunity to promote professional women gamers across genres like RPG.

But, are women treated fairly in eSports? 74% of men believe that eSports competitions are a meritocracy, compared to 56% of women. While this view of “the best succeed” prevails for men, both demographics almost equally believe that men get more encouragement and support in eSports. Underlying toxicity around women’s participation in the gaming industry may be a root cause. Addressing this, all-women eSports teams and leagues have been developed. Creating this safe environment has been approved as a way to encourage women’s participation in eSports, but some say it doesn’t address the underlying issues for women in the gaming industry.

Women Gaming Team
All-women eSports teams have been created, addressing inequality
Source: Getty Images

Addressing Challenges in the Gaming Industry

The broader gaming industry still has areas for improvement to better the landscape for women gamers. According to Mintel’s Women and Gaming Report, women face a culture in video gaming that can be unwelcoming, and where harassment does happen. Choosing inclusive communities or using privacy settings that limit negative interactions may form part of women’s resilience to toxicity in the gaming world. Importantly, while the report reveals online harassment isn’t the most significant barrier to gaming for women, brands must address any behaviour that discourages participation.

Women are also mostly not broadcasting their gamer status. Less than a third of women who play games consider themselves “gamers”, and almost eight in 10 keep their gaming interests to themselves. Facing challenges in the industry, women may prefer to see video gaming as a personal experience. Given that women indicate gaming as a stress relief more than other demographics, and with women’s busy lifestyles, they may be less concerned with the wider gaming community, and more with their enjoyment of gaming.

Still, gaming companies must recognise that making gaming a welcoming environment for women means supporting, and engaging, almost half the gaming industry’s player base.

What Can Brands Do to Promote Women in Gaming?

The number of women who game is on the rise. As the majority of women expect to play video games in the next five years, and all gamers generally expect to play more in the future, brands can make a conscious effort to cater to women in the gaming industry. Initiatives are already in place, providing a great starting point for brands looking to follow suit. But, there’s still a lot to be done.

Creating an equal environment for women will be pivotal to encouraging future participation, and improving representation is one way to do this. Those with an influence on game development can look to encourage the creation of women characters that offer depth and a central role. Brands can also sponsor women eSports players and streamers, providing role models for younger women who will shape the gaming industry going forward. Women are undoubtedly powerful gaming consumers, and the brands that acknowledge this are going to be in a good position in the future.

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