Asifa SunarApr 17, 2019 16:25:18 IST
From more women protagonists and gaming characters to celebrity women gamers — the mobile gaming industry is sitting up and taking notice of its rapidly growing female user base and waking up to the huge market potential that exists in inclusivity.
Esports is rapidly gaining popularity in India and while it is not quite mainstream yet, the market is certainly getting there. Console and PC gaming are making it big in India’s top cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai etc. where access and affordability are less of a hindrance. A large portion of India’s top gamers from these cities represent India in global Esports tournaments.
There is a similar momentum building in India’s tier 2 and 3 markets not in console and PC gaming — but in mobile gaming. Mobile gaming, thanks to easy smartphone and low-cost data access is becoming the go-to recreational activity for several men and women in India. India is now the 5th largest mobile gaming market, globally with over 250 Million gamers according to MMA’s Power of Gaming in India report. While about 2/3 of Indian mobile gamers are male, the growing number of women players in mobile gaming is making developers and gaming app makers sit up and take notice. Today, women make up about 32 percent of all gamers in the country.
To understand what appeals to a woman we can look at overall internet usage habits of women. 40 percent of YouTube users today are women according to a Google report. In addition, women spend 50 percent more time on video streaming than men. Women are driving the growth in e-commerce, not only from urban centers but also from tier 2 & 3 markets which increasingly account for a large part of the overall growth. Easy access, ease of use, convenience, and low investment are key factors that appeal to women. And these are the very factors that make mobile gaming so popular among them.
Why is mobile gaming so attractive to women?
Indian women are indeed avid gamers! According to a study by InMobi, Indian women are engaging more with mobile games than with any other app category. About 32 percent of mobile gamers in India are women, a statistic that is inching close to the global average of 45 percent. This data is significant given Indian women only account for one-third of the mobile Internet user population in India.
Women also tend to spend more time playing mobile games than their male counterparts. On average, male mobile gamers spent just under an hour gaming each day. However, female gamers played for nearly 70 minutes. That’s almost fifteen percent longer than their male counterparts. It’s also interesting to note that women tend to play games five times or more often during the week for a variety of reasons including entertainment and stress relief.
Not a Hindrance to their schedules.
Women like to play games that do not last more than 5-10 minutes. This allows them some well-deserved recreation time without hindering their schedules. Additionally, women mobile gamers are more likely to be daily users, according to a Mediakix report which says that 60 percent of female mobile gamers play daily as opposed to just 47 percent of male mobile gamers.
When you add it all up, women users are spending disproportionately more time on mobile gaming than their male counterparts.
Entertainment and de-stress
In Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets too, mobile games serve as a source of quick, boredom-beating entertainment, a bit of stress relief and a distraction from the real world. Internationally renowned games such as Candy Crush Saga, Subway Surfers and Temple Run generate healthy downloads because of their easy learning curve and high entertainment value.
Competitiveness and opportunity to socialize
Women tend to be highly social when it comes to mobile gaming, especially with features that allow them to bring new friends into the game and form new friendships with other players. Women also polled that they are attracted to the opportunity to compete and win rewards.
A change is gonna come
A prevalent myth is that eSports enthusiasts are children and young adults, but in India, that isn’t the entire truth. Just as the gender stereotype of gamers doesn’t hold true, neither does the age one. Most women gamers are in the age group of 25 years and more than half of these female mobile gamers are working women and mothers.
India has over 250 million mobile gamers, spending an average of 60 minutes on gaming apps every day and that number is estimated to reach 368 million by 2022. A large part of this growth will come from female mobile gamers who do not fit the gaming stereotype of young urban male. It may be time for Indian game developers, looking to launch games for Indian audiences, to take female gamers more seriously, as they are most likely to fuel the sector’s growth in the next few years.
It is also encouraging to see that major gaming studios have also taken heed of the trend and are trading traditionally male-dominated games for ones starring female leads. Gradually the overall industry is evolving for the better, into a more inclusive, gender-sensitive one and acknowledging the millions of women who are creating, playing and hosting these games. There could not be a better time for women developers and gamers to start their careers in this emerging industry.
Asifa Sunar heads Product Quality at Mobile Premier League (MPL). Asifa is an IIT Delhi Alumnus with over a decade's experience in engineering and quality assurance across industries like gaming, fashion and transportation. Being an avid gamer herself Asifa believes the future of gaming is female.