Meet Jane. She owns a smartphone or tablet. The install base on Android and iOS devices alone is larger than all the current gen consoles combined. According to Flurry (an app analytics company) there are also about 26 million unique users who play games approximately 25 minutes per day on their smart device. 53% of these smartphone gamers are women.
As of last year, half (51%) of U.S. smartphone owners were women, and half of smartphone owners have used voice commands. Jane likes her smartphone!
According to a 2010 report for Popcap, Jane is among the 55% of women who play social games on their PC or smartphones. The most popular games at the time were Bejeweled Blitz, Farmville and Mafia Wars.
While Jane is a majority in the smartphone/social gaming world, she is still a minority in the console world. According to a 2010 report for Nintendo by M2 Research, female gamers made up 26% of PS3/Xbox/Wii gamers, and 80% of that 26% were Wii gamers (with 11% on the Xbox and 9% on the PS3... but this is 11% and 9% of only that original 26%). Even if these figures have changed over the years, women still make up only a small fraction of Xbox/PS3 gamers. Also of note is that women make up the majority of Facebook (57%) and Twitter users ((59%), which is confirmed by various other studies that generally put the gender split at close to even for those social media networks. Additional data shows that while 80% of female console owners may be using a Wii... they also make up almost 49% of the Wii's total user base in the U.S.
Jane is part of the 61% of Nielsen TV viewers who checked her email while watching TV, and she does this more often than Joe.
Devs are making games for Jane. A survey of devs attending GDC this year showed that 58.39% of them are making their next game for a smartphone/tablet - not the PS4, WiiU or the Xbox One. In fact, the next Halo game will be a Windows 8 game... not just on PC, but also for tablets and smartphones. Most gamers are quite familiar with the various stories of developers who are now focusing on mobile gaming... Electronic Arts, Square Enix, Epic Games, Capcom, Sega... they all make smartphone games. As gamers, we've all seen the stories of devs like Nihilistic Software (creator of games like Playstation Move Heroes, Black Ops Declassified and Resistance: Burning Skies) or Incognito (Warhawk/Starhawk) who no longer make console games and have moved over to making portable smartphone games. With the addition of the female demographic, smartphone and portable gaming is growing, while console gaming has seen very little growth in recent years. The financial risks on smaller portable games is also an attraction for developers in this current world where expensive console games often don't meet financial expectations.
Jane is among the 54% of Skype users that are female.
Jane like Sci Fi and Fantasy. The highest rated cable TV show among females is "The Walking Dead". Women make up 57% of Star Trek fans. Even "Game of Thrones", a fantasy epic that is filled with nearly-naked women and strong, manly men draws in 42% of it's viewer base from women.
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Jane also don't mind shows about nearly naked beautiful women... the highest rated network TV show among women is... America's Next Top Model.
Jane likes sports. She's still a minority, but 37% of Nascar's fanbase is female. 43% to 50% of the NFL's fanbase is... yeah, I too was surprised... female. The sport that really draws in the female viewership though is Figure Skating at 70% female viewership.
Reference Reference Reference Putting it all together:
What these random "fun facts about females" illustrate is that women are not a demographic that abhors violence. We apparently like violent sports and violent TV shows just fine. We also don't mind nearly naked women in our entertainment if the viewing statistics for America's Next Top Model and shows like "Game of Thrones" are to be believed. The "male dominated" realm of video games are only dominated by males in the sub-category of console gaming... women are the slight majority in most measurements of social, mobile and smartphone gaming. Women don't have an issue with tech and they own smartphones in equal or greater numbers to men. All in all, women aren't really all that much different from men in terms of things we like.
The other fact is that women ARE changing gaming. It's not the Anita Sarkeesians or the individual voices motivating this change... it's that very large, nebulous, demographic that, when combined with a male demographic, can create a powerhouse. Women already like smartphones and social gaming. They like the motion controls of the Wii. They like Skype, Facebook, Twitter and the ability to use social networking while watching TV. They'll use voice commands. They even like sports. Yup, you guessed it! The Xbox One might just as well be called the XXBox One because it's design is no longer XY (male) centric. Smartglass, Kinect, multitasking, social network integration all seem integral to the new XXbox design and whether Microsoft knows it or not, they've designed a gaming system that might make console gamers out of some of those social gaming, facebooking, skyping, TV watching, Twittering women. Microsoft may or may not market to women directly (as Nintendo very successfully did with the Wii), but the fact is that they have positioned themselves well to do so.
Now before the manly men who play Call of Duty get their boxers in a twist, the reality is that Microsoft offers these as "extras". You'll still pay your monthly fee to access almost all services, you'll still get your Halo's and Call of Duties and other manly games... but if you game on the new XXbox One, you may also find more and more female voices in your games. You may find your wife, your girlfriend or your sister wanting to use the XXbox. It might be a woman sitting next to you enjoying the new Steven Spielberg Halo TV series. Increasingly we're already seeing Fable and other series being co-opted by Kinect integration, and this was always going to continue because the only way to increase the current demographic is to attract more "casual" gamers, male AND female. Increasingly we've been seeing console games adopt social gaming financial models such as microtransactions and "free to play" that turns out to not be quite so "free". This is simply a reality and those models will sit alongside the "season passes" and DLC driven console models. Video gaming is changing and will continue to change as it has since it's inception... but the current changes? Well, to some degree these changes could well be driven by women, females, girls... those oppressed poor creatures in the manly man's world of video games. When men weren't looking, we may have stealthily crept in... and taken over the man cave! (and it really needs to be re-decorated... maybe new curtains and a pretty fern in the corner?)
Now obviously not all women are "Jane". Jane is a generality, an amalgamation of various statistics done at various points in time that merely give a vague indication of what Jane likes. I'm sure that there really is no XXbox conspiracy... but I just found it rather interesting that many of the studies and stats I've noticed over the years seem to mesh together in the recent Xbox One design. Women are all different, just like men are all different, and me, I'm an "Elsa"... and I'll be buying a PS4. :)
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