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Platform, not gender, drives gamer differences - EEDAR

By Heather Nofziger, PhD

Platform, not gender, drives gamer differences - EEDAR

Thu 30 Oct 2014 2:05pm GMT / 10:05am EDT / 7:05am PDT
ResearchInsights

Dr. Heather Nofziger, EEDAR's head of survey research, offers some perspective on common misperceptions about gender

Historically, video games have been marketed primarily to male players - but gaming has never been a monolithic entity. The vibrancy and variety of experiences offered by the global industry is one of its greatest strengths, and it's been on a trajectory towards more diversity - and not less - for some time now.

Tracing the development of the industry, it becomes clear that this diversity has largely been driven by the evolution of hardware and the introduction of new platforms that allow for unique experiences. From PC to consoles and designated handhelds, from the family-friendly Wii to smartphones and tablets; each of these has given rise to unique gameplay and allowed players to fit video games into their lives in new ways.

Recently, the rapid rise of mobile gaming and smart devices has made it tempting to argue that this increased diversification has compromised the traditional gaming experience. From this perspective, recent industry trends have reflected a perceived 'casualization' of gaming, as match-3 puzzle players are being lumped in with traditional gamers. Although the mobile platform has certainly been uniquely capable of attracting a wide market (it is easily the most accessible and welcoming platform on the market - requiring devices that people probably already own and offering the greatest variety of play options), the popularity of smartphones/tablets as gaming devices has hardly been driven by new players alone.

"This data suggests that, far from being a threat, the trend towards diversity is to the industry's overall benefit. It reflects the expansion into new markets, bringing gaming to wider audiences"

If we look at the broader market, we find that much of this growth has actually taken place among existing gamers. Looking specifically at the most "traditional" gamers - core PC and console gamers - we find that the vast majority (86%) are actively gaming across multiple platforms (PC, console, handheld, mobile), and of these, most (75%) are incorporating mobile as one of those platforms. This suggests that, far from detracting from traditional gaming, these new options supplement and enhance the overall experience by allowing them to incorporate gaming into more areas of their daily lives.

Understanding heavy overlap in player-ship across platforms is only part of the issue, however, and the question still remains as to how the more diverse population of players impacts the popular perception of the gamer identity. Traditionally, it was held that male and female players acted and gamed in significantly different ways, with men gravitating to more core gaming experiences while women leaned more towards casual ones.

But in reality, this perception appears to be far from accurate - active gamers (whether they are male or female) are engaging with video games in largely the same manner. This is not to say that all men and women are gaming identically, but that the overarching pattern and their average level of investment do not differ significantly. The truly significant differences, rather, emerge along platform lines.

1

Gamers seek out those experiences that best suit the amount of investment they are willing or able to put forth at a given time. As a result, those who seek lower investment games tend to play on mobile platforms, while those who have more time and/or money to invest look for handheld or console experiences. This is not to suggest that gamers are tied to a single experience, however - remember that most (86%) are engaging in varied experiences across multiple platforms. In this way most gamers are balancing several options, and gravitate towards that which best suits their needs at a given time.

2

It should be noted that for the purpose of this analysis, PC gaming was not separately segmented largely because it is difficult to obtain data that accurately represents the full breadth of the PC gaming experience - considering that the possibilities range from hyper-casual card games and browser-based social games, to Shooters and RPGs, and the hyper-core MMORPGs, and MOBAs. To provide some context for PC gaming, an examination of core PC (e.g. Steam) gamers suggests that the market is still largely male (65%), with male gamers tending to be slightly heavier players/payers than females (58% of men are heavy players/payers, compared to 40% of women). Despite this difference in investment, there is a heavy degree of overlap in genre preferences - with RPGs, MMORPGs and Strategy games being among players' top five genres.

Taken together, this data suggests that, far from being a threat, the trend towards diversity is to the industry's overall benefit. It reflects the expansion into new markets, bringing gaming to wider audiences and allowing gamers to add new experiences to their repertoire. Furthermore, any schism between how gamers play is largely driven by the platforms they use, and the game experiences offered on them, and not the gender of the players.

With this in mind, the market is certainly open to continued growth. The new platforms and experiences are not supplanting traditional gaming. Instead, they are adding to it by providing gamers (both new and seasoned) with broader opportunities to incorporate gaming into more parts of their lives. As long as games continue to fulfill their varied roles across different platforms, gamers will seek them out just as they have over the past 30 years.

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8 Comments

Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship

277 744 2.7
I immediately demand a doubling of the number of active women console gamers, on the basis that this will net me more awesome RPGs to play.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Isaiah Taylor Writer/Photographer

26 2 0.1
I think it's interesting that this study wants to separate the idea of what is played on said platform(s) vs what these platforms [advertising wise] have transformed to for consumers. Marketing departments exist for a reason and marketing campaigns, over time, have an influence. If we live in a society that has gender-based marketing and advertising. Shouldn't that be factored into how these studys on how gender "totally doesn't" play a role in platform preference [and subsequently the games that come with them]?

Posted:A year ago

#2

William Usher Assistant Editor, Cinema Blend

47 51 1.1
Marketing departments exist for a reason and marketing campaigns, over time, have an influence. If we live in a society that has gender-based marketing and advertising. Shouldn't that be factored into how these studys on how gender "totally doesn't" play a role in platform preference [and subsequently the games that come with them]?
Except, in one study by Adjust Research it was revealed that many companies advertise certain apps and casual software three times more to boys than girls, yet the mobile market still attracts more female players over male players.

Marketing plays a role, but people will still flock to what they desire.

Posted:A year ago

#3

James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada

315 426 1.4
Heather, if you're reading comments, can you provide the genre categories used for each segmentation here? Looking at console, I'm seeing the "top 5 genres", but wondering how many other genre segments had meaningful populations at all. Those 8 genre categories (including handheld, excluding mobile) seem to make up the vast bulk of games, so saying "These are the top 5" matters less than the weight between those top 5.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Pete Thompson Editor

235 159 0.7
"Platform Not Gender Drives Gamer Differences"
Through my own experiences as a gamer since the 80's I would have to disagree that it's only a choice between.gender or platform. We all know that platform preference is well known when it comes to gaming, just as it is between iPhone & Android users etc. Take a look on any Call of Duty or a Battlefield trailer, there's no platform loyalty or gender difference to be seen, you'll only see a preference for one IP over another..
"Furthermore, any schism between how gamers play is largely driven by the platforms they use, and the game experiences offered on them, and not the gender of the players."
How can a PS Player play a game such as Call of Duty for example, any differently to a PC or Xbox Gamer?

There should be no "schism" between gamers as we all have the same hobby / pastime, and gaming sites should be seen to encourage the fact that we are gamers, maybe then and only then will we see the fall of the fanboyism and trolls that gaming is renowned for..

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 30th October 2014 6:49pm

Posted:A year ago

#5

Brian Lewis Operations Manager, PlayNext

170 120 0.7
How can a PS Player play a game such as Call of Duty for example, any differently to a PC or Xbox Gamer?
There is a significant difference between PC/Console on a title such as Call of Duty. The controls alone make a huge difference (which is why console makers don't like to see PC/Console players to compete head to head in these types of games). Then there is a difference in the matchmaking, voice options, even social networking. As a platform, there are significant differences, even for titles that at identical.. because what the platform offers changes how the game is experienced.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster

490 219 0.4
How can a PS Player play a game such as Call of Duty for example, any differently to a PC or Xbox Gamer?
1. In my experience, there's been a rather large schism between adoption rates of headsets and VOIP on Xbox vs PS3 until very late in the last generation, which created a complimentary schism in amount of in-game communities created. For a long time on PS3, there was one or two players with headsets every few matches, and whilst it certainly made for more peaceful gaming without trolls, loudmouth kids etc etc, it also meant that there was a distinct lack of community. This was a very large contributor to my decision to get the console I did this generation: keeping the friends I had made online.


2. Gamers tend to pick platforms based on games, so it only seems natural that a huge fighting game fan for example, would have bought a PS2 over an Original Xbox simply for games like Tekken. It's not so much that gamers are stereotyped by platform, but that they often have common interests and that's why they actually chose the platform. We all know that exclusives often make the difference.

3. Then with a lot of core gamers being multiplayer driven I find that gamers that want those 'CoD' kinda games will often pick their console purely on the basis of what console the people they will spend a lot of time playing with are getting, and most of those that they play with are of the same opinion, so are largely classed as sheep led by the gamer(s) in the group that will actually want certain exclusive games.

4. Don't get started on the difference between how a console player plays CoD vs a PC player.

5. I, in all honesty, believe that these differences have a far more dramatic effect than the gender of the player in the seat, but hey, sensationalism and all.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Ihegbu on 30th October 2014 8:06pm

Posted:A year ago

#7

Heather Nofziger Head of Survey Research - Insights, EEDAR

1 3 3.0
Great question James: To provide some context, the genres utilized for Console, Handheld and PC (which is discussed, but does not appear in the infographic) come from EEDARs classification system, and were intended to represent 14 key experiences across the platforms, including: the 8 genres in the graphic, Strategy, Narrative, Sports, Macro/City Simulation, and Skill/Chance (e.g. card or board games).This was, of course, not an exhaustive list, but was intended to represent both the most common experiences and the breadth (from casual to core) of options available across platforms.

As for the rankings – these were based on respondents’ selections of their favorites (up to 5) for each platform that they actively game on (e.g. have played in the past month), and were ranked based on the percentage who selected the genre as one of their favorites. The main purpose of including the basic rankings was to show that out of the breadth of options available, men/women tend to gravitate towards the same types of experiences on each platform (which, as you mentioned, tend to be those best suited and represented in the space). Unfortunately space did not permit a full outline of the responses/options.

To give a sense of the weighting, the average percentages were as follows: Handheld (61%, 51%, 46%, 38%, 29%), and Console (53%, 48%, 39%, 32%, 27%). Differences between groups at each ranking averaged 3-4%, with men tending to have higher percentages across the board (they were more likely to choose the maximum number of genres). All other genres fell below 22%, with an average of 15%.

Posted:A year ago

#8

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