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Young female market "neglected" by the games industry

New studio Tsumanga counts Dave Jones as non-exec director; inks deal for Winx Club virtual world

New Scottish studio Tsumanga believes the traditional games business has almost completely ignored a young female audience, leaving money on the table and focusing on an increasingly niche market.

Tsumanga Studios was founded by Graeme Harvey and Elias Moubayed, and boasts Grand Theft Auto, Crackdown and APB creator Dave Jones as non-executive director. The company has just signed a deal with TV and movie production company Rainbow to create a virtual world based on Winx Club, the popular animated series now in its fifth season.

"Despite evidence that outside the console market, the vast majority of gamers are female and over the age of 35, the types of product hitting the market continue to focus on this increasingly niche audience"

"It's a market which is neglected by almost everyone in the games industry," Harvey told GamesIndustry International.

"Thanks to the explosive growth in new platforms such as smartphones, tablets and browser-based games, it's a lot easier to hit these different audiences and create new experiences for the sort of players who have been almost entirely ignored by the mainstream games sector."

Winx Club is not only a successful cartoon, but has been spun off to include film, DVD, toys, clothing, books and video games - supported by a loyal female fanbase.

"Younger female players are very social and communicative, if they enjoy something - a toy, a brand or a game, then they'll tell their friends and they'll put a lot of time and effort into their activity. You've only got to look at the success of Winx Club to date, with the cartoons, toys, merchandise and experiences like the theme park to see that this is an audience which is craving new experiences."

Harvey argues that a narrow focus by the console games business has meant many games companies have missed out on huge potential, alienating an audience craving interactive entertainment.

"The games industry has been mainly focused on the teenage boy demographic for decades now.

"Despite evidence that outside the console market, the vast majority of gamers are female and over the age of 35, the types of product hitting the market continue to focus on this increasingly niche audience. It leaves huge gaps in the overall global audience and means that for any player who doesn't appreciate or want the usual genres of game, there's very little out there."

The Winx Club virtual world is aimed at 7-10 year-olds, will launch in 4 different languages initially and also include offline elements. The free-to-play service will feature a subscription for premium content when it goes live on mobile phones, tablets and browsers.

For Harvey the project is about finding a new audience and providing tailored content, rather than creating products to pre-determined expectations in a stagnating market.

"We've been working with some experts - psychologists, sociologists and so forth, to make sure we understand exactly what the younger female audience is after," he said.

"Collaboration, creativity, communication, socialising are all very important elements to the sort of female players we're looking at. A lot of which is a million miles from the more competitive and destructive aspects of the current console market.

"2013 is going to be milestone for this as markets get more saturated and developers realise they're going to have to follow the audiences which are out there. That's going to be an invaluable lesson for the industry as a whole and will prove a significant step forward for us all in the long term."

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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