Video games attracting larger female audience


According to Gamer Segmentation 2009, the most recent report from leading market research company, The NPD Group, the number of female gamers are is on the rise in 2009 compared to 2008, significantly among Console Gamers.  There was a four percentage point rise in females among both Heavy Portable and Extreme Gamers.

The report, which provides detailed analysis into the following seven gamer segments, are defined by ownership, usage and frequency:  Console; Secondary; Online PC; Avid PC; Offline PC; Heavy Portable; and Extreme. It examines the segments relative not only to each other but to the average gamer, a composite sketch of all gamers, independent of segment definition.

Females increased by five percentage points among Console Gamers, from 23 percent in 2008 to 28 percent in 2009.  Since the rise in console usage among Console Gamers can be mainly attributed to the Wii, which increased in usage by 19 percentage points from last year, this underscores the finding that more females are using console systems, especially the Wii.

“Last year was one of the most transformative in history in terms of defining the audience for gaming, said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Even with the increased competition from mobile and social network gaming, the console gamer segment added the most new participants to its ranks in the last year.”

Extreme Gamers are in a league of their own when it comes to hours played and titles purchased.  Extreme Gamers play an average of 39 hours a week, which is 10 hours more than the next highest segment in terms of hours played, Avid PC Gamers.  Purchasing 24 titles throughout Q4 2008,  Extreme Gamers purchased more than six times the number of games compared to any other segment.

While Extreme Gamers have become somewhat less extreme in their game play in terms of hours per week spent on gaming (down by close to seven hours relative to 2008), they still spend the most time on gaming compared to all other segments. Even with the lowest household income, Extreme Gamers buy more than four times the number of titles compared to other segments.

Even though Extreme Gamers play and buy much more, their impact on that market is minimal due to their very small size, only 4 percent of total gamers.  In fact, they under-indexed (using the market size opportunity index) on frequency, console and portable ownership.

In terms of online game play, on average, 38 percent of gamers’ time was spent playing a game online, with the rest being played offline.  This is flat when compared to the previous year, so despite focus of industry on more online game play opportunities, there is not that much of an increase in the number of  gamers taking advantage of it.

On average, 16 percent of games purchased in Q4 2008 were downloaded digitally, but
the average number of gamers willing to pay for all types of micro-transactions decreased over last year.

“This could be caused by the increased availability of free gaming, putting a downward price pressure on the industry,” said Frazier.