Experts Column

Mobile gaming has long been regarded as a male-dominated medium, particularly in terms of market audience, character representation in games and player base too.Video game usage and live streaming has spiked as people are self-isolating in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to InMobi's 2021 Women Mobile Gaming Report, mobile gaming saw a 70 percent increase in unique users from July 2020 to April 2021.

InMobi is a multinational mobile advertising technology company headquartered in Bangalore, India. Its mobile-first platform enables brands, developers, and publishers to engage customers via contextual mobile advertising.

For this study, InMobi polled 240 female smartphone gamers and analyzed over 1.5 trillion programmatic ad requests. The study also included engagement data from VTION, a digital consumer behaviour and analytics company, from January 2021 to April 2021. The VTION panel for this study included 1419 smartphone gamers from 15 Indian states.

According to the report, 49 percent of women began playing mobile games as a result of the pandemic, based on a survey conducted by InMobi Pulse, the leading mobile consumer intelligence platform.

Vasuta Agarwal, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, InMobi said, "It is definitely a good time to let go of archaic notions that gaming is popular only among young adult males. The shift in behavior is so interesting to observe as women take to gaming with great enthusiasm. Gaming has become increasingly popular among women of all ages and marital status, defying old-school conventions. Nearly 52 percent of India’s women gamers live in metros, while 29 percent live in small towns, clearly becoming the new face of entertainment for women across India.

Women gamers spent an average of 88 minutes per day playing action-oriented games, followed by 56 minutes per day playing strategy-oriented games. While 25 percent of these female gamers are between the ages of 25 and 34, 32 percent are married with children, and 47 percent are unmarried. Ludo King, Garena Free Fire: 3volution, Candy Crush Saga, WinZo, and PUBG were the top five most downloaded apps in this region. Following the West, East India had a 20.4 percent share of downloads in Q1 2021, North and Central India had a 21.3 percent share, and South India had a 16.2 percent share.

As India's diversity grew, each region displayed its own nuanced behaviour and consumer preferences. The top five women mobile gaming epicentres in India, according to the report, are Delhi NCR, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka, and Andhra and Telangana. Interestingly, West India had the highest share of game downloads in Q1 2021, accounting for 25.3 percent of all downloads.

Ludo King, Garena Free Fire: 3volution, Candy Crush Saga, WinZo, and PUBG were the top five most downloaded apps in this region. Following the West, East India had a 20.4 percent share of downloads in Q1 2021, North and Central India had a 21.3 percent share, and South India had a 16.2 percent share.

In this pandemic, three types of gamers were observed: committed gamers, regular gamers, and occasional gamers. Committed gamers, who account for 77% of all female mobile gamers, play once to several times per day, while regular gamers play at least once per week and occasional gamers play once per month or less.

The study found that among these dedicated female gamers, there was a 38% increase in time spent and a 33% increase in the variety of games played in 2020.

To discover new games, committed gamers relied primarily on advertisements in gaming apps, with app store recommendations and advertisements on other apps also playing a significant role. On the other hand, 41 percent of regular and occasional female gamers were likely to rely on ads in other apps because they were interested in playing games that were already popular.

Women gamers in the country were familiar with advertisements in the gaming environment, with 79% preferring to watch an ad to advance in a game or gain benefits. Almost 55 percent of female mobile gamers confirmed their ability to recall ads seen in mobile games because the ads were either engaging and interactive, related to a topic of interest, or about a relevant brand or product.

The ecosystem is well positioned to assist brands in reaching this important segment of Women Mobile Gamers. Categories with women as their primary TG, such as CPG, Healthcare, and Home Appliances, can truly benefit from recognising these shifts in women's behaviour patterns and leveraging innovative means of capturing attention through gaming apps. Whether it's large-scale programmatic gaming media buying, gamified integration of brand messages/offers, or reward mechanisms, the core audience of most brands is now consistently proving to be gaming-friendly.

In an effort to change up the industry, Google Play previously committed to highlighting strong female characters within its “Indie Corner” on the Google Play Store and opening the doors to female tech and gaming innovators.