You Can’t Make Money Without Women

One of the most fun parts of running a data company (Apptopia) is in discovering trends that shatter people’s expectations and preconceived notions. This week was definitely one of those fun weeks. As with most compelling things recently, it all started with Fortnite…

After having this data featured in Bloomberg, I was interviewed by CNBC, and this is when things got interesting. But before I get into this, let’s start by properly establishing what the current misconception is:

In other words… only men play games. Men who play games eat junk food, drink Red Bull, are out of shape, and are all around huge geeks.

The truth is, this is completely wrong. Mobile apps and mobile gaming in general have sparked a massive demographic shift in gaming, ultimately ushering in an era of “Casual Gaming”. You no longer have to buy a game console or a computer game to be a “gamer”. You only need to be bored on your commute to work.

The more research we did, the more it became obvious that is was no accident at all that 46% of mobile Fortnite players in the U.S. are female. In fact, we did an analysis of the top 10 highest grossing mobile games in the United States (i.e. the top 10 gaming apps which people spend the most money in every single day) and found that an average of 52% of their players are female! That is wild.

More than wild, I actually realized it’s freaking brilliant. Major publishers today like King, Supercell, Peak Games, etc. realized that even if they dominate the male gaming market, it’s simply not big enough to make it to the top. So they started designing games which had elements that both male and female players would enjoy.

It’s actually not so dissimilar from what Disney & Pixar realized years ago with their animated movies. They needed to inject clever jokes, quips, comments, etc. which keep adults entertained without taking away from the obvious entertainment value these movies provide kids.

Larger audience = larger payout.

Top Grossing Game Demographic Splits in the U.S.

Here are some key qualitative takeaways we found:

  • Uncomplex game play with low barrier to entry
  • Emphasis on high definition graphics, aesthetically pleasing visuals, characters, and scenery
  • Fighting, killing, and weapons are actually OK but gore, blood, and realistic graphics around this are a major deterrent for female gamers
  • Incorporating “building” and “strategy” and “resource collection” components into the game is important

The top grossing mobile games got there because they understand how to incorporate game mechanics and themes that people of all ages and sexes can enjoy. While identifying a niche can be lucrative, the serious money is made by catering across demographics.