Female #gamers on the rise as pandemic habits stick

– 20% more women are gaming now than pre-pandemic

– A quarter of women identify as ‘hardcore’ gamers comapred to three quarters of men – but their purchase habits tell a different story

– 30% more women find in-store gaming displays more practical than men

– Women are more likely to ‘try before you buy’ products than men

– Three quarters of women research gaming products online before splurging

According to new research out today, the number of women who take up gaming grew by nearly 20% during the pandemic, and 49% are most likely to invest time in the action and adventure genre.

The study, conducted this summer by retail innovation agency Outform, covers a representative sample of more than 1,000 global respondents, and delves into how consumers’ gaming habits and purchase behaviours are evolving.

Outform’s Play To Win Report 2021 found women have been quicker to take up gaming as a portable experience. Four in five (83%) use their mobile devices to game, while seven in ten (68%) men do the same. It’s also the games native to these devices that are the real winners: 41% of women list Candy Crush as their favourite game, with just 17% and 20% naming FIFA and Call of Duty respectively.

But this isn’t to say traditional consoles are out of the picture for female gamers, given 75% of them still use tried and tested favourites such as PlayStation and Xbox. They’re simply less tied to the traditional format, and are more open to play across multiple platforms.

Compared to their male counterparts, only a quarter (28%) identified themselves as ‘hardcore’ gamers – seven in ten (72%) men see themselves in this light.

However, their shopping habits suggest a different story. Stacked up against men, women are 15% more likely to try before they buy in-store. They also find in-store displays 30% more practical than men do, and use this tactile, first-person experience to inform purchase decisions.

The study shows men going against their self-ascribed ‘hardcore’ gamer status, with 29% more of them shopping for ‘fun’ when it comes to gaming kit, compared to the research-heavy approach of women.

Simon Hathaway, MD EMEA at Outform, says: “Men are stereotypically assumed to be the heavy gamers, but Outform’s research shows that it pays not to make assumptions. Women are investing time to explore the paraphernalia that will give them an optimal gaming experience and are more flexible in the way they play, be it wired up to a TV or on-the-go on small screens, the latter of which benefit from a low barrier to entry. Gaming is no longer a boys’ club – it’s truly a cross-gender, multigenerational activity where everyone is welcome.”

The report also found that women are more dedicated to their chosen gaming brands. 61% – compared to 55% of men – claim they are loyal to the gaming brands they believe in. Women are also the driving influence in gaming, with 44% claiming to recommend new products to friends and family. They’re dab-hands when it comes to ecommerce too, with three quarters (74%) of women researching gaming products online before parting with their cash.

Hathaway adds: “The next task for retailers is ensuring that in-store experiences are more inclusive for women, be it demonstrating the diversity of in-game characters or ensuring the store layout is one that’s welcoming for everyone.

“They could also do well to keep innovative tech in mind for the in-store experience. Concepts like voice-activated displays, gesture sensors and QR codes can drive a seamless experience for all, whether their motivations are research-led or to experience the store’s offerings. And given the brand loyalty and product influence from women, having an in-store experience that’s wholly inclusive will be a quick growth driver.”

The research was conducted by Outform, for the agency’s Play To Win Report 2021. A total of 1,047 gamers were surveyed across the UK, USA and France in March 2021, with the aid of the GWI (formerly GlobalWebIndex) Recontact panel.