Breaking Down Mobile Gaming Demographics

Aug 14, 2019
By: Jean Ortiz-Luis

Next time you’re on public transport, take a look around and it’s a solid bet most if not all of your fellow passengers are on their mobile phones, and many will be playing games. The gaming audience has been growing rapidly over the last several years thanks in large part to mobile devices and the apps everyone (and we do mean almost everyone) is playing on them. The widespread use of smartphones has pushed mobile gaming’s popularity to incredible heights.

While the numbers of mobile gamers continue to increase, many advertisers still hold on to old misconceptions of just who gamers are. Research studies have shown that the modern mobile gaming audience spans genders and generations.

Gaming is No Longer a Boys’ Club

While video games were historically played mostly by males, that is no longer the case. The rise of mobile gaming has resulted in a significant increase in female gamers. According to a study by Newzoo and Google Play, 49% of mobile gamers are women. Additionally, 65% of women aged 10-65 in the United States play mobile games. The study also shows the correlation between smartphone penetration in the U.S. and the number of women who play mobile games.

The burgeoning market of female mobile gamers is not only in the U.S. but also across the globe. The United Kingdom was ranked as the 6th biggest market in the world in 2018 and Newzoo’s research revealed that in U.K.’s online population, 49% of men and 48% of women play mobile games. Even smaller markets are seeing rapid increases in female gamers. According to Statista, Norway is home to 1.3 million mobile gamers and 51% of their female survey respondents said they played games on their smartphones, while only 26% of males said they used their mobile devices for games.

These are all self-reported stats. The percentage of mobile gamers shoots through the roof if you just look at what apps users have installed and use on their phones. Many don’t consider mobile sudoku, word search, scrabble, or other “brain games” to be mobile games in the same way Angry Birds might. But they’re still playing them.

Mobile Gaming Spans Generations

The ubiquity of smartphones has not only shifted the demographics of gamers in terms of gender but also age. Entertainment Software Association’s study on American gamers stated that the overall average age of gamers is 33, contrary to the common belief that the average gamer is in their teens or twenties. Furthermore, Mediakix says that the largest portion of mobile gamers are aged 55-years and older (23%) and the smallest portion is made up of 13-17-year-olds (8%).

Our own research gave additional insights into the habits and preferences of older gamers. In the U.S. edition of our Under the Microscope survey, we discovered that 59% of mobile gamers aged 35 and older played games on their mobile devices several times per day. Moreover, 88% of the same age group said they preferred to watch video ads for extra lives or in-game content.

It has been proven time and time again that the notion of gaming as a niche market is no longer true. Game publishers and in-app advertisers are realizing the enormous potential to capture various types of consumers through their mobile devices. Brands may have previously foregone advertising in mobile games because of the outdated belief that they would only reach a narrow audience. If brands continue to follow this thinking, they will miss out on an engaged and expansive audience.

By Jean Ortiz-Luis
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