Women Rule Social Games, but Won’t Pay to Play

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Women may be on the way to ruling the social gaming industry, but they don’t really want to pay much to play. A recent study by Q Interactive and Engage Expo indicates that 55% of female game players feel that companies would charge in the future, and keep their wallets shut when it comes to paying for social and casual games. That could be a dismal figure for the social and casual gaming industry, especially as it looks towards the growing number of platforms making it possible for increased game distribution.

In general, women have been taking over a lot of things Internet-related. Social networking and various aspects of online shopping are heavily used by women, and women are often the majority of users for several of these outlets. Gaming has come as a recent and surprising development as far as the female takeover is concerned, though social and casual gaming has been correlated to social media outlets, which is where women already dominate the user base.

The platforms provided by the likes of Facebook have made it easier for game publishers and developers to distribute their content, reviving the industry as a whole. In that regard, it makes a lot of sense that women would become some of the heaviest users of social and casual gaming. But it may not be the best place to expect women to spend their hard-earned cash.

Even when it comes to spending money on their kid’s gaming habits, women keep a tight hold on their budgets. Eighty-three percent of women that allow their children to play games don’t allow any game-related spending at all, while 3% allocate more than $20 per month on gaming.

That may be bad news for game publishers and developers, as well as advertisers looking to use social and casual gaming as a portal for marketing. The virtual goods economy has a high potential for generating revenue through social and casual gaming, but if women are the majority of its users and they’re not willing to pay much, then developers, publishers and advertisers will need to find another way around the monetization issue.

One option is to include branding messages without charging for it. In this way, advertisers and game publishers rely heavily on marketing within the game environment, playing up the freemium model to a certain extent. Another option is to become more transparent in marketing and monetization methods, as the recurring charges or indirect monetization of certain games has caused the gaming industry to lose footing with its target demographic.

The rise of game-related scams has contributed to the negative connotation of social games found on Facebook, mobile devices and Twitter, raising alarms when anything related to that game requests your credit card information. As with the early days of the Internet, a period of regulatory law-making needs to make the social and casual gaming industry a more secure place to spend our money.

Whatever the case, this information could also help advertisers a great deal. For those considering social and casual game portals for marketing purposes, knowing the spending and behavior patterns of the industry’s users can determine how advertising is integrated further into games. Of course, the other methods we’ve seen frequently used is the launching of a game app by the brand itself. In light of the recent data released on women’s use of social and casual gaming, we’re likely to see more develop on this end as well.

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