Mobile Gaming: Females Beat Males on Money, Time and Loyalty

August 7, 2014
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Simon Khalaf
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Ever since the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game hit the top grossing charts on the App Store, the web has been abuzz with articles about the changing face of mobile gaming. The game’s overnight success, its whopping $700,000 USD per day revenue run-rate, and its direct challenge to worldwide hits Supercell’s Clash of Clans and King’s Candy Crush, have become the fascination of mainstream media from Forbes, to CNN and the New York Times who labeled the game an unlikely mobile video game hit. The media didn’t question Ms. Kardashian’s star appeal, it questioned the game’s appeal to a broad mobile gaming audience, an audience long believed to be dominated by males in general and teens and college students in particular. It might be true that Ms. Kardashian’s fan club is not packed with teenage boys and young men attending college, but the fact is this: the mobile gaming audience is not what is used to be.

In a new study conducted at Flurry, we found that females spend more time and more money on mobile games, and are also more loyal to these games than men. Based on a sample of successful games that reach a total of 1.1 million devices on the Flurry platform, we found that women make 31% more In-App-Purchases than men. We also found that females spend 35% more time in gaming apps than males. While the fact that females invest more time in gaming apps, especially in management and simulation games, has rarely been disputed, the fact that females also outspend males in In-App Purchases came as a surprise to us.

In the same study, we also found that females are more loyal than males when it comes to retention. In fact, , women have 42% higher 7-day retention on average versus males. These numbers are all measured on a worldwide basis, but there is very little difference in the numbers when we looked at the US audience only. 

First we thought that there was a specific genre of games, such as Ms. Kardashian’s overnight hit, that are skewing these numbers. So next we looked at the weekly time spent for 19 categories of iOS games. (Please note that we only measured the time spent in apps that are on the Flurry Network.) The results are shown in the chart below. We color coded a bar in pink if the category skews female, blue if it skews male and gray if it is neutral. Looking at the chart below, nine categories skew female, including the top two categories form a time-spent perspective. Six categories skew male and four categories are split almost evenly between males and females. Males have kept their dominance in card/battle games, strategy, tower defense, sports and action/RPG. That should give some hardcore game reviewers, irked by the overnight success of the Kardashian game, a sigh of relief. 

While the broadening of the mobile gaming base may not be welcome by hardcore male gamers, it brings good news to advertisers seeking to reach their audience. In fact, advertisers are shifting billions of dollars in advertising to the mobile platform with the hopes of reaching the audience that is glued to smartphones and tablets 24/7/365. The gaming segment still accounts for 32% of time spent on mobile devices and hence that segment will be sought after by major advertisers. The fact that this segment is attracting females as well as males of all ages makes it even more appealing to advertisers and their agencies.

On the surface, it might appear that Ms. Kardashian has started a new trend and has disrupted the mobile gaming segment by attracting women’s time and credit cards. But our data suggests that trend started before Kim K. came to mobile and shows no sign of stopping. Nevertheless, Ms. Kardashian will take the credit (and credit cards) and bask in the glory of her latest hit endeavor.