Female gamers are the hidden gem in the UK video gaming crown, according to research from Barclays Corporate Banking’s UK Video Gamers Trends Survey.
British women look set to spend £1.1 billion on video games and their accessories over the next 12 months – a third of the total £3.5 billion projected spend for British adults over the same period, driven by growth in mobile games and a wider range of titles targeting both men and women.
Women are more inclined to see gaming as a solitary activity compared to men, which is consistent with how they play; with women preferring gaming on mobile devices to consoles or computers, with the majority of mobile games being single-player titles.
The research also finds that men are more likely to play games as a form of social activity. Women are more likely than men to say they play games individually on apps/ online/ or on consoles at home than men (82 per cent versus 77 per cent for men). Similarly, men are more likely than women to say they play video games ‘with friends in person on separate consoles’ (11 per cent versus 9 per cent), ‘with friends on single consoles’ (16 per cent versus 12 per cent), or say they are part of online video game communities and play virtually with members and friends (11 per cent versus 8 per cent). The gap, however, is certainly narrower than many might expect.
Sean Duffy, head of technology, media and telecoms at Barclays says, ‘The UK’s £4.3 billion video games industry is a thriving and vital contributor to our economy. While trends in mobile and virtual reality are well publicised, female gamers have been a substantial driver of growth in the industry over recent years, opening up a part of the market that was previously overlooked.
‘Our research finds that the majority of female gamers engage through mobile, and the growth of mobile titles has no doubt been central to increased uptake by women. Of all of the platforms we surveyed, mobile is forecast to see the most growth over the next 5 years. There is a big opportunity for developers to expand the female market with mobile games targeting women.
‘At Barclays, we’ve seen first-hand the evolution of the sector and the quality of the games created. We’re committed to helping UK video game producers grow more quickly and continue to compete internationally.’
The time British adults spend gaming is also on the rise. The average length of time spent by Brits on gaming is 1-3 hours a week, but the numbers spending over eight hours a week on gaming has increased, with nearly a third (31 per cent) spending this amount of time every week on the activity, compared to a quarter five years ago.
British gamers also plan to invest in their gaming hardware over the next two years, with virtual reality headsets (15 per cent) and individual consoles (also 15 per cent) being the most popular areas for investment, followed by gaming accessories for Xbox and PlayStation (12 per cent).
The dominance of mobile phones as the platform for gaming looks set to continue. Mobile phones are currently the most popular gaming platform (53 per cent), followed by tablets (37 per cent) and consoles (37 per cent), but only three per cent of respondents currently stream or play games direct from TV. A fifth (19 per cent) predict that they will spend more time playing games on mobile phones in future, followed by tablets and consoles (both 15 per cent).
UK based video game companies could boost sales by promoting their ‘Made in Britain’ status. A survey of regular gamers found 15 per cent would choose a British game over one made abroad, if they knew of its provenance.
British gamers find the humour of British-made games to be more relevant (41 per cent) and the story-telling more compelling (23 per cent). Some gamers are also loyal to their favourite British developers, with 16 per cent citing this as a reason, and a general desire to buy British wherever possible was selected by 74 per cent of respondents.
The survey highlights how UK video game companies could benefit from making their origins clearer. The same poll finds respondents unable to identify blockbuster UK video games such as Grand Theft Auto V (17 per cent), Batman Arkham Knight (nine per cent), Runescape (seven per cent), Forza Horizon 3 (seven per cent) and Monument Valley (five per cent) as being locally developed, with many presuming these to be products of the USA. At the same time, the majority of respondents (75 per cent) underestimated the total value of the UK’s gaming industry when asked.