The Future of Gaming is Female and Mobile

Pooja Sanan, Head of Sales SEA at PayPal

There are 3 billion gamers globally, with roughly half of them in the Asia-Pacific region. Southeast Asia alone boasts a US$5 billion video game market with 270 million gamers. With rising technological literacy, affordable smartphones, a young population, and improving internet infrastructure in the region, there is ample room for growth still.

Contrary to traditional gender stereotypes, recent data shows that video games are not only for boys. Women today already make up around 45% of gamers in Asia, and the number is fast growing. India, Indonesia, and Malaysia are three of the top markets in APAC for female gamers playing on mobile, with other markets catching up neck-to-neck.

As we look for new growth engines in 2023, female gamers play a significant role, if businesses are equipped with the right insights to penetrate this new group of customers. In addition, the fast growth of mobile gaming also sparks a promising outlook.

Know your customers and give them what they want.

Knowing your customers is at the core of any gaming business, which needs to tap into the emerging trends and reflect the diversity of their gamers’ profiles.

A recent report from Niko Partners found that the number of female gamers in Asia is growing at a rate of 7.6% year-on-year, against 5% for male gamers. Evidence from the US, however, suggests that only 30% or fewer mobile games are believed to be designed for women, with 44% of the top games on Google Play featuring male characters. Clearly there are unmet market needs for games tailored for female players and featuring female characters. Notably, while male gamers are typically driven by competition (61%), challenge (58%) and learning new skills (58%), female gamers are more likely to cite relaxation (47%), fun and entertainment (45%) and escapism (44%) as reasons for gaming. Therefore, brands looking to make the most of this growing demographic should gain a female perspective and speak directly to these needs to gain competitive edge.

Offer more mobile-friendly games.

Tapping into the growing market of female gamers also means a focus on mobile experience.

Statistics show that 94% of female gamers in the world’s top 10 games markets  use mobile as their primary gaming platform, and mobile is the preferred choice in every major market in Asia. What’s more, 84% of female gamers are willing to make in-game purchases. Last year, they spent more than US$20 billion via in-app purchases to enhance their gaming experience. Focusing on mobile-friendly gaming design will largely help businesses stay close to their female users.

The growth of mobile gaming stretches across gender lines and connects more gamers from across the globe – and businesses are moving fast to ride on this momentum. Advances in hardware and big-name franchises, such as Mobile Legends and PUBG, have all widened the landscape of smartphone experiences. Backed by 5G technology and improved internet infrastructure, gamers are now able to unlock the connected and flexible gameplay experience on the go.

The rise of portable gaming has also provided a conducive environment for more people to join the games in a casual way. In 2020, a survey found that 23% of gamers in Singapore are ‘time fillers’ who would play a quick round of mobile games while commuting or waiting. In 2021, the number of installations of such casual games grew even further by 49%. Unlike PC games which require a complete home setup, mobile games give commuters the flexibility to play wherever and whenever they want – and this is a trend that is expected to grow in coming years as travel resumes. For game developers, it is worth looking into more idle tap games and the likes, which would give people a quick escape from their stress of life, turning boring situations into fun ones.

Find the right balance between safety and seamlessness.

On the back end, security remains a priority as it safeguards gamers’ trust towards any gaming merchants who aspire to grow in the long run.

A recent report shows that password-stealing malware cybercriminals have set their sights on gamers – 185,689 passwords were stolen from 2,179 devices in seven months of last year. As games gain popularity, so does the security threat. Preventing security risks not only requires good user habits, but a robust security system enhanced continually. By setting up a dedicated security team and leaning on trusted payment partners like PayPal, gaming merchants can stay vigilant in monitoring suspicious activity, while gamers can rest easy knowing their data and payments details are in good hands.

Gaming merchants we work with tell us that gamers tend to be impatient, so a great payment experience should never interfere with the gaming flow. For example, gamers value one-click payments which allow them to save their information and checkout quickly. A smooth website layout with intuitive clicks and a crease-free in-app purchasing process with minimal waiting time are game-changers worth investing in.

Game on and upwards in the year ahead.

There is global consensus that the year ahead will be challenging, but emerging trends have suggested bright spots for gaming businesses. Creating more inclusive and mobile-friendly experiences is one way to seize the opportunity.

There is no doubt that inventive game design and brilliant code are essential to success, but the real end game is a winning customer experience from start to finish. With a payment partner that offers built-in security solutions, frictionless check-out, and cross-border capabilities, gaming merchants can focus on what truly matters for their business and audience – elevating and enhancing the gameplay.

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