More women now play video games than men

7 in 10 Britons have played some form of video game in last 6 months; more people 45+ are playing than kids/teens.
  • Apps most popular format; smartphones most popular device; consoles account for most time
  • Trivia/word/puzzles are favourite genre – driven by older women

See the full research here 

Driven by 25-44 year old women downloading free puzzle and trivia game apps, there are now more women playing video games than men, according to a new report from the Internet Advertising Bureau UK (IAB) on the British game-playing audience.

The “Gaming Revolution” study, carried out by independent research agency Populus, reveals that females account for over half (52%) of people who’ve played some form of video game¹ in the last six months, compared to 49% three years ago. The gamer audience has now hit 33.5 million Britons – 69% of the population.

Not just child’s play…

The study also reveals there are now more people over 44 years old playing games (27% of gamer population) than children and teenagers (22%). Over half (56%) of people aged 45-54 have played a video game in the last six months, as have 44% of 55-64 year olds and even a third (32%) of 65-74s.

Free mobile apps driving the change

The growth in women and older gamers has been driven by free games, primarily mobile apps. Six in ten (61%) games acquired in the last six months were free. Apps are now the most popular video game format (played by 55% of the online population) followed by online games (48%) then disc-based games (40%). Over one in four (27%) people played all three formats – rising to 70% of 8-12 year olds.

Consequently, smartphones are now the most popular device for playing games, cited by 54% of respondents – a quarter of whom play on their phone every day. Then follows computers (51%), consoles (45%) and tablets (44%). The average gamer plays on three different devices.

“The internet and mobile devices have changed the gaming landscape forever,” says Steve Chester, Director of Data & Industry Programmes at the Internet Advertising Bureau. “They’ve brought down the barriers to entry, making gaming far more accessible and opened it up to a whole new audience. In the past you needed to go out and buy an expensive console and the discs on top to get a decent experience, now you can just download a free app.”

Trivia/word/puzzles are favourite genre – driven by older women

One third of respondents, overall, cite trivia/word/puzzles as their favourite game genre – compared to over half (56%) of women at least 45 years old and half of women aged 25-44. Action/adventure/ shooter games are the next favourite, cited by 18% of all respondents, rising to 45% of 16-24 year old males and 26% of men 25-44.

Time’s up

The average gamer aged 16+ spends around 11 hours gaming a week, compared to 20 hours for 8-15 year olds. 6-8pm is the most popular game-playing time.

The average Briton spends six hours per week playing games, just over 11% of their 52 hours of media consumption a week – the same share accounted for by social media and slightly less than listening to music (14%).

Looking at share of game-playing time by device², consoles account for 30% of time followed by computers (24%), smartphones (21%) and tablets (18%). Looking at share of time by format², online accounts for almost half (47%) of game time followed by apps (23%) and disc-based games (22%).

In-game advertising

Two-thirds (67%) of game-players are aware that advertising appears within some games (in-game advertising). Six in ten (61%) are happy to see ads in games if it makes them free, while a quarter (24%) think it makes games more realistic and immersive. The number of ads acceptable in a free game (1.7 every 30 minutes) is twice as high as in paid games (0.8).

Chester concludes: “Getting in-game advertising right is a very delicate skill. In-game ads can enhance the experience by adding realism or extra content – as long as they’re not interruptive and irrelevant. If they are, it can have the opposite effect and stop people playing.”

4,058 GB individuals aged 8-74 were surveyed online between 19-29 June 2014, supported by 30-minute face-to-face interviews with 22 gamers and four industry experts.

¹For the purposes of data in this news release, playing video games in arcades was not included.

²Both online and disc-based games can be played on consoles and computers so, for example, console time does not equal disc-based time.