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Cube Conversations: Slightly off piste, but a cracking subject. It’s all about women and gaming.

 

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This Cube Conversation has a tenuous link with our usual topics, however it’s a very interesting subject that we were only too happy to get stuck into. Marketing and PR Consultant, Ben Fox, chats with Rumbi Pfende, the UK Country Head of RealGames, about women getting onboard with gaming and how things like social media have changed the landscape.

BF: So Rumbi, why do you think so many women are embracing gaming now?

RP: The irony is that women had traditionally led gaming in the household before the advent of consoles and online gaming; it’s simply Solitaire transferred online. A common misconception is to think women embracing gaming is new; it’s just that the nature and type of games on offer have broadened the base, thereby providing women with a less aggressive, more relaxed environment to play.

BF: What games are women opting for and why?

RP: There will always be followers of traditional hardcore games like Grand Theft Auto; but broadly speaking female players are after engaging, fun games that are easy, non-violent and can be played as easily for 15mins as they can for 5 hrs. Intricate hardware installations or complex instructions tend to be off-putting, which can be offset by marketing gaming to women in the opposite manner.

BF: In that case, how are these games branded by RealGames in order to effectively speak to women?

RP: Our games have a unique flavour, which is why Zylom, our female casual gaming site, is the only female-focused casual game site in the UK space. Firstly, I should point out that our players would never call themselves ‘gamers’, it is simply another form of entertainment. With this in mind, our games range from skill-based games to brain-training, to light action and puzzle games; each one developed in-house specifically for women to provide a simple, fun alternative to watching TV, reading a magazine or chatting to a friend on the phone. Our direction comes from a number of sources such as panel discussions, consumer testing and usability studies, along with an extremely talented team of designers and developers.

BF: Where is the trend for women in gaming heading?

RP: The PC has now become the platform of choice and women make up almost half of internet users in the UK. Combined with social media (e.g. games now being available on Facebook), means a decisive move away from the download model that women tend not to respond to. Ultimately, I believe in the very near future nearly all games will be online, or have online versions. This is not to say the console is dead, as there will always be a market for these platforms, but the increasingly broad nature of PC games plus the scalability of online games for producers as well as advertisers, means the female following will continue to grow exponentially.

BF: So, what drives this growth?

RP: There is a rapid convergence of innovation and technology being developed that will set the scene for the explosion of female gaming. UK broadband access is now at around 60%, with women making up almost 50% of those users. The rapid rise of the Nintendo Wii, with its wide family appeal, engages the whole household as opposed to only catering for the traditional stereotypical teenage boy and man, alongside social media that has already established itself within gaming. An example of this is Microsoft, who just announced their innovative plan to merge Twitter, Facebook & Last.fm into its Xbox 360 console. Women are feeling more included in the current and new gaming platforms, and as well as being able to chat & play with their friends and family. This means all the things we girls love doing for entertainment are now available in one gaming format.

BF: Do you think the days of the console based games are numbered?

RP: No – at least not yet! I do think they will eventually be surpassed in popularity by online games though. Research does show that console users are very attached to their games, and look forward to playing and collecting them. However, the sheer scalability and inclusiveness of online gaming means access to a much wider audience, which in turn means the inevitability of PC outgrowing console.

BF: What opportunities do you think the gaming industry presents to advertisers an as engaging platform to reach their target audiences?

RP: The beauty of PC gaming is that as a business model it’s proved to be comparatively recession-proof, so unique user numbers continue to increase. One reason for this is that users have a greater level of receptiveness during gaming online. For example, a player will be enthusiastic and fully engaged whilst playing their favourite games, as opposed to when they are being exposed to educational or informative messages. Advertising during game time, will not be viewed as intrusive and won’t be perceived as an interruption to the user experience. That’s why RealGames consistently provides great response rates for our advertisers.

BF: Do you think some advertisers are missing an opportunity to build their own brand through the power of gaming?

RP: Absolutely. It’s taken some of the bigger brands a bit longer to embrace digital, but the recession has forced innovation within businesses and I think has in some ways ensured advertisers look at ‘non-traditional’ growth areas that can produce clearer ROI. Online gaming provides access to a previously-ignored niche of working women who look forward to playing their favourite games on a regular basis. Ultimately, the success of online advertising is primarily driven by the state of mind in which an advertiser interacts with a consumer. So the fun, relaxed environment we create at RealGames ensures a unique opportunity to communicate in a powerful way to access a desirable target audience.

Want to get in touch with Rumbi? Email her here [email protected]

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