Women significantly outnumber teenage boys in gamer demographics

Adult female gamers have unseated boys under the age of 18 as the largest video game-playing demographic in the U.S., according to a recently published study from the Entertainment Software Association, a trade group focused the U.S. gaming industry.

While men still account for the majority of the U.S. gaming population, the number of women playing games on both consoles and mobile devices is up to 48 percent, from 40 percent in 2010.

The spike in the number female gamers is likely tied to widespread smartphone adoption. In addition to traditional PCs and the Nintendo Wii game console, women were more likely to game on their mobile devices, and were just as likely as men to play on Apple’s iPhone and iPad platforms. In the past, female gamers were thought to play games primarily as a means of connecting with their loved ones.

“[Many] women who previously only gamed with their families are now embracing gaming as an individual leisure activity as well,” Nielsen analyst Nicole Pike explained to The Wall Street Journal.

Adolescent boys are widely considered to be one of, if not the most, sought-after demographic by game development studios, but the uptick of female gamers could be a signal of changes to come. Mobile ad firm Flurry Analytics found that on on the whole, women presented a much larger value proposition to game developers in terms of revenue and brand engagement.

Simulation games like “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” and “Candy Crush Saga” make headlines for the massive amounts of revenue that they manage to rake in, but the kinds of games that women are playing were found to vary widely, including endless runner games such as “Temple Run,” brain teasers such as “QuizUp” and traditional card games.

Surveying its own ad platform that is deployed across a wide variety of games of mobile games, Flurry found that on average, women spent 31 percent more money on in-app purchases and 35 percent more time within mobile games as compared to their male counterparts. Moreover, women committed themselves to a particular game and stuck with it. Globally, women came back to the games that they had chosen to play 42 percent more often over a seven-day period.