While blockbuster movies and must-watch TV series dominate the airwaves, gaming has eased its way into the top spot as the biggest entertainment medium. It’s estimated that that global games market will generate over US$150 billion (more than the movie and music industries combined), with there being over 2.5 billion people playing games around the world this year. It’s quite staggering that gaming has grown to this enormous size, mainly because it was historically seen as a men-only pastime. So, how has a somewhat stigmatised and comparatively expensive medium become the goliath of entertainment?
The platforms of choice
While there have been several re-releases of classic consoles, such as the Sega Genesis Flashback and even the first PlayStation, the core platforms of gaming are via a computer, the latest consoles, or mobile devices. Each of these three has continued to improve in what they can handle, offering bigger, better, and more enticing experiences to players. As a result, the divides between gamer demographics have slimmed while the overall audience has grown.
Statistics show that mobile gaming has been a revelation for both men and women, with around 52 percent of the online male population and 48 percent of the online female population enjoying mobile games. Between the more traditional platforms, such as consoles and computers, men make up a larger part of the audience, but the divide has been closing in recent years. The percentages of online men and women playing PC and console games are less than 15 percent apart, indicating that the medium has become much more appealing to everyone.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider is the cost involved. Due to the stigmas attached to the form of entertainment, the price points of gaming would have further discouraged potential players of both genders. In the Business Insider game platform comparison of PCs, PlayStation 4s, and Xbox Ones, it was found that you’re still looking at US$250 for a top console and $500 for a PC to match. However, with mobiles offering lite forms of gaming at low or zero cost on devices that are owned as standard, more people have been able to give gaming a go.
Bolstered accessibility the key
Overall, there is a much more even spread of men and women who game, with the divides between the two across all platforms set to shrink over the coming years. With more people from different demographics playing games, more varied games are created by developers, leading to gaming having a much more considerable amount of appeal to continue its growth.
One of the reasons why men and women don’t evenly play console and computer games is due to the gradual process of new gamers breaking into the scene. Many will utilise the accessibility of mobile and free-to-start games before exploring more expensive forms of gaming. Making a sector easier to access and navigate is crucial to success in modern entertainment.
In video gaming, it’s a case of moving to widely adopted devices and cutting upfront costs. In a related form of entertainment, the recent increases in popularity for online gambling in 2020 and previous years are due to the offering of free games and casino site rankings that make trying games and finding the best platforms simple. Historically, in both gaming industries, there has always been a degree of effort required, be it considering the cost of hardware or finding the best websites.
Now that there’s an easy way into the gaming industries, more people will try them out, and some will go on to enjoy the larger experiences on offer. This could mean moving from mobile games to more extensive console experiences or even seeing what else gaming has to offer.
Gaming’s new frontier
The biggest revelation in gaming over the last five-to-ten years, more so than any new console or even VR technology, is that of eSports. The popularisation of competitive gaming as a spectator sport has taken the world by storm, with its incredible accessibility being key. Most major competitions can not only be streamed online but are also free to watch, with a lot of eSports’ income being via advertising. Even though eSports is still very new, the relatively newfound access point to gaming being mobile is replicated in the competitive scene.
Around 35 percent of total eSports players and 30 percent of eSports viewers are women, with 66 percent of players in the mobile section of eSports being women. This helps to mirror the idea of mobile gaming being a fairly recent gateway into the gaming scene. Mobile opened up gaming a great deal, and while there were many female gamers before, there are far more now, with many still enjoying this relatively new and very accessible form of gaming.
Gaming has evolved and expanded a great deal over the decades, continuing to improve and push forward while other mediums like movies and music seem to have reached their limits, more or less. Now, with more ways to play and explore the scene, gaming has become bigger than music and movies combined. In the audience itself, with further growth, we can expect to see demographics drawing more even across the segments.