Whilst the rise of female players presents an opportunity for studios and operators, Katya Machuganova, Product Owner at Silverback Gaming, says this audience must be treated with respect and receive the support need to prevent harm.
Over the past few years, the global gaming industry has seen a pretty significant shift in the influence of female gamers, with this demographic now steering where the sector is heading.
A report by the Entertainment Software Association found that 48 per cent of people who play games identify as female, and there’s also been a significant increase in the popularity of female streamers. This shift is being felt in the gambling sector, too.
Land-based gaming data from between 2018 and 2023 shows that around 41-43 per cent of female players participate in some form of gambling, with males at a rate of between 41 and 50 per cent. This makes for a near-even gender split.
The rise in female gaming and gambling comes off the back of a societal shift, with the activity now more culturally acceptable for females. This has aligned with game and entertainment providers creating games and experiences for female players.
Online casinos and slot developers want to capitalise on this emerging and significant audience. But to do this, they must understand that female gaming preferences are quite different to those of males, and to produce content that meets these preferences.
For example, many see gaming and gambling as a form of escapism from the pressures they are under socially and culturally. They want entertainment that is easy to access and easy to understand, and that delivers fun in an intelligent way.
While the ability to win big is the icing on the cake, it is not the core motivator for engaging with slots and casino games. This is different to male players who are driven by the big-win potential. Female players also tend to like solitary gambling experiences.
For some of these, the appeal of slots is that they can be enjoyed during moments of peace throughout the day. They are seen as entertainment and a form of relaxation – similar to sitting down in front of the TV with a cup of tea.
Mobile is the preferred channel of play and there is a desire for customisation, storytelling and being immersed in the characters and narrative of the slot game. They favour consistent themes and characters and shy away from provocative content.
But operators and studios must avoid “pink-washing” at all costs – this is a savvy, discerning player group that requires respect.
This is why smart developers should look to the video game world and take inspiration from the female gamers, streamers and designers who are making their mark on the space. Indeed, video games influence contemporary culture, so there’s a lot that can be learned here.
Silverback Gaming is at the cutting edge of slot development and to do this we always stay up to speed with the latest trends, innovations and changes in player preferences and work hard to reflect this in the titles that leave our production line.
We prioritise experimentation, diversity within the team and customer feedback. By welcoming females to the organisation and allowing them to lead in bringing new ideas to the table, we have successfully developed titles geared towards female players.
This in turn is allowing our operator partners to engage this audience group and deliver the entertainment experiences they are seeking through authentic content that has been designed for female players, by female players.
We speak a lot about localisation but ensuring a game portfolio is balanced in terms of the player categories it appeals to is just as important, especially given the rise in number of female players.
Given this rise, we as an industry must do more to research problem gambling specifically with women and to bring tailored approaches and harm prevention processes to the market. There is a need for support for women, by women.
This requires research and resources to be dedicated to this area. If we as an industry are looking to female players as an area of growth, it’s only right we up our game in terms of the support provided to those few who are at risk of developing a gambling problem.