When I was growing up, I was one of the few girls playing such games as Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Castlevania. Today, my four-year-old daughter is learning the games that I played when I was a teenager, by herself on a tablet. She’s not an anomaly.
The stereotype of gamers as slouched teenage boys hasn’t just gotten looser in recent years. It’s entirely unraveled. According to a 2015 study by the Entertainment Software Association, the average gamer is now 35 years old, and 73 percent are aged 18 or older. Nearly half (41 percent) of those players are female, and women over the age of 18 account for a far greater proportion of the game-playing population than boys aged 18 or younger.
Take Pokémon Go, which at the time of writing has been downloaded more times in a week than Tinder has in four years. StartApp estimates more than 40 percent of budding Pokémon trainers are older than 25, and about one in three are women. It’s an audience as diverse as it is massive, and capturing those millions of human beings in divisions — such as age, gender, and interests — is as difficult as catching a Charizard.
Everyone’s a gamer, in other words. And if you’re marketing your game based purely on demographics, then you’re missing a trick.
In 2016, we’re going beyond just demographic assumptions to find out how players get into the game and what keeps them coming back. As a developer, you need to target players who will download your game, but you also need players who will share it, players who will chat with others, and players who will upload videos and consume premium offers. Thriving game communities are built on all of these player types, and the best game marketers know how to target all of them.
It’s important to identify what players value most, as early as possible, and then customize the experience to maximize the player’s engagement. It’s why at Google we give teams the tools to identify behaviors and actions that matter, Then, we integrate actions, such as game downloads, YouTube views, and all the important signals of intent on Google.com and the Play Store to deliver players with highly predictive long term value (LTV). In other words, we use insights to find more players out in the world who are more likely to take action — from the very start.
We are working with pioneering teams, such as FreshPlanet, to understand the predictive power of YouTube search and consumption patterns for games. We already know that for every additional five minutes spent on YouTube, you can expect a two-minute increase in gaming activity.
Demographics will always have a place in marketing strategy, but as game audiences get bigger and broader, real actions and intent are vital signals. Google’s tools do the heavy lifting on data collection and analysis, so developers can focus on making meaningful changes. We want you to focus on creating unique, engaging experiences that delight your audience.
The age of assumption is over, and I’m so excited for us to harness real insights that can turn a high volume of users into high-value advocates.
Sissie Hsiao, Google’s Director of Product Management for Mobile App Advertising, has been an avid gamer her whole life. Join Sissie and industry leaders Mathieu Nouzareth, CEO of FreshPlanet, and Wright Bagwell of Outpost Games, for a VB Live webinar to talk about how to build a thriving games community. Register for this event here.