Online gaming has been engaging more and more players by the day. However, it still remains a male preserve with women forming only 2.92 million of the 10 million gaming audience in India, according to Comscore. While the scope exists, sunsilkgangofgirls.com and iDiva from The Times of India being some examples, there aren’t too many gaming portals dedicated to a female audience.
exchange4media finds out from industry players, what works for women gamers and what some well known portals are doing to attract women players.
Digits and data that matter
According to Comscore, in terms of traffic, Zapak, Miniclip, Freeonlinegames, Myplaycity and Yahoo Games are the top five gaming sites in India. However, this data does not reflect the users that play games on social networking sites like Facebook.
On this, Amar Deep Singh, Vice-President, Interactive Avenues, explained, “Farmville, Mafia Wars and Scrabulous are popular games on Facebook, but these do not reflect in Comscore separately. The total gaming population is a significant 10 million of the overall Internet population, without counting the cyber café audience, since Comscore does not report cyber café usage. And, I would think a large part of the gaming population uses cyber cafés. So, the gaming population could be as much as 15 million.”
These apart, there are various generic portals such as indiatimes.com and yahoo.com that have microsites for gaming purposes. Singh added, “To increase their user base, these portals need to have a play in each vertical, which can add to the overall users on their site.”
Quentin Staes-Polet, CEO, Kreeda Games, explained, “Inculcating games in a portal helps increase interaction among the users and of course the traffic. It is also used as a tool to improve socialising and bring people together in a community of their interest. It makes the site popular as the users tend to spend more time and interact.”
The games people play
Gaming websites ibibo and Zapak have distinctly featured games and are popular enough to drive decent traffic, but both of them have fewer women players. While Zapak has a 60:40 male to female ratio, ibibo sees as low as 20 per cent female audience.
Elaborating on the gaming content on ibibo.com, its CEO, Ashish Kashyap, said, “Our role playing game – ‘ibibo Great Indian Parking Wars’ - is based on the story of the struggle for finding a parking space in everyday life. The game has assets that one can easily relate with example - cows on the street, autorikshaws, typical trucks, etc. It is this local social gaming content that we are able to differentiate with and hence, enable users to create their social graphs around each of these contexts. Similarly, ‘ibibo Teen Patti’ is one of the biggest games in the Indian social games space that enables six friends to play live (Synchronous) while sitting anywhere in India.”
Commenting on how well it has been received, without citing any specific figures, Kashyap said, “Hundreds of thousands of Indian youth are active on these social games on a daily basis. Each unique gamer spends more than 60 minutes daily on ibibo’s social games.”
Speaking on Zapak.com’s gaming content, CEO Rohit Sharma said, “‘Hoop Fever Live’ is a new age social game, which uses Facebook’s strengths and help in viral marketing. Users integrate their FB account with the game and then they compete with all FB friends, FB groups, etc. They get to see performance of their friends live. It also has an in-game currency that gives more energy to the users. In this game, a user pays actual cash to get energy. Another unique game is ‘Howzat Multiplayer Cricket Game’, which is one of its kind multiplayer cricket game, where you play live matches with your opponents. Bowling and batting is done by human players, unlike other so-called multiplayer cricket games, where one part is performed by artificial intelligence.”
He further claimed, “Hoop Fever was launched in the first week of May and we get over 150,000 gameplays daily. We are seeing 0.5 per cent conversion to paid users, so almost 750 people are paying on a daily basis to buy energy. Howzat has already got 100,000 registered players and we see concurrency of more than 1,500 gamers anytime during the day, which is the highest concurrency in any multiplayer game across any portal in India.”
Wooing the women gamers
Most gaming portals agree that there is need to grow the number of women gamers from the current 2.92 million as the scope is definitely there. They have different views on how to grow this market as women players have unique gaming preferences.
According to ibibo.com’s Kashyap, “Unlike a hardcore game or a single player game, social gaming attracts a much larger volume of women users because of its activity based applications and the fact that it is done along with friends and connections. Games like Teen Patti have a universal appeal. ibibo Farm also sees a significant number of women users.”
Realising the need to attract a growing number of female gaming audience, Zapak.com has a dedicated portal for this minor yet significant segment. Sharma said, “Soon after the launch of Zapak.com, we noticed a lot of traffic coming in from the fairer gender. That is when we decided to launch a website dedicated to games for girls – www.zapakgirls.com. We launched games in the genres enjoyed by girls and we also host regular contests for girls.”
He further said, “In the US, women constitute over 50 per cent of the online casual gaming community. India will soon witness this trend too.”
With gaming portals realising the need to tap the female gaming audience, we can expect to see more initiatives like www.zapakgirls.com. Female gamers cannot be wooed with the regular fare involving cricket or war games that attract male players. Thus we can see the development of more social level games and perhaps even a new genre of games.